Avatar: Suki Alone Attempts to Bring the Kyoshi Warrior Into Focus, But Fails
Brenton Stewart
Comics set in the universe of Avatar: The Last Airbender often dig deeper into the franchise's beloved characters. To that end, Suki Alone represents an exciting opportunity. Set primarily during the Kyoshi Warrior's imprisonment at the Boiling Rock following her capture in Season 2, but before her future rescue, the comic delivers a unique glimpse into Suki's experiences.
Suki Alone is undoubtedly an original story from a welcomed perspective, but the story's content fails to live up to the hopes of Avatar fans. Written by Faith Erin Hicks, with artwork by Peter Wartman, coloring by Adele Matera, and lettering by Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt, Avatar: Suki Alone is from a team that's familiar with the Avatar Universe.
The story itself weaves through unseen pieces of the history of the original show, primarily taking place in prison at the center of a volcano in the Fire Nation, but with frequent flashbacks to Suki's past. In Avatar: The Last Airbender, viewers witnessed Suki's rescue from the prison, but the comic provides the story of her perseverance up until that rescue.
Ultimately, the script's main problem is that it's just not that interesting. With just a smattering of action throughout its story, the bulk of the drama rests on Suki trying to secretly foster a source of nutrition within the prison walls to keep her and her fellow prisoners strong as she reflects on her past. However, the story never really amounts to much more than that, nor does it convey new depths to Suki's journey that Avatar fans were hoping to see.
Avatar fans fascinated by the world and interested just by the virtue of Suki Alone's insights into its lore may be most disappointed of all. Instead of revealing more about the world of Avatar, the comic continuation just seems to actively contradict information already established about the world. This is particularly puzzling given the creative team's familiarity with writing past Avatar comics. Kyoshi Island is consistently portrayed as a fishing village, for instance, and writer Hicks' own previous story Shells supported that. Yet Suki Alone makes a major plot point over the Island's agricultural dependence.
The story and characterizations aside, the artwork is as strong as ever. Its art style finds an organic middle ground between mimicking the show's animation while still adapting it for a comic format. Though Avatar comics experimented with many variations along that spectrum over the years, Suki Alone proves there is a comfortable groove here that's easy to admire.
Ultimately, the biggest strength of the comic is in its idea. The characters of Avatar who did not originally get the narrative space that they deserve during Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra absolutely deserve their own comics. Despite being a member of Team Avatar itself Suki appeared in only 11 episodes and virtually nothing is known about her fate throughout Korra. This is a fantasy setting that enraptures countless imaginations and fans have a voracious appetite to explore it as much as they can.
Unfortunately, that only makes the comic's failure more disappointing. Fans never wondered in the first place how the hyper-capable warrior Suki survived her imprisonment prior to her rescue. By exploring that story, the comic manages to answer a question no one was asking, all while presenting no big revelations and none of the thrilling action that characterizes much of the franchise. At the end of the day, Suki Alone is best left alone.