Top positive review
Family ties complicate
Reviewed in the United States on October 8, 2016
"She was born lucky. You were lucky to be born."
That's a pretty harsh thing for a dad to say. But it fits Fire Lord Ozai perfectly. In this story, we see how ruthless he was through some flashbacks that are interspersed with the current adventure. Zuko and Azula as children--Azula already cruel and calculating, hiding behind her childishness to portray false innocence--are caught up in a plot that puts Ozai's deep cruelty on display, revealing why Zuko's mother disappeared and what she was forced to sacrifice.
In the present, we see Azula continuing to butt heads with Zuko and with Katara, disturbing every scene with her outbursts and violence as she struggles with visions of her mother telling her her destiny lies beyond the throne. Aang and his crew continue to hunt down Ursa's past, following her trail to the thespian group she was once a part of and finally into the Forgetful Valley.
The art is really top notch in this, conveying every mood with depth and implied action where appropriate, and there's that really nice humor that's familiar from the animated series in moments like Aang being asked if he has secret knowledge because of his Avatar powers only to have him reveal he read it on a sign. And theme-wise, I LOVE the extra layer of brother-sister relationship exploration. We already had Katara and Sokka contrasted powerfully with Zuko and Azula, and now we have the story of Misu and Rafa. Another sister who is loyal to her brother and wants the best for him--and is willing to sacrifice for him. It says so much about their characters when Katara recognizes herself in Misu's actions, but Azula hears nothing but a sob story. She would be an entirely unlikable character if not for her desperation that betrays deep insecurity.
I'm looking forward to finding out what happens with the Mother of Faces and Zuko's mother in the final chapter!