The Avatar franchise originated with Avatar: The Last Airbender but has expanded far beyond the original animated cartoon over the years.
In addition to the sequel (The Legend of Korra), the series was continued more directly through comics. They’re dedicated to exploring further what happened to Aang and his friends after the defeat of Fire Lord Ozai. Later, Korra’s story was also given a sequel in the comics.
I present a simple guide, the comics lists released to date, and the reading order for those who want to venture into this world. Let’s go?
1 – Team Avatar Tales
Before the sequel comics, the series has a few single volumes. Most of these are concise stories, released alongside those of other franchises in free special editions of an event called Free Comic Book Day.
Others are contained in a volume called Team Avatar Tales. The first in chronological order is Relics, which follows Aang, Katara, and Sokka during the first season of the animation. Origami, another short story featured in the collection, is also set during the series, but sometime in the third season.
Other short stories presented, such as Sokka’s Poem and Toph and the Boulder, do not make explicit where they take place, as they are entirely separate from the main plot. Still, leaving them for after the series seems to be the best option.
In addition, Rebound, Shells, and Sisters are also presented, all taking place after the animated series. It is worth noting that Rebound deals with the events of The Promise, so it is essential to read this other comic before it.
2 – Katara and the Pirate’s Silver
In chronological order, Katara and the Pirate’s Silver takes place before some of the stories in Team Avatar Tales. More specifically, it is located after the events of Book 2, chapter 9, Bitter Work.
This was the first comic book released as a single volume, a larger, complete story, unlike the previous tales, and it was not divided into three parts like most of the comics in the franchise.
The protagonist is Katara, who is separated from the rest of the team when they go through a Fire Nation blockade. While avoiding projectiles from his enemies, Appa accidentally throws the girl into the water.
Unable to reunite with the others, the water bender must avoid capture by allying with a group of pirates. But for them to take her outside the blockade, she must prove she is strong enough to take on anyone.
3 – Suki, Alone
Despite being the most recent release, having debuted in July of this year, Suki, Alone is one of the first stories in chronological order.
As the title implies, it is all about Suki, taking place precisely in the run-up to episode 14 of Book 3, The Boiling Rock. Like the Katara comic, this is a single-volume story.
The story’s premise is that having been captured by the Fire Nation, Suki is taken to the most secure prison in the country. There, she must deal with being completely alone, without Team Avatar or the other Kyoshi Warriors.
In the midst of this, she decides to build a new community with the other prisoners. This is no easy task, however, since trust is not something easily found among frightened people. So she must find a way to achieve her goal with more than words of encouragement.
4 – The Promise
The Promise is the comic that started the direct sequel series, being released in 2012. It continues the story of Aang and his friends, beginning shortly after the end of the original aminated series. Here, the main characters are the Avatar and Zuko, the new Fire Lord.
Although the war is over, the two must deal with the tension still present in the world during this time of significant change. Therefore, they take a slightly different approach to solving problems in one of the former Fire Nation colonies before it worsens.
This leads the two characters, who became great friends, to face a dangerous path that could set them against each other again.
To make things even more dramatic, Zuko asks Aang to make him a promise: if he starts to follow his father’s path, Ozai, he wants the Avatar to guarantee that he will stop him at any cost — even if it means killing him. This promise gives this three-part comic its name.
5 – The Search
The second comic book in the series was released in 2013 and also consisted of three parts. This time, the focus is one of the great mysteries left behind from the animated series: searching for what happened to Ursa, Zuko‘s mother.
As a result, the main topic this time is the Fire Nation royal family, including the history of Ursa and Ozai from their youth. After the animation, Azula also appears again, showing a little more of her destiny and revealing that she has been placed in a mental health facility.
Despite the character’s condition, she accompanies Zuko on the search for her mother. Aang, Sokka, and Katara are also helping the search, finally answering what happened to Ursa.
6 – The Rift
Next comes the comic The Rift, from 2014. Again, the story emphasizes the Avatar team and steps in building the universe we see in The Legend of Korra. Like the others, it consists of three parts.
At this point in the story, Aang is already a 14-year-old boy and begins creating Republic City. Toph is also more involved in this chapter. It deals with the clash between being too attached to tradition instead of focusing only on the future without considering the past.
The Avatar team is preparing for the Yangchen Festival, a traditional celebration of the Air Nomads that has not taken place for over 100 years. During this time, Aang begins to receive mysterious messages from the Avatar Yangchen’s spirit, investigating what is happening there.
7 – Toph Beifong’s Metalbending Academy
Another single-volume comic, Toph Beifong’s Metalbending Academy, was released earlier this year in February. Again, the story occurs between the main trilogies, specifically after The Rift and before Smoke and Shadow.
In the plot, Toph lives a simple life-transforming earthbenders into metalbenders. Her academy even has the proper infrastructure, but she begins to get bored of the daily tasks. So her former students, Penga, Ho Tun, and The Dark One, start helping her with her workload.
In addition to the earth bender, Suki and Sokka also make appearances in the story.
8 – Smoke and Shadow
This three-part story is once again focused on the Fire Nation. Smoke and Shadow was released between 2015 and 2016 and followed on from the events of the previous comics.
Zuko must deal with a new challenge as Fire Lord: those citizens who still support Ozai. With the help of Aang and Mai, he faces a mysterious group calling itself the New Ozai Society, whose goal is to overthrow the new ruler and restore his father to the throne.
Things become even more complicated with the actions of mysterious evil spirits called Kemurikage, who endanger several children of the Fire Nation.
9 – North and South
Next comes North and South, released between 2016 and 2017. This time, the focus is on Sokka, Katara, their family relationships, and the two Water Tribes.
In the beginning, the brothers return to their tribe, finding a place that has become very different from the small village where they grew up. The two soon meet their father, Hakoda, the current chief of the tribe, also discovering that Malina, a woman from the Northern Water Tribe, has played a prominent role in the changes in their home.
During all these changes, the two must deal with what they mean to them. Also, things get a little more personal with the romantic involvement between Hakoda and Malina.
Imbalance follows the previous events in three parts comic. Released between 2018 and 2019, it begins with some tension between folders and non-folders.
The Avatar Team reconvenes, arriving in an industry where they are not well received, due to the growing disputes between those who can use bending and those who are not.
This leads them to try to resolve the conflict, which keeps getting worse and worse. Thus, Avatar needs to find a solution that makes both parties happy.
The basis for many vital conflicts that occur in The Legend of Korra begins to be established here. In addition, the story deals with industrialization, another theme very present in the second animated series.
11- Free Comic Book Day
Like the Avatar: The Last Airbender comics, Korra’s story received some short stories from the Free Comic Book Day celebration.
The first of these, Friends for Life, tells how the protagonist met Naga, her polar bear dog. Thus, the story shows Korra as a child, taking place before the main events of her cartoon.
The other two stories, Lost Pets and Clearing the Air, have some elements that are only shown in the last book of The Legend of Korra and are best read after watching the cartoon.
12 – Turf Wars
The first comic that follows The Legend of Korra events directly is Turf Wars, which begins precisely where the animation ends. Thus, we see Korra and Asami together, exploring the spirit world.
The story was released between 2017 and 2018 and delved into their relationship and the impact the human world and the spirit world have on both sides.
Korra must deal with new threats as she navigates this new relationship and how other people react to it and fulfill her role as Avatar by bridging the conflicts between humans and spirits.
13 – Ruins of the Empire
The second trilogy of The Legend of Korra comics (and last so far) was released between 2019 and 2020. Its story deals with the fall of the empire formed by Kuvira, also following up on the plot presented in Turf Wars.
Here, the future of the Earth Kingdom is threatened by its past as the nation’s first election approaches.
While Kuvira tries to regain her honor, Commander Guan threatens the peace Korra has built by trying to take power for himself. To avoid this, Korra and Kuvira must work together to ensure the future of the Earth Kingdom.