Gene Yang's "Avatar" Series "Smoke and Shadow" to Explore Fire Lord Zuko's Legacy

"Superman" scribe Gene Yang revealed the challenges Fire Lord Zuko will face in his and Gurihiru's upcoming "Avatar: The Last Airbender - Smoke and Shadow" series from Dark Horse Comics during an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

"One of the best things about working on the comics is that we get to tie up some loose ends that the series left," he explained. "And the series left them intentionally, I've talked to Mike [Dante DiMartino] and Brian [Konietzko], the creators of the original show about it, and we talked about how life in general, we often have loose ends so they wanted that feel. So in the comic, we bring some resolution."

Yang went on to say that, in the new series, "[Zuko] brings his mom back to the Fire Nation, because a lot of it will be about power -- it'll be about how Zuko was handling being the Fire Lord... I think all of us are haunted by our families, our families of origin in some way. We worry about either continuing the legacy of our parents or falling into the same pitfalls as they did. And I feel like that's just a hundred times worse for Zuko. So the focus will be really on the Fire Nation world family, and on how Zuko deals with power and fear."

In this case of parental legacy, Zuko will face "the temptations... about being haunted. He takes on the role as dad, he sits on the same throne that his dad did, but he doesn't want to be like his dad... At the same time, that's the only model he has to follow, that's the only Fire Lord that he really remembers seeing up close. So a lot of the ways in which fear drives us to abuse power, those are all temptations Zuko is going to have to face."

Though this may seem like a complex situation for the comic tie-in to a children's show, Yang believes that the series is built for that. "Even though it's targeted at kids, it dealt with really adult topics in really subtle ways... Almost no character is really evil or really good. And when I was watching this, Zuko was my favorite character and I think it's because all of us can relate to that struggle between good and evil."

"When we were talking about what to do with these three books, Brian described to me this group of Fire Nation women warriors that they were kind of batting around," he recounted. "And unfortunately, that concept got left on the cutting room floor. So ['Smoke and Shadow'] will be a little bit like the Fire Nation equivalent of the Kyoshi warriors. We're bringing that concept in now, so that will be one of the main adversaries of the book."

Yang also added that he'll helm the upcoming three issues, as well as three more after that.

"Smoke and Shadow" -- to be released as three volumes before being collected into a single hardcover edition -- follows the events of "The Rift," shifting the focus back on the Fire Nation and a segment of the population none too happy with the rule of Fire Lord Zuko. Some malcontents have even set up a new rebellion called the New Ozai Society -- headed up by none other than Zuko's ex-girlfriend's father.

"Smoke and Shadow" Part One hits stores September 23, 2015. Part Two releases December 16, 2015.

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