Every week, Huge Points focuses on a newly launched comedian ebook of significance. This week, it’s The Legend Of Korra: Turf Wars, Half One. Written by Michael Dante DiMartino (Avatar: The Final Airbender, The Legend Of Korra) with artwork by Irene Koh (Afrina And The Glass Coffin, TMNT: Casey & April) and colorist Vivian Ng (Stargazer), this new graphic novel highlights the worth of exploring queer themes in established properties. This assessment reveals main plot factors.
The ultimate moments of The Legend Of Korra TV collection have been unforgettable. On the finish of a turbulent season that had Nickelodeon pulling the showcase the air and airing new episodes on-line, the creators dropped a bombshell that many followers hoped for, however few believed would really occur: Korra and her greatest feminine pal, Asami, entered a romantic relationship, venturing into the spirit world hand in hand to start out the following part of their life collectively. Korrasami followers have been ecstatic, and ending a collection about feminine empowerment with the 2 most important ladies getting collectively was a daring assertion, dramatically altering the context of their previous scenes collectively and alluring viewers to return and hint the event of their relationship over time.
It’s been practically three years for the reason that Korra finale, however Korra, Asami, and the remainder of the gang are lastly again within the new Darkish Horse Comics graphic novel The Legend Of Korra: Turf Wars, Half One. Darkish Horse has had numerous success with its graphic novel continuation of Korra’s predecessor, Avatar: The Final Airbender, with author Gene Luen Yang and the Gurihiru artwork staff capturing the appear and feel of the cartoon with outstanding accuracy. Turf Wars has a good stronger connection to the TV collection with Avatar and Korra co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino within the author’s seat, and DiMartino’s information of this world and its characters makes Turf Wars an particularly insightful addition to the franchise. DiMartino is aware of precisely what followers need to see after that finale, and he dives headfirst into Korra and Asami’s romance whereas additionally detailing the historical past of how queer folks have been handled on the earth of this collection.
American animated collection for youthful viewers don’t have an excellent observe document in the case of LGBTQ inclusion (Cartoon Community’s Steven Universe is the massive exception), and whereas it will have been nice to see Korra and Asami’s romance blossom on display, it’s uncertain that Nickelodeon would have been absolutely on board with this route had the collection continued. There’s extra flexibility in comedian books, and DiMartino takes full benefit together with his script for Turf Wars and brings appreciable depth to this world within the course of. Having a same-sex relationship on the heart of the story introduces numerous new narrative territory to discover with reference to how queer folks match into this fantasy world, and as soon as they get again from the spirit world, Korra and Asami study in regards to the difficulties they are going to face as a pair.
Popping out to Korra’s mother and father is straightforward, however Korra takes offense at her father asking her to maintain their relationship personal, assuming that this implies he’s uncomfortable and narrow-minded. Korra has all the time been an impulsive hothead, and like most every little thing she’s achieved prior to now, she fees into her new way of life and pushes again onerous when she comes throughout any sort of resistance. However she’s additionally ignorant about how completely different tribes have reacted to queer folks prior to now, which informs her father’s request. Korra and Asami study this historical past from Kya, the daughter of the previous Avatar, Aang, who shares her personal coming-out expertise to assist the couple perceive what they’ll be dealing with from completely different communities.
Revealing the sexual orientations of acquainted faces like Kya and Avatar Kyoshi, who was bisexual, makes each Avatar and Korra retroactively extra inclusive, and it additionally emphasizes that Korra and Asami aren’t an anomaly on this world. Normalizing queer relationships makes it simpler for folks to come back out, and studying that there’s a bigger group prepared to just accept you is a giant assist in overcoming the alienation that arises for a lot of queer folks. Korra and Asami don’t think about themselves as different, however the older folks of their lives know that the remainder of the world isn’t going to share that view.
Korra’s household is a part of the Water Tribe, which prefers its folks to maintain their personal issues personal. Korra can be accepted, but in addition anticipated to maintain this a part of her id out of the general public eye, which is problematic in its personal approach. Her scenario isn’t as unhealthy as how queer persons are handled within the Fireplace Nation and Earth Kingdom, nevertheless it’s inferior to it was again within the air temples of outdated, the place folks have been inspired to embrace and have a good time their true selves. This historical past is essentially the most fascinating factor about Turf Wars, and hopefully future installments will elaborate even additional as a result of there’s a lot wealthy materials there.
As a queer lady of coloration who can be a Korra superfan, artist Irene Koh is conscious of what Korra and Asami’s relationship means for followers with comparable circumstances who’re hungry for illustration. The primary pages are brimming with pleasure as the brand new lovers journey by the spirit world, which is coloured by Vivian Ng with a romantic pastel palette. The story picks up seconds after the collection’ conclusion, and the primary shot of Korra and Asami presents the present’s remaining picture from the alternative aspect, with the couple dealing with ahead as they transfer into the following part of their story. They usually profit from their spirit world trip: They trip a phoenix, hop throughout big mushrooms, and swim hand in hand once they’re not sitting collectively beneath mystical waterfalls. These pages give a powerful impression of the intimacy of their relationship, constructing to their first kiss in opposition to a pale pink and purple sky, with flower petals dancing on the wind behind them.
Gurihiru’s artwork on the Avatar graphic novels is so clear that it seems like screencaps from the present, however Koh has a looser, sketchier model that makes the visuals really feel extra spontaneous and private. That’s not a dig on Gurihiru, who’re distinctive storytellers (see their work on current problems with The Unbelievable Gwenpool for a few of the most intelligent, experimental artwork in present superhero comics), however they do such a wonderful job replicating the Avatar model that the paintings comes throughout as an extension of the cartoon relatively than a recent interpretation. Koh’s artwork remains to be clearly evocative of the Korra aesthetic, however like DiMartino with the scripting, she has extra freedom to convey one thing new to the desk.
A standout second highlights how tightly the artwork is tied to the emotional content material of the script: When Korra addresses the gang of residents left homeless after the assault on Republic Metropolis, Koh locations her in the midst of a pentagon panel, surrounded on all sides by folks asking for one thing completely different from the Avatar. She’s overwhelmed, and the format reinforces this sense, particularly when paired with Korra’s anxious expression and physique language within the heart panel. But there’s nothing violent in regards to the crowd, and the muted coloring prevents them from showing too aggressive. These persons are struggling, however they continue to be calm as a result of they imagine that the Avatar has the facility to assist them.
Whereas she tries her greatest, Korra has numerous hurdles standing in her approach, particularly inept politicians, grasping real-estate tycoons, and a harmful new gang on the streets that’s intensifying the chaos there. Whereas nearly all of Turf Wars focuses on Korra and Asami’s courtship, it additionally serves because the origin story for a brand new villain: Tokuga, a gang chief capitalizing on the turmoil in Republic Metropolis following the catastrophic occasions of the TV present’s remaining season. A formidable fighter armed with two hooked swords, Tokuga has been inflicting a lot of hassle for the Republic Metropolis police power, which now consists of each Mako and Bolin, the 2 brothers who’re Korra’s closest male mates. The primary huge battle sequence of the graphic novel pits the police in opposition to Tokuga’s gang, and whereas there’s a few of the franchise’s signature bending motion, the best moments showcase what Tokuga can do together with his weapons.
Nate Piekos is without doubt one of the greatest letterers within the trade—his work on DC’s Inexperienced Arrow proper now could be a grasp class in having lettering mix in with the paintings whereas enhancing the storytelling—and his sound results in Turf Wars play an vital half within the motion. Comics are a silent medium, however Piekos understands the integral function of the sound design within the TV present, significantly almost about bending. The whoosh of air and fwoosh of fireside, the crunch of earth, the splash of water; these sounds all amplified the movement on the display, and Piekos consists of them on the web page. In addition they assist break down the sequence of the motion when exhibiting a number of actions in a panel, just like the opening shot of the police combating Tokuga’s gang that makes use of sound results to present the wave of various bending abilities a transparent movement throughout the panel.
Darkish Horse is house to many licenses, and the writer has gone above and past with its Avatar and Korra graphic novels, bringing collectively inventive groups that respect the supply materials whereas understanding learn how to invigorate it for a brand new medium. Given the game-changing nature of the Korra collection finale, the inventive staff of Turf Wars is able to take this franchise to thrilling new locations, and DiMartino, Koh, and firm seize the chance with confidence and keenness.