Adaptive Panels Presents… Avatar The Last Airbender: The Lost Adventures

I’m conflicted over whether or not I should have begun this series with The Lost Adventures. Chronologically, it’s the oldest entry in the Avatar comic’s canon, but I wanted to make a big impression at the start and had been waiting to talk about The Promise for a long time. However, in retrospect The Lost Adventures feels far more like a footnote to the cartoon series rather than the beginning of the comics run, so perhaps I shouldn’t have included it at all. Also, I feel like I need some filler here, because I’m really going to struggle this week to have anything interesting to say about this one!

In any case, we’ll be fully up to date with the ongoing Avatar storyline for the near future after this week, so the next Adaptive Panels will be beginning a whole new story. What story? I have absolutely no idea, but in the mean-time…

Overview

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The nature of The Lost Adventures means there is no way I can comprehensively cover everything in this book. It’s a compilation piece, of all the comic shorts that were released during the run of the original series in separate magazine issues, chronicling dozens of stories of Team Avatar hijinks that never made it to TV.

Being just a collection of shorts however should not automatically be counted as a point against it. After all, when the show did a short stories episode the results were some of the best moments from the original series (I still well up a little at The Tale of Iroh, can’t tell a lie). Some of the shorts here even attempt to answer questions about the original series that I’ve always wondered, such as who would win in a fight between Toph and Bumi, and whatever happened to Jin?

Unfortunately, it also means that there’s far too much here to tell you what every tale is about, but also that there are no individual tales that really have enough meat on them to be worth scrutinising on their own.

Analysis

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I suppose the closest thing I can say as a ringing endorsement of The Lost Adventures, is that there are quite a few stories here that I wish had been made into full episodes, because they cover interesting topics and provide great moments of character development. Take Relics for example: In it, Aang encounters a merchant selling old airbender artefacts. When the merchant tells him he acquired them recently, Aang believes they might be evidence of other members of his people surviving their genocide. Searching the area alone, he finds a secluded camp, only to discover he’s been tricked by Zhao, who has copied an old tactic used by Fire Lord Sozin to lure the last enclaves of air nomads to their doom. Aang escapes, as per usual, but the gut-punch of his hope being cruelly extinguished yet again is harsh. There’s more than enough here to make a twenty minute episode of the show, but as it is it feels like a lot of that impact has been stripped out, leaving it less than it could have been.

In Divided We Fall, the gang gets lost in a swamp (again), and ends up regrouping, but being held against their will in an old orphanage by a senile old woman, and a non-specifically mentally handicapped man who I’m left to assume is supposed to be her adopted son. Their story is a sad one, but again, I’m left wishing the writers had been able to make more of it. As it stands, it’s over too quickly and wrapped up too neatly.

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As for the majority of the stories, well there aren’t any I would call bad, they’re just exactly what they were written to be. They’re light bites, mostly entertaining in their own way, but lacking any real substance that might make them interesting to talk about. I will say that the change in art styles between the different shorts is… something. Unlike the rest of the comics, whose writing and art have been consistent, multiple talents have converged to make what would become The Lost Adventures. Some are clearly striving for an accurate-as-possible re-creation of the style of the cartoon, with others bringing their own heavy flavour too it. I won’t lie, most of the wilder deviations aren’t really to my taste, but having the comparison to make is nice, and seeing art style that would come to inhabit the mainstream comics evolve over the course of this book is interesting.

Conclusion

Mostly entertaining in its own way, but unless you’re a completionist, you probably won’t get much from The Lost Adventures.

…That was this week’s OpinionatedDavid article!!! Check back tomorrow for a new VuePoint piece!!!

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