Avatar: Tsu’Tey’s Path #3
Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Sherri L. Smith
Artists: Jan Duursema and Dan Parsons
Even after its third and penultimate issue, Avatar: Tsu’Tey’s Path still feels directionless. At this point, the story directly intersects with the events of the 2009 film. While the idea seems to be to show what was happening “offscreen,” the comic fails to make any meaningful additions to Avatar’s plot. And there was plenty of room for that. By now the core issue is apparent, namely that Tsu’Tey isn’t that compelling of a protagonist. And this is from the series that gave us Jake Sully.
In the film, Tsu’Tey adequately served his purpose as Jake’s wary rival. He didn’t have much else going on but he at least gave the main character an important foil. Unfortunately, Tsu’Tey’s Path doesn’t build off of that characterization. A lot of what the comic does establish, like Tsu’Tey’s shock at Jake’s successes and his fear of the threat humanity poses, was implicit in the film. The book doesn’t do much better with its own additions. Even the introduction of Tsu’Tey’s departed lover fails to add anything to the story. This issue does focus on his rage over Jake’s relationship with Neytiri. But the way it’s handled, along with the rest of his characterization in this series, leaves Tsu’Tey’s as a bitter and petty radical instead of the complex, tragic figure the rest of the story treats him as.
While it’s not Jan Duursema’s best work, Tsu’Tey’s Path #3 has considerably better art than previous issues. The faces are a lot more emotional and it’s easier to tell the characters apart. This issue features a few impressive action set pieces that carry a real sense of intensity and energy. Wes Dzioba’s colors also look a lot better and don’t clash as much with Duursema’s art as they previously did. Tsu’Tey’s Path also finally comes close to capturing the distinct atmosphere of the film. While only one issue remains, hopefully, the art will continue to improve.
Even with this change of pace, Tsu’Tey’s Path still feels severely underdeveloped. It’s hard to see all of this turning around in one issue, especially considering Tsu’Tey’s ending has already been established. Trying to tell the warrior’s side of the story is a decent enough idea. He definitely has more charisma and potential than the two-dimensional hero of the film. But the little Tsu’Tey’s Path introduces to its hero’s backstory fails to flesh him out. If anything, the miniseries removes Tsu’Tey’s mystique and doesn’t make up for that.
Avatar: Tsu'Tey's Path #3
Issue #3 offers improved visuals but the writing still can't catch up.