It’s been about three years since Avatar Aang and his friends defeated Fire Lord Ozai. The world has changed, mostly for the better. Team Avatar won the war against the fire nation, but they are still striving to bring real balance to the world. Can Aang truly bring balance? Or will the world suffer from another power struggle a power struggle for the next decade? Imbalance takes place after the events of The Rift and continues the legend of Aang. The group stops by Cranefish Town to check on the Beifong’s factory, Earthen Fire Industries. Lao Beifong needs Aang and Toph’s help as there’s a civil war brewing between benders and non-benders.
Since this is a non-spoiler review, I won’t go into detail when it comes to specific moments, but the book has some of the best Avatar moments since the original series. One of the most significant issues with the expanded material is that the Gaang sometimes acts out of character. Aang and Katara’s romance feels forced, Sokka jokes don’t land, etc. Writer Faith Erin Hicks and artist Peter Wartman make this feel like a true continuation of the show while still giving us something new.
The idea of a Bender/Non-bender civil war is interesting because this is still an issue all the to The Legend of Korra’s first season. Imbalance doesn’t tie-in to Korra, but it makes the two worlds feel more connected. It’s a self-contained story, and honestly, that’s when ATLA is at its best. We’re just following Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Toph as they try and restore balance to the world.
It raises questions on acceptance, bigotry, and what it means to be equal. Aang has to find a compromise for all sides, and at times he can’t handle it. These are issues be can’t easily solve with violence, and that’s what makes it a compelling story.
Imbalance returns the series to its roots. The Avatar is addressing issues around the world with a witty sense of humor and fantastic action. The only real downside is that there isn’t a sequel.
Avatar: The Last Airbender – Imbalance is available wherever books are sold, and the Hardcover Library Edition was just released today!