The first issue of a new series running parallel to the events of James Cameron’s 2009 Avatar stumbles in context and editing throughout, but fans of the world will find nuggets of enjoyment.
Avatar: Tsu’tey’s Path looks to tell Tsu’tey’s story in the context of the action unfolding in the first volume of Cameron’s epic series. As such, we see Tsu’tey in training and training others of the alien Na’vi village.
The first book does a lot of work to set up the groundwork for the story to evolve in future issues. As it stands right now, however, confusing writing and editing have left a sour taste in my mouth. If it sounds like I am extremely down on the initial volume of this series though, just know that I was really looking forward to reading this.
Tsu’tey is presented as an adversary for hero Jake Sully in the first film. So I think giving the character his own book to flesh out his motivations and behaviors is an excellent idea. I haven’t given up on the premise of the series, as long as the story gets a little less nebulous and more straightforward in the next issue.
In the first issue of Tsu’tey, the premise isn’t the problem though. The execution is, and we are getting to that next. Having the opportunity to learn all about a relatively obscure character is never something I will turn down.
The biggest let-down of this introductory issue for me is the writing. The dialogue is fine and fits in with the style established with the film. It is also clear, however, that if you lack the references of the film, this book will make no sense to you.
From the first page, there is a lack of context. I know who these characters are supposed to be, but we are placed immediately into a scene with no context splash page. As much as I know about Avatar, even I needed to reread the first few pages about three times to really make sure I understood where these characters stood and what was going on. In all fairness, this cleared up after a little while, but the action definitely bled together and became cryptic in those first few pages.
By the end of the book, readers see very clearly where this fits in with the film in terms of a story line, and honestly, that context was enough for me. I do not like the decision to purposefully withhold context until the very end of the book.
With the insight gained at the end of the issue, it was nice to go back and take a look at earlier pages. I do feel that, even by the end, I have a better and more sympathetic understanding of Tsu’tey.
The artwork in the first issue of Tsu’tey can be evaluated in a few different ways.
To start, the character illustrations are a little on the shaky side. It is neat to see more Na’vi, but at the same time, unless you study these characters, they have very few defining physical features. The main characters, however, are easily discernible.
The environmental art is where the book really shines. I love how each page brings the world to new life. Without the excellent environmental art, Tsu’tey would be greatly lacking in the art department. In addition, action scenes are well illustrated, and these were the easiest scenes in the book to read.
Tsu’tey absolutely has the potential to clean up and tell an eye-opening story. The first issue stumbles with poor context and editing, however, making the first offering difficult to understand. I will be eagerly awaiting the next issue to learn more about what makes Tsu’tey, Tsu’tey.
*A copy of the book was provided by the publisher for review*
Avatar: The Path of Tsu’tey
Avatar: Tsu’tey’s Path #1
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Release date: January 16th, 2019
Written by: Sherri L. Smith
Pencilled by: Jan Duursema
Inked by: Dan Parson
Colored by: Wes Dzioba
Cover Artist: Shea Standefer