By this point, the comics that have expanded on the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender are like a world all their own, that carry on the legacy of the animated franchise through several collections of stories. Typically, these graphic novels focus on advancing the story of the show’s cast through the years following the series’ finale.
However, Faith Erin Hicks, Tim Hedrick and Peter Wartman’s upcoming title, Katara and the Pirate’s Silver, takes a refreshingly different approach.
Initially, Avatar comics gave fans exactly what they wanted. After a pitch-perfect series finale, the show left fans voraciously hungry for more, and the follow-up series The Legend of Korra satisfied that desire to some degree, but fans still wanted to know where the original cast ended up, what their lives following the war were like and how their various plotlines and character arcs resolved.
For the most part, the existing Avatar comics have done splendidly at answering those questions. The search for Zuko’s mother, the proliferation of metal bending and chi-blocking throughout the world and many of the details of what happened in the gap between The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra are all present in the comics. The franchise’s overall story advanced, and the characters grew. But at this point, Avatar could use a return to the era that made the series great in the first place, and that’s exactly what Pirate’s Silver offers.
Set during Book 2, Pirate’s Silver is set to focus primarily on Katara as she embarks on her own adventure and teams up with a band of pirates to help save her friends. There are two main features here that make the project unique in comparison to the previous forays into comics. First and foremost is its semi-prequel setting, where the story digs back into the timeline of the original series rather than advancing it.
While it’s fascinating for fans of the series to find out where their favorite characters ended up, many of those questions have already been answered by this point. It’s not clear how much characters could still grow in the increasingly covered terrain between Avatar and Korra after so many sequel comics have covered that period.
But by returning to the past, the franchise can shed new light on what we knew about the characters and give viewers a new perspective from which to evaluate the episodes sandwiching the story of Pirate’s Silver.
The other chief differences between Katara and the Pirate’s Silver and previous Avatar comics is the decision to focus on Katara specifically. While the problem is more present in The Legend of Korra comics, part of the problem with advancing plotlines in the illustrated adventures is that there just isn’t room for the whole cast to shine. It’s hard for any particular character to receive much attention because there are so many others elbowing their way into the spotlight. By focusing on Katara individually, the new book has more latitude to explore her as a character and to let her grow all the more throughout the story.
While the comic won’t be the first one set during the timeline of the original series — Lost Adventures and Team Avatar Tales already did that — it will be the first one to do so while focusing on one character while telling a story that feels bigger than a random side adventure. This potentially opens the door for other similar comics focusing on other characters, and the possibilities are endless for what that could do for the Avatar franchise.
We could see the Kyoshi warriors’ adventures traveling the Earth Kingdom during the war, or perhaps the bounty hunter June and her shirshu Nyla as she picks up contracts and gets in bar fights. Even the White Lotus could finally receive more attention than ever. Anything seems possible now that the Avatar comics are willing to dig back into the original series’ timeline and highlight the unseen adventures of individual characters. By returning to the past, the world of Avatar seems to have a clear path to the future.
While the era between Avatar: The Last Airbender and the Legend of Korra has been explored, one upcoming comic takes the franchise into new territory.