Picking up right after the finale of the popular cartoon series, The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars -Part One is the comic continuation that fans have been anxiously waiting for. Written by co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino and drawn by Irene Koh, the actual Turf War occurring in the ever changing streets of Republic City takes a backseat to a more pressing matter: the romantic relationship between Avatar Korra and her best friend Asami.
The book begins with Korra and Asami’s vacation in the Spirit World, which is also a beautiful showcase of all the beauty and majesty of the land. Koh’s illustrations go a long way here and are, for me, the highlight of the book. The creative team brought out all the bright colours and detail of the Spirit World that fans have been missing due to the multiple dark conflicts the characters have been thrust into from the series. Of course, the major reveal of this scene is that the two popular female characters confirm their love for each other and enter into a relationship. While the cartoon series only hinted at this relationship, it’s great to see Korra and Asami’s deep affection for one another blossom on the page as the creators intended.
It’s no surprise that Korra and Asami’s relationship is the biggest chunk of the read in Turf Wars- Part One because it shakes up things for the world of Avatar. Instead of playing around with who is straight or gay because of the restrictions of a children’s cartoon, the creative team now has the freedom to build up and reveal these sexualities to the reader in a meaningful way on the page instead of only in Q&A panels. While some parents might be scared of handing this book to their children because of the reveal of LGBTQ relationships, I believe that this book provides a great starting point for this kind of conversation. All of the characters that fans love and remember still carry their iconic personalities and quirks, demonstrating that just because they’ve been revealed as gay doesn’t that they are viewed as a token, or that that one aspect is viewed as a defining characteristic. It is treated as a natural fact of the character and they are still the same people that we grew to love throughout the show.
While I enjoyed this portion of the book I was disappointed in the lack of a threatening conflict. For a book called Turf Wars, I was expecting something with a little more meat on the bones, even if this is a build-up volume. Much of the core conflict feels the same as previous seasons, with humans and spirits having issues co-existing with each other and the Avatar stepping in to calm down the fire. The core villain of the read, Tokuga, is the weakest yet in Korra’s Rogues Gallery. Instead of having any weighty ambition or ingenious master plan like Amon or Zaheer, Tokuga is just a one-dimensional gang leader. Hopefully, the next couple of volumes will build this character up into someone that doesn’t feel like just a punching bag next to the rest of the story.
Overall The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars - Part One is still a fun read that I recommend to any Avatar fan itching for more of their favourite characters. The conflict might feel minuscule now, but seeing the world of this epic cartoon build out even further is a treat in and of itself.
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