LEGEND OF KORRA TURF WARS PART 1 BY MICHAEL DANTE DIMARTINO AND IRENE KOH
Plot
Characterization
Art
Summary
The creators dive head first into the new relationship between Korra and Asami and the politics of a post-Kuvira Republic City in a fairly satisfying way that should leave long-time fans of the series wanting more.
93 %
Exciting on an elemental level

I didn’t believe it when my brother broke the news to me that the LEGEND OF KORRA ended with the two female leads getting together. After all, the entire thing was unprecedented. Gay relationships hadn’t really existed yet in children’s animation. They’d been implied and alluded to, but nothing directly stated from the creators that these relationships were canonical. Since then, many more examples of queer representation have made their way into children’s animation. However, I’ll never forget this first one. I guess that’s why I’ve been so excited for LEGEND OF KORRA TURF WARS PART 1.

TURF WARS’s creators, Michael Dante DiMartino and Irene Koh, certainly helped with the hype. DiMartino co-created the AVATAR series, while Koh is a truly fantastic illustrator. This graphic novel not only holds true to the tone and style of the show but keeps to the fantastic story long-time fans know and love.

Queer Representation in Cartoons

Before Korra, the closest positive representation given in children’s cartoons was ADVENTURE TIME. While nothing ever got explicitly stated on the show, interviews with cast members confirmed that Marceline and Princess Bubblegum were in a relationship. Before this, coded gay characters appeared in cartoons as villains, such as Him from THE POWERPUFF GIRLS. Shortly after the ending to LEGEND OF KORRA, however, shows like STEVEN UNIVERSE and THE LOUD HOUSE brought more on-screen queerness. Yet for me, the first and most direct example has always been THE LEGEND OF KORRA. I’m not going to say the other shows wouldn’t have incorporated LGBT+ characters without THE LEGEND OF KORRA, but someone had to take the leap of faith first. Fortunately, it turned into a positive experience for all.

TURF WARS: The Rights to The Spirit World

The comic book picks up moments after the TV show ends. Korra and Asami vacation in the spirit world. They swim, climb up rock spirits (whoops), and even talk about how they came to realize their feelings for one another. Of course, this bliss cannot last and they must return to Republic City. Once they return, they learn that a sketchy developer wishes to turn the spirit realm into an amusement park. While this goes down, one of Republic City’s gangs (the Triads) finds itself under new leadership, and they intend to wreak havoc all over the city. All the while Korra and Asami must work together to restore Republic City and stop this looming threat.

LEGEND OF KORRA TURF WARS PART 1
Image courtesy of Dark Horse Comics

Aside from Korra and Asami starting TURF WARS in a relationship, the plot is fairly standard fare for the series. The biggest threat, of course, is the “turf war,” a term with multiple meanings. This term describes the gang violence in the city, the feud between spirit and mortal realm, and arguably even society’s acceptance of Korra and Asami’s relationship. These interwoven threads help strengthen the plot as a whole.

READ: Onscreen queerness is important. Check out our article about it here! 

Sexuality In The World Of Avatar

TURF WARS also shows its ability to tackle sexuality in this world, something unexplored prior to this issue. It’s not super prevalent since it’s not the main plot. However, hearing how Korra’s parents react to their daughter coming out and how Kya, Aang’s daughter, handled her own sexuality leads to some interesting world-building. Turns out gay relationships still find themselves discriminated against in this world.

Back when Sozin ruled the Fire Nation, he outlawed same-sex relationships and had people engaging in them arrested. The Earth Nation as a whole also feels strongly against LGBT+ individuals, despite Avatar Kyoshi reportedly being openly bi. Even if Korra and Asami’s friends and family have thus far appeared encouraging of their relationship, they will need to confront the rest of the world at some point. It’s their decision whether they wish to continue the tradition and keep their relationship private, or show the world they are out and proud.

READ: THE LEGEND OF KORRA did more than just bring us Korrasami. Check out it’s PTSD importance here! 

Picture Perfect Images

I really liked the art’s slight deviation from the tv show’s style. It’s a tad more cartoony with thicker lines around each character. Yet, when they fight, it seems as though their bodies move through the water. The amount of color packed into each panel seems impossible, but it’s right there before your eyes. Even the shading between scenes makes it seem either warm and loving… or downright sinister. While the strength of any AVATAR property has always been the intricate writing, the art in this issue shows why these stories remain a visual medium.

LEGEND OF KORRA TURF WARS PART 1
Image courtesy of Dark Horse Comics

In the end, part of me wishes they included more of Korra and Asami’s relationship in the comic. Mostly because I do want to see people react to them and how they handle it. Yet what’s there is really rather enjoyable. There’s room for growth on their end, just like how the plot appears ever-expanding. A lot gets alluded to with the gangs and land developers. However, since it’s the first issue, nothing gets paid off. For those of you dying to know more about Korra and Asami, TURF WARS is for you.

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2 Comments

  1. Derek Clinton

    July 26, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    How did the art in this comic get such a high rating despite it being awful? Thr characters looked distorted in some images, and the images themselves didn’t transition well from one scene to the next?

    Reply

    • Kay

      August 29, 2017 at 9:45 am

      Because they and other people like the style more than you do.

      Reply

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