The Legend of Korra graphic novels return later this fall - and with them comes the return of fan-favorite character Toph.
In November 12's The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire - Part 2, a search for Toph is underway as Korra looks for advice in the building political strife between the Earth Kingdom and Republic City.
Newsarama had the chance to talk to the creative team - writer and creator of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Korra, Michael Dante DiMartino, and illustrator Michelle Wong. We discussed how Commander Guan’s plot will affect Team Avatar, Korra and Asami’s relationship as tension builds with Kuivera, and how Toph’s return will affect the series’ political storyline.
Newsarama: The ending of part 1 showed Commander Guan using mind control. How will the cliffhanger play a part in this chapter?
Michael Dante DiMartino: Mind control is only the first step in Guan’s larger plan to restore the Earth Empire to power. Let’s just say, he’s not done controlling people’s minds yet or manipulating the system.
Nrama: In the last chapter we saw Korra and Asami on different sides of the situation with Kuvira. How will this affect their relationship moving forward?
DiMartino: Asami continues to distrust Kuvira and refuses her help when it’s offered. Korra is still wary of Kuvira, but definitely more open to working with her and accepting her help in dealing with the Earth Empire. This ends up leading to a bigger rift between Korra and Asami.
Nrama: On the flip side, what can we expect from Korra and Asami’s relationship with Kuvira towards her road to redemption?
DiMartino: Kuvira continues to struggle with her old identification as “the Great Uniter" and her new role as a force for good. She keeps trying to do the right thing, even when people don’t want her help. Some of the moments I’ve enjoyed writing the most in this arc are Kuvira’s flashbacks. We see another one in volume 2 that further explores Kuvira’s relationship with her adoptive mother, Su.
Nrama: What can you tease about this chapter’s political tension?
DiMartino: In the end of Volume 1, Guan becomes a candidate for governor of Gaoling and Korra gets the idea that Toph - Gaoling’s home town hero - should run against him. Volume 2 focuses on Korra and King Wu trying to convince Toph to run for governor. Will Toph step up and rejoin public life or will she remain a hermit in her swamp cave?
Nrama: Michelle, do you have a favorite sequence you worked on for this volume?
Michelle Wong: Like Mike, I’m also very fond of working on Kuvira’s flashbacks. That’s probably tied with Korra and Wu’s conversation with Toph in her cave as my favorite sequence.
Nrama: Did you get to work on any new designs?
Wong: It doesn’t really count as a new design, but if anyone saw the Vol. 3 cover, they would know that Asami, Bolin, and Mako wear the Earth Empire uniform at one point, and that was a cool change.
Nrama: How did your work on part 1 affect your art for part 2?
Wong: I learned a lot when I was working on Part 1! My editors and Mike always gave really great notes on my artwork and storytelling that I tried to keep in mind for Part 2. I definitely got a lot more comfortable with layouts as well as how I draw the characters.
Nrama: Anything on the bucket list to draw in the Avatar/Korra universe?
Wong: I would love to draw something featuring Azula someday.
Nrama: What character shines the most in this chapter?
DiMartino: Toph makes her return which is always enjoyable. I love writing her dialogue and she has a great new nickname for King Wu.
Wong: Kuvira gets a cool action sequence and some nice development, and of course Toph brings so much character to every scene she’s in. I’d say it’s those two, but in different ways.
Nrama: Would you like to see these stories explored in different mediums - animation, motion comics?
DiMartino: One thing I love about writing the graphic novels is that they can exist as books and people can continue to enjoy this world and the characters without the pressure and expense of putting together a whole animated production.
Wong: I think it’s always fun to imagine how something might look when adapted into different mediums, and obviously I haven’t had the experience of seeing my work animated before so that would be exciting, but I hope fans can enjoy the comic for itself!
Nrama: How has your collaboration with each other grown with the second volume
DiMartino: Michelle’s work continues to impress me. With each volume, her layouts and drawings keep getting better and better. She did some beautiful, subtle physical acting and expressions for Korra and King Wu when they talk to Toph that really stood out for me.
Wong: I feel like Mike trusts me more now -- crossing my fingers I don’t get shot down with this.
Nrama: What are you most excited for Korra/Avatar fans to see with this chapter?
Wong: The results of Guan’s nefarious plans.