Legend of Korra – Turf Wars Part 1 Review

The Legend of Korra is back in the much anticipated comics, Turf Wars. Part 1 was released just this past month and now we’ve had a chance to give it a read or two, let’s get to the review.

I interviewed Irene Koh, the artists behind the new comics back here. Check it out, she had a lot to say about her style and work.

Art Style

The art in these Korra comics is impressive, though different to what we saw onscreen in the series. Koh brings her unique interpretation to the characters and scenery and her spirit world scenes simply leap off the page.

If you are expecting it to be exactly like the Studio Mir style, you might be disappointed, but I much prefer Koh’s style to that of Gurihiru in the Avatar the Last Airbender comics. Both art style capture the tone and feel of the series, but in different ways. Avatar the Last Airbender had much more defined lines and block colours, while Korra contains more shades and less clearly defined lines.

There’s a rough and fluid look about Koh’s drawings that make the characters look more alive, more active, and more engaging. Turf Wars has a number of action scenes, both with spirit creatures, and with bending – it all feels impactful in this style and the elemental bending looks real oftentimes.

Moreover, the rougher style is more in line with the post-battle atmosphere of Republic City and its inhabitants. Korra and Asami still look a little war-worn, travelled, and alive. Koh manages to create a sense of movement and atmosphere that is complementary to the animated series.

Storylines

The comics have always delved into some of the political fallout of the epic adventures we saw on television, and Turf Wars is no exception. Korra and Asami return from the spirit world to find Republic City still in tatters, still rebuilding, and the tension between gangs, landowners, and politicians raging.

Where the series triumphed was in showing us an understandable villain who had a cause, an ideology, and a history. We were often given chance to see what led them to their villainous acts, and so the conflict could become more tense. With relatively few pages, Mike Dimartino has something of a challenge to set up a similarly complex villain.

There are minor obstacles and people who just gum up the works, but the main antagonist is, as yet, somewhat undefined. A shadowy figure whose motives are not clear. It remains to be seen how this will play out, especially with some of the spiritual influences now being employed. Fans of Avatar will also note similarities to Jet – the freedom fighter with somewhat ambiguous morals.

Characterisation

Dimartino manages to keep the characters pretty much as we left them. Korra and Asami are exploring not only the Spirit World, but their feelings for one another. Their character parallels are also brought out, allowing the audience to see how they reflect one another, and how they can help one another.

Korra is still hot headed, still passionate and quick to anger when outraged. Asami, similarly, has a firm sense of justice and can hold a grudge. These pitfalls can be the cause of some of their troubles at times, but they also clearly care about the other and quickly leap to their defense, or to pull them out of the situation.

Lin and Mako’s buddy-cop dynamic is begging to be explored more and we get a delightful glimpse of it. They know how to work a suspect, and they have even developed some techniques between them that provide plenty of humour. Bolin, similarly, has landed a job in the police and looks eager to be Mako’s ‘buddy cop’, but his brother is hilariously less enthusiastic.

We get some sweet scenes with Kya as she acts as something of a relationship counsellor for Korra and Asami. She also provides a quick history lesson on the Avatar world’s views on same sex relationships. No spoilers, but Korra asserts that Fire Lord Sozin was, “the worst”.

Tenzin makes some brief appearances, as does the increasingly corrupt President Riko. The latter is played mostly for laughs, I think, but I would love to see more of what made him the way he is. Clearly, Riko had some skills that got him elected in the first place, perhaps he once had a real passion for change and has become corrupted by the system. That would be a very interesting track to explore.

Overall

This first part of the Turf Wars series is an encouraging beginning. Filled with tons of action, breathtaking scenery, and intriguing plot points, it will no doubt be keeping fans interested for years to come. Who knows? Perhaps Nickelodeon will give us another Avatar series one of these days, too.


More Avatar!

Jeremy Zuckerman Interview – The Music of Avatar

Janet Varney Interview

Korra Comics: Irene Koh Interview