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A trilogy of Graphic Novel digests published by Dark Horse Comics, acting as an Interquel between Avatar: The Last Airbender and its Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra. The story is written by Gene Yang (American Born Chinese) with input from series' creators Michael Dante Di Martino and Bryan Konietzko, and drawn by Gurihiru.
After Ozai was defeated and the war ended, Team Avatar and the world's governments set to work restoring balance to the world. Zuko, worried that he might go mad with power like his father, makes Aang promise to kill him should he ever become a threat. One year later, a dispute breaks out over the Fire Nation colonies in the Earth Kingdom, and war may break out yet again. Worse yet, Zuko is taking the colonies' side, making the conflict worse and forcing Aang to accept that he may have to fulfill that promise after all.
The first volume was released on January 25, 2012 and the second on May 30, with third due on October 9.
Tropes in The Promise Comic
- Eighties Hair: Early preview images showed Zuko sporting a sort of mullet. The ensuing negative fan reaction led to Zuko being redesigned.
- Action Girl: Kori.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Like every Fire Lord, Zuko.
- Ozai implies that the Fire Lord has to be a badass in order to deal with the job - and that he thinks Zuko's not up to the task.
- Badass Cape: Part of Zuko's new wardrobe.
- Berserk Button: Being compared to his father is one for Zuko, but what really pushes him over the edge is being considered a traitor and coward to his nation.
- Katara's can be summed up in eight words: "STOP...TRYING...TO...SET...MY...BOYFRIEND...ON...FIRE!"
- Big Entrance: Toph uses Earthbending to leap into Appa's saddle mid-flight.
- Bodyguard Babes: The Kyoshi Warriors serve as Zuko's personal bodyguards after his previous guards fail to intercept several assassination attempts.
- The Bus Came Back:
- All remaining Freedom Fighters, including the long-vanished Sneers who makes his first appearance since Jet, return with Smellerbee as their new boss.
- Earth King Kuei, who seems to have gotten back in the political game pretty quickly after Ozai's defeat.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Justified subversion. Kori wears red tones, despite being an Earthbender, because she's legally a Fire Nation citizen and thinks of herself as such. She wears some green underneath the red, though, presumably because of her and her mother's Earth Kingdom and Earthbender status.
- Conflicting Loyalty: Zuko, once again, has to deal with it.
- Cooldown Hug: Katara continues to pull Aang out of the Avatar State when she feels he's gone too far.
- Could Have Avoided This Plot: Zuko boxes himself inside the city of Yu Dao as part of his withdrawal from the Harmony Restoration Movement. After an escalating series of scuffles nearly culminating in Aang making good on his Promise, Zuko says they should talk about this... prompting Aang to flip his lid and say that's what he came here for in the first place.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Toph to her students.
- Emo Teen: Toph's metalbending student, who prefers to be known as "The Dark One". (his real name is Moo-Chee-Goo-Chee-La-Poo-Chee the Third)
- Epic Flail: Kori wields a meteor hammer. Because the 'ball' is made of stone, she can manipulate it with her earthbending for easy retrieval and trick moves.
- Evil Mentor: Like he once did with Uncle Iroh, Zuko goes to his father for advice.
- Fan Girl: Aang and Katara meet a group of Avatar fangirls, many of whom are also fans of Air Nomad culture.
Won-Yee: What an honor it is to meet Avatar Aang's first girlfriend!
Katara: Why thank you, I -- wait, what do you mean, "first"?
- Fantastic Racism: Considering the issues of imperialism and colonization are at the heart of the story, this isn't surprising. Smellerbee refers to the Fire Nation as "those ash-makers" for illegally occupying sovereign Earth Kingdom land. Sokka gets called a Water Tribe savage by an Earth Kingdomer who throws a brick at him. Toph gets repeatedly called a "dirt girl" by a firebender. Despite being extremely multicultural by in-universe standards, no Fire Nation citizen is going to be shining an Earth Kingdomer's boots in Yu Dao.
- Foregone Conclusion: If you've seen any of the publicity for The Legend of Korra, then you know that the conflict will be settled by transforming the Fire Nation colonies in the Earth Kingdom into the United Republic.
- Foreshadowing: The cover of Part 3 shows Aang using his ultimate Avatar State elemental sphere technique.
- As of Part 2, the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation forces are on verge of war over the colonies.
- Glad I Thought of It:
Sokka: Wait! You can't leave me alone with them! The oogie-osity's only gonna get worse when you're gone! How am I supposed to keep my food down?
Toph: Well, you could come with me.
Soph: No, no. Hey, how about I go with you?
Toph: Great idea Sokka. Wish I'd thought of it.
- Good Versus Good:
- The conflict between the Fire Nation colonists (and Zuko) who do not want to lose their homes and the people who want to remove them (the Gaang, Earth Kingdom) from land conquered during the war.
- A smaller-scale example is Aang and Zuko's philosophical divide over Yu Dao's social order. While Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation citizens live and work together in the colony, Fire Nation citizens are still firmly on top of the social ladder. Aang takes issue with this oppressive inequality but Zuko, while admitting things aren't perfect, feels that such inequality is an acceptable price to pay because everyone is better off than they would be otherwise be.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Katara, briefly, when Aang hangs out with some fans. Justified, as one of them calls Katara Aang's first girlfriend.
- Honor Before Reason: Zuko pulls out of the Harmony Restoration Movement without notifying his friends, presumably acting quickly so no more of his citizens would have to be taken from their homes against their will, and justifies this as being the right thing to do by his people. See below for how this almost leads to Poor Communication Kills. This later comes back to bite him in the butt with the Earth King. Having broken one treaty without so much as a warning, Kuei sees no point in negotiating with Zuko again after he's proven himself to be untrustworthy.
- I Am Not Left-Handed: Kori and her mother are Earthbenders, a fact the former doesn't reveal until long after Zuko has taken her prisoner and then uses to easily escape her bonds.
- Ignore the Disability: Averted. Earth King Kuei compares the Fire Nation colonies to an old scar on the Earth Kingdom... in front of Zuko. He immediately apologizes, though Zuko doesn't take offense.
- Instant Waking Skills: Zuko. Both times he gets up, he's alert and looking for another assassination attempt.
- Interquel: Takes place between Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra.
- Kryptonite Ring: Of sorts. Zuko knows that, if he turned evil like his forefathers, Aang would be the only one capable of preventing another world war -- by killing him. The 'ring' in this case is the promise Zuko extracts from Aang, who normally won't kill anyone, even genocidal child abusers.
- Lady Looks Like a Dude: Sokka confuses Smellerbee for a 'he'. Katara quickly corrects him.
- Late Arrival Spoiler: Zuko having a Heel Face Turn and becoming Fire Lord were major plot points during the show's final season. Here, you learn about it in the first couple pages.
- Like Father, Like Son: Zuko becoming like his father is a big worry for both Zuko and Aang, forming one of the main dramatic arcs of the trilogy.
- Lineage Comes From the Father: Despite being both an Earthbender and of mixed nationality in country that was until recently Fire-supremacist, Kori is legally a Fire Nation citizen because her father is one.
- Love Quadrilateral: There are hints in Part 2 that Suki's falling for Zuko. She's caused a rift between Zuko and Mai by spilling out the fact that Zuko's visiting his father.
- Mama Bear: Kori's unnamed mother. She single-handedly Earthbends boulders in front of the Fire Lord and his personal guard's faces in order to safeguard her husband and daughter.
- Manipulative Bastard: Ex-Fire Lord Ozai gets to show here that he's definitely where his daughter got it from.
- Moment Killer: When Gene Yang said The Promise would begin exactly where the TV series left off, this is what he meant.
- Never Say "Die": Toph's tallest, fattest student (named Ho-Tun) is constantly worried about everything being 'doomed.' According to Gene Yang, Ho-Tun was originally worried about death. Nick nixed that as being inappropriate for the comic's younger demographic. That said, when referring to actual threats of death, the direct words are used as often as the euphemisms.
- Occupiers Out of Our Country!: The motivation of the Freedom Fighters and their fellow protesters.
- Opening Narration: By Katara, as per usual.
- Poor Communication Kills: Zuko's turnaround on the colonial issue comes across as inexplicable to the Gaang and makes Aang seriously consider invoking his promise to Zuko. When Aang, Katara, go to meet him, the hostile reception Yu Dao's soldiers give to Aang and Katara provokes a fight that only stops when Aang starts to go into the Avatar State. It's only after that close call that Zuko is finally able to explain his position.
- It Got Worse. Now both the Earth and Fire Nations are at war as an insulted Earth King Kuei feels he's been deceived yet again.
- "Previously On...": The book opens with a modified version of Katara's Opening Narration from the cartoon, which briefly sums up the events of the series.
- The Promise: It's right there in the title. A great deal of tension lies in Aang's promise to kill Zuko if he were to become too much like his father.
- Properly Paranoid: Zuko
- Punctuated for Emphasis: Zuko hits Ozai's Berserk Button by claiming he trusts Aang more than Ozai or even himself causing Ozai to roar "LEAVE. MY. PRESENCE!"
- Punctuated Pounding: Katara waterbends several Fire Nation soldiers while shouting "STOP TRYING TO SET MY BOYFRIEND ON FIRE!"
- Puppy Dog Eyes: Sokka uses them while he pleads with Toph to tell him what The Dark One's real name is.
- Race Against the Clock: Smellerbee gives Aang three days to settle matters with Zuko before the Freedom Fighters take matters into their own hands.
- Relationship Upgrade: Katara and Aang are now a full-blown couple and deeply in love... to the annoyance of their friends, who find it difficult to put up with the cuddles and pet names.
- The Reveal: Zuko's final conversation with his father Ozai (which was cut off halfway after Zuko asked where his mother was) is shown in full here.
- The Un-Reveal: ...and Ozai promptly taunts Zuko, answering nothing about Ursa.
- Rival Dojos: The Bei Fong Metalbending Academy and Master Kunyo's firebending school stage a duel over the property rights to a training dojo. The metalbenders win.
- Saved by Canon: Almost all the main characters -- save Mai and Suki, whose futures are currently unknown -- have to survive long enough so they can have their Spin Offspring and/or found the United Republic of Nations.
- Shoot the Dog: Roku advises Aang to do with Zuko what he should have done with Sozin, should it become necessary.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: Yes, It's Kataang.
Toph: Sweetie? Seriously?
Sokka: I know, right? Sooo oogie.
- Standard Female Grab Area: Played with. Zuko catches Katara off-guard from behind, grabs both of her arms, twisting one around behind her back (which is a known real-world submission hold) and has her other arm outstretched above her head so that she can't move it easily. Katara's dialogue does makes it appear that she could still break free and continue attacking him, though she's reluctant to because he's her friend.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Sokka goes with Toph to her school, not because Katara and Aang's oogies are bothering him or anything.
- Valley Girl: Aang's fangirls speak like this.
- Violently Protective Girlfriend: Katara, not that we didn't already know.
- With Us or Against Us:
- Kuei tells this to Aang, after making it clear that the Earth Kingdom will re-take Yu Dao as per the Harmony Restoration treaty.
- Kori to Sneers, after he lets it slip that he's part of the protest looking to evict the Fire Nation from Yu Dao. Although rather than frame it as an issue of nations, as she had done to Zuko in the first volume, Kori presents it as protecting the city of Yu Dao itself.