The Legend of Korra – Book 1: Air, Chapter 1: Welcome to Republic City
The Legend of Korra begins in the same place as Avatar: The Last Airbender big, the Southern Water tribe. A small girl introduces herself by blowing the door of and proclaiming she is the avatar and we’ll have to deal with it. Even at a young age she can bend water, earth and fire. So unlike Aang in every way.
As a young adult Korra excels at the physical, but lacks the spiritual growth. Of course that could be because she is practically a prisoner in a compound built just for her, where she must check in and out. Kitara is the only character to appear in both shows. Here, she is an old woman and mother to Master Tensen who is charged with teaching Korra air bending and help her get in touch with her spiritual side.
Unfortunately Tensen can’t stay because the new capital of the four nations, Republic City, has some problems. Korra isn’t allowed to leave because the city isn’t safe for her. Korra decides otherwise and slips out of her compound to run into Kitara, who verbally passes the torch to Korra be saying Aang’s time is over and now its Korra’s generation’s time. A not so subtle, but nice gesture my the Avatar crew.
Korra stows aboard a steam freighter bound for Republic City. Up until this point there has been very little difference between The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra. But once we enter Republic City we are treated to an early 20th century city complete with traffic lights, cars and bums fishing in public parks. Korra has her eyes opened at the problems with the weld outside her compound. She doesn’t need money back there, but here she can’t do anything without it. There are people who don’t like benders. And then there is the crime. Korra has a run in with some racketeers… who bend. In fact the three benders practice the three bending elements that Korra already has mastered. And that tips the locals to realize who she is. When she wrecks the gang’s hot rod a bunch of metal benders appear. What’s a metal bender? Well for now it’s a cop who apparently manipulates metal in the same way a fire bender manipulates fire. After a brief chase Korra is caught and brought into the station. A tough middle-aged woman who doesn’t care that Korra is the avatar. And that woman is Toph’s daughter. Tensen has to bail her out. No love loss between Korra and the top cop of Republic City.
Korra mounts a convincing argument that Republic City needs Tensen, but it also needs the avatar. Tensen is unmoved at first, but then comes to realize she is right. Later she is introduced to Republic City in a press conference. She is a bit uneasy until she speaks her own words. Then we cut to a pulp villain not happy with the arrival of the avatar to the city.
A lot of the show feels familiar. There is genuine emotion, intelligence and humor. This is a very worthy successor to Avatar: The Last Airbender.