Welcome back to the Avatar universe, everyone! I’m a happy fan today because Suki finally got the standalone story she deserved. Suki, Alone meaningfully expands the lore of Avatar: The Last Airbender and slots neatly into the story’s existing timeline. As Avatar graphic novels go, this one is top-notch. Before I dive into the revie
w, credit where it’s due. Graphic novels take a full team to produce. Here’s the squad in charge of this story:
- Script: Faith Erin Hicks
- Art: Peter Wartman
- Colors: Adele Matera
- Lettering: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt
Suki, Alone details two crucial stories that give more shape to Suki as a core Avatar character. The “primary” story here tells us of Suki’s capture after she leaves the island of Kyoshi with her fellow Kyoshi warriors to fight the Fire Nation. During her time in Boiling Rock prison, she befriends a cadre of beleaguered captives and starts a secret garden, which she then uses to nourish her fellow prisoners. “Stronger together” is her mantra throughout. Fitting, because the secondary story jumps to the past. Suki and her friend Mingxia enjoy gallivanting around the island as children, and as they get older, Mingxia starts to feel bogged down by the island community’s choice to isolate. As the Kyoshi Island denizens realize their harvest may not sustain them through the winter, Mingxia recommends that they break their years-long isolation and seek help from elsewhere, while offering their skills and services in return. The elders scoff at Mingxia, and she ventures off on her own. A few years later, now a leader of the Kyoshi Warriors, Suki has a change of heart and leaves, following in Mingxia’s footsteps.
The Suki we know from the animated series is a strong, capable warrior and a warm, loving friend. She strikes a balance between the two identities almost immediately when we meet her. She scoffs at Sokka for his lack of understanding, quickly educating him that one can be both a woman and a warrior. Suki, Alone doesn’t need to teach us this lesson. Instead, the graphic novel reinforces these ideas. We see a lighter, perhaps more timid side of Suki as she grows up on the island. The fierce warrior emerges once Suki realizes she needs to use her resources to help the larger world. In Boiling Rock prison, Suki gets the same narrative. She forms friendships and connects with fellow prisoners, then deftly lays out a tactical plan to keep them nourished.
While we know all of this about Suki from the show, Suki, Alone gives us a reason to be excited about the extended universe. Suki’s journey adds new layers of characterization, reinforcing who we know her to be while simultaneously giving us important context about where she came from. And to tie it all together, Suki, Alone ends just as a crucial Boiling Rock moment from the series begins.
Compared to other recent Avatar content like Katara And The Pirate’s Silver, this book stands out as an impeccable example of the universe as a wellspring of untold stories. Suki, Alone expands on a fan-favorite character and fills a gap. It doesn’t add much to the world itself, instead opting for a sharply focused character story. Reading it feels like the rush of relief after you find that one puzzle piece you’ve been hunting for.
Avatar fans will take to Suki, Alone like a turtle-duck to bits of bread. The graphic novel is a worthy extension of the show’s lore and a connective story that fits perfectly within the Boiling Rock saga.