I must say, the elephant in the [war] room is Ozai, and it's interesting that he did not appear in the comic at all. How will Ozai lead his nation effectively now that he doesn't have Firebending to scare the people off?
Well, it's only the first part; he'll probably appear later on when they get deeper into the story. One thing I'm unsure about now is the Kemurikage. Are they really spirits or is somebody pulling a fast one? I wouldn't be surprised if Ozai was behind it somehow.
I knew I was forgetting something important. Holy shit, that was hilarious. "Does my wave have enough ANGST? How can I wave with ANGST unless I FEEL the ANGST?"
Honestly, I'm pretty meh on the story. I'm almost certain it'll go some Scooby Doo route, but aside from that, I just have trouble believing that an army started by Mai's father is a legitimate threat. Other than that, though, I enjoy the Mai/Ty Lee reunion, seeing the Fire Nation & Kyoshi Warriors work together, the developments with Ursa...pretty much everything aside from the 2 things I complained about, though they are major things.
Yeah, I do in part share those same concerns but I'm a bit more optimistic that they won't take it down the Scooby Doo route. If they find some way to make a legitimate spirit threat and pull that off, I'll be really impressed, but I agree with all the points you've mentioned. The Kyoshi Warriors have always been some of my favourite characters and so I'm glad they're getting a bit more exposure finally. And Zuko really becoming a badass Fire Lord is super nice to see. I want more crazy firebending and authoritative lines from him, that was really great.
Why do you have trouble believing it's a legitimate threat?
Ukano was not portrayed as very powerful or capable in the episode he appeared in, & the New Ozai Society was so shitty in Rebound that Mai defeated all of them single-handedly.
Mai is hardly a weakling, but how do you go from not being able to take her on to being able to fight her, Zuko, the Kyoshi Warriors, & soon enough, the Gaang? It doesn't make any sense.
Maybe their defeat by Mai was a wake-up call and they decided to get better training and or members to combat future threats? Maybe the group expanded between the Rebound and Smoke and Shadow? Maybe not all the members were at the meeting Mai attended? There are a plenty of potential explanations if you look for them.
And there are reasons why each of those explanations are implausible:
Training: It's been, at most, a few months. And I think that's highballing it. So how is that enough to allow them to suddenly match Zuko & the Kyoshi Warriors, who trained for years? Remember, at 1st, they succeeded in capturing Zuko's group.
Expansion/better members: What suddenly changed that they could motivate these people to join? You'd really expect membership to drop as Zuko's reign wore on & people realized it wasn't the end of the world. Is it news of Yu Dao? But why should whatever nonsense argument Ukano has about that sound worse to them than deporting the colonists back to the Fire Nation, which was the original plan?
The other members weren't there: It was a really important meeting, they were hoping to inaugurate the boss's daughter. Whom, incidentally, they also know has connections with the warden of the Boiling Rock & the Fire Lord, & was on Azula's personal team, which took down Ba Sing Se. So they should know that shit is really going to hit the fan if she says, "No." The only way absences should affect their effectiveness this much is if either the majority of members &/or the elite members were away, which there is no reason for.
Not to mention, none of this addresses the issue of Ukano's incompetence, in fact it reinforces that. If his planning was so poor the first time around, even if his defeat "woke him up," cribbing a few tips off of Zapp Brannigan's Big Book of War wouldn't really help. Just how would he manage to so drastically transform his fighting force in such a short amount of time?
And then apparently lose that edge right after? After the attempt on Zuko's life, 3 months passed by without incident.
I think it's possible he's secretly communicating with someone from his jail cell, but that's not how I see it. I think the Kemurikage are most likely a previously unknown party, using the New Ozai Society as disposable pawns.
I just finished reading Smoke and Shadow Part One, so imma talk about it. Ok, so I really liked it, and I think if done properly, it can be just as good, or even better than The Rift (which btw was amazing). Some things I'd think I think should be discussed is how did Zuko learn the rainbow fire thing because that was totally bad***, I mean, I can't even comprehend... Also, I really want to know what the Kemurikage is, even though I still don't think they're actual spirits, my theory is actually that Azula got a ragtag group of friends and had them pose as the Kemurikage, with Azula being the mastermind. I'd also like to state the Zuko and Suki chemistry in the book, even though I don't think it'll happen, I feel like it should be worth discussing, though I might be imagining things... Speaking about romantic, I have a feeling Kei Lo and Ty Lee will get together, and honestly, I ship it, but that's just me. Finally, I noticed the lack of Aang and the rest of Team Avatar, even though I know they'll come back next book, it was interesting without most of the main characters.
I really enjoyed it, the characters were themsleves which I thought the comics didnt handle well until this one. It was also nice to see aang having some fun again, He was way too serious in the last one.
Loved the Ursas hesistation about going back and her reuniting with iroh, it had a good mix of action, character interaction, and even some spiritual stuff.
Only now have I managed to get hold of the comic, and I gotta say this is my 2. favorite story, as far as Avatar comics go. The Rift was "meh" , The Promise was just "OK" because there was no way that Aang would keep the titular promise, and The Search was great, but this is a close second.
Zukos character was spot-on, his bending was AMAZING, and the action pieces were nicely drawn. The back-and-forth during the meeting between Ty Lee and Mai was soooo good, it almost seemed just like the show, and the moment when they talked about their fear of Azula coming to punish them felt very real and scary. And the family connection between Iroh and Ursa was a nice little touch, before she got terrified of that Ozai tapestry. I didn't really notice the lack of our main characters, there was enough story to keep us occupied.
I find it hard to believe that the Kemurikage are spirits. Why would they care so much about who sits on the throne of the Fire Nation? It seems unlike of the spirits to find themselves interested in the politics of the Physical World knowing what we know after The Legend of Korra (except, of course Vaatu). And if they did, why would they want Ozai? My guess is that the Kemurikage are only another organization, that wants Ozai to be in charge, and they are just using the New Ozai Society to their means. They kinda remind me of the League of Shadows from DC, for their use of secrecy and theatricality.