The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars-Library Edition is written by Michael Dante DiMartino, with consultation from Bryan Konietzko, and is illustrated by Irene Koh with layouts by Koh and Paul Reinwand, and colors by Vivian Ng, with assistance by Cassie Anderson and Marissa Louise, and lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot. It is published by Dark Horse Comics. After The Legend of Korra finale, Avatar Korra and her girlfriend Asami Sato take a vacation to the spirit world. Upon returning, the two work on their relationship while also dealing with a threat that puts the Spirit and Human worlds in danger.
While DiMartino has served as a creative consultant on other comics set in the Legend of Korra and Avatar: The Last Airbender universe, this marks the first time he has written an official spinoff. Under his pen, Turf Wars truly feels like a continuation of the animated series. Korra is just as headstrong as she is in the series, and struggles with her personal life and Avatar duties. Supporting characters like Bolin, Mako, and Tenzin also show up and their characterization is perfect. I can hear the voice actors in my head as I read!
Another element that makes Turf Wars feel like the animated series is Koh’s art. Her designs hew extremely close to the show. Not only that, but the characters’ movement and fight scenes feel fluid and flowing. The Avatarverse is renowned for its bending scenes, and Koh goes all out with those sequences. Airbenders summon spheres and discs of whirling air. Earthbenders slam their feet into the ground, splitting it apart. It truly is a sight to behold. Koh’s artwork also features contours that give it sharp yet distinct edges, setting it apart from the animated series.
Rounding out the artistic team is Ng on colors; her palettes feel warm and inviting. Again, this makes the book feel like it could have been the “lost episodes” of Korra; that series and Avatar: The Last Airbender thrived by using color to set the mood. It’s a trick Turf Wars uses to great effect, especially in the Spirit World.
Where the show and comic diverge is how the creators work with the main character’s sexuality. The main thrust of the book deals with Korra and Asami’s relationship; how others react to it and how that changes the dynamic between the two. There are heartwarming scenes, including Korra coming out to her parents; and there are heartbreaking scenes, where Korra admits she worries about Asami even more now that they’re together. DiMartino and Koh handle these scenes with an immense amount of grace; they feel real and I’m glad that this medium can explore that without being limited by the boundaries of television censors.
In addition, a war erupts between rival gangs for control over territories, which draws the ire of the Spirits and brings a new threat in the form of gang leader Tokuga. Tokuga is disfigured by a vengeful spirit, which leads him to grow immensely power-hungry. He not only serves as the main antagonist but a twisted take on the harmony that humanity and Spirits could achieve. These threads intertwine perfectly as the story progresses, leading to an explosive conclusion between Korra’s allies and Tokuga’s forces.
The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars is a perfect continuation of the animated series, due to Irene Koh’s amazing artwork and the input of the series’ creators. The conflicts tackle issues of class and sexuality and see our heroine balancing a new relationship with her duties to protect two worlds. It also happens to be an amazing love story, and I recommend that all Korra fans read it.
All three parts of The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars are available wherever comics are sold and through Comixology using our affiliate link.
The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars is a perfect continuation of the animated series, due to Irene Koh’s amazing artwork and the input of the series’ creators. It also happens to be an amazing love story, and I recommend that all Korra fans read it.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.