Katara on the left, Toph on the right

There are fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and then there are fans. Fans of Avatar have likely watched all three books of ATLA and also all 4 books of The Legend of Korra. Fans of Avatar have read the two Kyoshi novels as well as the excellent Dark Horse comics, such as the most recent one-offs, Katara and the Pirate’s Silver and Toph Beifong’s Metalbending Academy. Fans of Avatar can tell you their favorite character on the show. Fans of Avatar discuss why lavabending is a form earthbending and not firebending, using scientific reasoning and everything.

Yep, fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra (which I’m a bigger fan of), have been clamoring for more Aang and the gang ever since Avatar: The Last Airbender ended way back in 2008. And thankfully, the comics have provided that relief. And with each new comic, I learn a new thing or two about the world of Avatar. Here are just five things I have learned after reading these two standalone comics. Oh, and by the way. Spoilers up ahead.

The Fire Nation

The Fire Nation Was Fed Lies About The Air Nation Before They Decimated Them

In Katara and the Pirate’s Silver, which takes place during the events of Book 2: Earth, we see the gang get knocked out of the sky by the Fire Nation. The group is fine, but Katara falls off of Appa and gets separated from them. Katara proceeds to go on her own little adventure with some pirates, while Aang, Sokka, and Toph are assaulted by a Fire Nation soldier who happens to see them.

The gang make short work of him, with Toph encasing him in rock. But we learn from him that he was indoctrinated to believe that the Air Nomads were “plotting to take over the world,” which is why the Fire Nation felt they had to kill them. This of course upsets Aang who lost his people to genocide because of the Fire Nation, but he’s not able to change the soldier’s mind, no matter how hard he tries to show him reason. This is really fascinating because you don’t often get to see what the grunts on the ground are thinking, just furthering the notion that the Fire Nation are the Nazis of the world of Avatar.

Katara

Team Avatar Actually Went On A Number Of Adventures We Previously Didn't Know About

I love The Legend of Korra comics. They let you know what happened after the events of the show. But if there’s one thing that I wish the LoK comics would do, it’s to give little side-stories during the events of the show. Because look, I love every season of both series. But there are characters from The Legend of Korra that I’ll never see again in future comics, like Tenzin’s kids when they were younger, or Asami’s dad, Hiroshi Sato, who died.

But the Avatar comics have been quite generous in this regard. As mentioned earlier, Katara and the Pirate’s Silver is a side story that fans of the show never knew about before. We learn that Katara wanted to be tougher like Toph. And though this story was created AFTER the series ended, we get a feeling that it makes sense within the timeline, especially when she takes on Azula toward the end of the TV series. Events that take place in this comic build upon Katara as a character, which I love. Plus, The Lost Adventures comics do so as well. It’s just great to learn more about Aang and the gang!

Sun

Toph Knew Lavabenders Existed During Her Lifetime

Now, not all of the Avatar comics take place in-between the events of the show. In fact, most of the comics, which go in this order—The Promise, The Search, The Rift, Smoke and Shadow, North and South, and Imbalance—take place after the events of ATLA and lead up to the events of The Legend of Korra. And Toph Beifong’s Metalbending Academy fits into this category.

What’s really cool about this book though is that we learn that Toph, who created metalbending, also knows about lavabending, which is pretty surprising. Now, she can’t actually do lavabending herself—the book doesn’t retcon that—but she’s aware of its existence, and we meet a new character named Sun who can pull it off. There are hints of lavabending in ATLA, but it looks like only Avatars such as Kyoshi and Roku could do it. It’s much more clearly defined in The Legend of Korra, so to see that Toph clearly knows what it is is a revelation that I didn’t know about before reading this comic.

Old Toph

Toph's Metalbending School Was Very Safe And Successful...And It Bored Her

We learn in the Avatar comic, The Promise, that Toph is opening up a metalbending school, and by Toph Beifong’s Metalbending Academy, we learn that the academy is super successful! Her disciples, Ho Tun, The Dark One, and Penga, are now experts at metalbending themselves, and the school practically runs itself. So, of course Toph is bored and misses her old life of adventure.

Thankfully for Toph, Sokka and Suki (which is one of the show’s best couples) come to the rescue and bring her to a concert (I’ll get to that next), which she leaves because she hates it. But she soon discovers a sort of underground fight club for benders, which sets her off to learn about the lavabender mentioned earlier. But it’s just really cool to learn more about the metalbending school, since you know that it will eventually lead to Toph forming the metalbending police force in The Legend of Korra.

Chong and the band

Chong's Secret Tunnel Band Is Now A Sensation

Oh, man. Do you remember that episode “The Cave of Two Lovers” where we meet wandering singer Chong and his friends? He sings the super catchy “Secret Tunnel Song”, which Sokka can’t stand. Well, guess what. Chong is super famous now, and we find out in Toph Beifong’s Metalbending Academy that his group is now called Trustfully In Love, and they have a huge number of fans—with Suki being one of them.

You see, this is why I love the comics. Chong seemed like such a throwaway character, but the comics gave him even more depth, and his arc even coincides with Toph’s, which is wonderful. I honestly didn’t think I would ever see Chong ever again, so to see him here made me give a big thumbs up…to nobody in particular since I was all by myself when I read this book, but I definitely gave a thumb’s up. I remember doing it.

Seriously, if you’re a fan of Avatar, then you have to read these comics. The next one-off (And one-off’s actually might be the future of the comics if this any indication) will be the aptly titled, Suki, Alone, which is set to come out on June 22nd of this year, and will chronologically take place between the events of “Appa’s Lost Days” and “The Boiling Rock.” I can’t wait!

Will you be picking up Suki, Alone when it comes out in June?
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