Graphic Novel Review: the Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire Part One

I am currently sitting on the floor of my brand new, completely unfurnished house in my home state of Washington. It’s been a long time coming and I’m so happy to be home but I knew I needed something to occupy my evening before my stuff arrives. I picked up the Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire Part One (graphic novel 76 pages) created by Bryan Koonietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino. This particular book is written by Michael Dante DiMartino, art by Michelle Wong, colors by Vivian NG, lettering by Rachel Deering, and the cover by Michelle Wong and Vivian NG.

“Kuvira’s back – and Korra must decide who to trust! On the eve of its first elections, the Earth Kingdom’s future is endangered by its past. Even as Kuvira begins to stand trial for her crimes, holdout defenders of her imperial ambitions threaten to spark a new war. But when Korra and Team Avatar don’t all see eye-to-eye as to the solution, it’s time for a risky road trip.”

I am constantly astounded by how much we can learn and grow from fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and media such as graphic novels. In Ruins of the Empire, the Earth Kingdom is working towards its first democratic elections. As such, there are some really interesting points that are equally applicable to the real world we currently live in. Things like how those in power will do anything they can think of to remain in power and those who seek out power are rarely those who should have it. For example, the two officials running for election in the Gaoling province of the Earth Kingdom are both already members of the current political system. They have power, money, and prestige, but there is no one running against them, which means that the current system is unlikely to change.

Then, Commander Guan shows up with the backing of his military forces which did not surrender when Kuvira surrendered to the Avatar at the end of Book Four. Team Avatar thinks that he’s there to participate in a military take over but he actually submits his bidding to be considered a candidate for the election. King Wu and the other members of Team Avatar have an actual discussion about finding a way to disallow Commander Guan from submitting his candidacy, which is actually undermining the democratic process. If people are truly going to vote, those in charge don’t get to choose who the candidates are, so long as all of the rules and laws concerning their candidacy are followed.

Considering the parallels with the current democratic and political system in the United States, this graphic novel had a lot of interesting points about what democracy means and how to participate in the process.

Meanwhile, I’d like to say that the art and lettering for this graphic novel are both really well done. The book flows well and it’s clear what’s going on. I also like the continuing and realistic character development in the series. The character development even goes so far as to thinking about what kind of different attire each character would wear if they went to a sauna. From Korra’s shorts and top to Zhu Li’s classic one piece to King Wu’s towel, each character’s attire is distinctive as to who they are as people. I think it’s the little details that really create realism and believability for stories.

Overall, I’m very glad I found this in the bookstore this evening. It’s an interesting and positive addition to the Legend of Korra story. I will definitely watch for future books in this series and will continue to purchase them as they come out.

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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