How I Became Yours (Avatar fancomic)

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Fan Comic
Title: How I Became Yours
Artist: Jackie Diaz
Date(s): 2008-2009
First Published:
Medium: digital
Genre/Style:
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
External Links: HIBY Rehost
HIBY.jpg
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How I Became Yours is an infamous ATLA fan comic.

Plot summary

The story centers around the Zuko/Katara pairing with Toph/Aang as the "beta couple" and Sokka/Azula taking the spotlight later on. It is set three years after the series' end, with Katara helping Toph manage her deceased parents' estate and coping with two huge losses: her romance with Zuko (who had returned to the Fire Nation to marry Mai) and her miscarried/stillborn (the way it's written never makes it quite clear) child, whom Zuko fathered. When Zuko learns of the child and that Mai had been hiding Katara's letters to him, he hits her and denounces her as his Queen before running off to find Katara again.

Meanwhile, Toph and Aang have a long-distant "almost relationship" going on; the two were shown kissing in a flashback but never confessed their true feelings. The two are seen pining for one another constantly. In a third sideplot, Sokka discovers an injured young woman near death and brings her to the Bei Fong estate. Additionally, Sokka and Katara are somehow the prince and princess of their tribe, despite the Southern Water Tribe canonically being more simplistic and peasant-like than their Northern cousins.

The Zuko/Katara and Toph/Aang plots come to a head during Katara's birthday party, in which the latter couple confesses their love to each other and the former is reunited in a grand, sweeping embrace.

The young woman Sokka rescued is discovered to be an amnesiac Azula, who bursts into tears and runs away upon facing accusations of her past crimes. After some drama, Azula is granted a "second chance" and allowed to stay at the estate where the group will take care of her. Sokka especially takes an interest in her education and well-being, and the two begin a romance.

All the while, however, Mai and her supposed older brother Sho seek revenge on Katara and Azula, more secrets are uncovered, and in the climactic battle Katara kills Mai and Azula is nearly killed by Sho until a trip to the North Pole's Spirit Oasis revives her. The epilogue set years later features the couples with their children, including the revived Azula looking almost exactly like Princess Yue.

Sequel

Diaz began a sequel, Rise of the Agni Army, some years later. This comic featured the teenage children of the couples dealing with unsettling changes on the horizon. Zuko and Katara are dead, Aang is said to be seriously ill, and the children of Zuko and Katara are seen facing prejudice for their mixed blood after being taken in by Sokka and Azula at the North Pole. This comic was stalled and never finished, possibly due to the announcement of Legend of Korra.

Fan reception

The comic had a following, but for the most part is infamous among the fandom for being so melodramatic, badly-written, and hamfisted that even fans of the featured pairings hate it. Die-hard Avatar fans will readily point out the extreme OOC among the mains, and how Aang, the Avatar himself, is pushed into the background once his subplot with Toph is more or less wrapped up.

The comic inspired many sporkings, MSTings, mocking fanarts, and memes among Avatar fans. At one point it was considered the one thing so ridiculously bad it could unite the entire fandom, at least temporarily.

Interestingly enough, the comic apparently predicted a development from Legend of Korra: daytime bloodbending. While the obvious inaccuracy was mocked when the comic first came out, such a thing would become possible due to the developments in bending, and be the trademark of the first season's main villain.

Characterization issues

The female characters were especially poorly written: Katara was portrayed as self-centered and whiny, even making her child's death all about her (she lost him the day before her birthday). Azula's amnesia allowed Diaz to rewrite her personality entirely, making her a weepy, submissive damsel in distress who cries constantly and needs lots of reassurance and cuddling from Sokka and Katara. Toph gets off only slightly easier due to not being as heavily featured later on, but she's still painted as an insecure young girl who needs Aang's love to make her whole.

The comic's treatment of Mai was also a huge point of discomfort for fans. Mai, who had actually pragmatic reasons for hiding Katara's letters and news of the illegitimate child, was demonized to the point of murder (it's revealed that she sent Katara poisoned fruit that caused her to lose the baby) and two attempted murders (she poisoned Azula and later tries to kill Katara). Many fans were horrified at the scene where Zuko physically beat her for lying to him, and when Katara was treated as a hero for Bloodbending Mai to death later on. Despite being the villain of the piece, readers sympathized much more with Mai than they did anyone else in the comic. Sho was also a popular character despite being an antagonist and causing an inconsistency (he referred to Mai as his baby sister, contradicting the canon of Mai being the oldest child of her family by over a decade).

Some fans also pointed out the unfortunate implications in how Mai, who is written as the villain, retains her Asian-inspired character design and is drawn to look as plain and ugly as possible compared to the other female characters, who are designed to look like medieval European Barbie dolls and are meant to be seen as good and heroic people. Not only is this a case of "beauty equals goodness," but it creates the image of the tyrannical and bitter Asian woman threatening the pure and wholesome Anglo-Saxon. (Curiously, Katara and Sokka retained their dark skin tone, possibly due to Katara's design being based on Diaz's own appearance.)

The romance between Sokka and Azula made readers uncomfortable due to Azula having to lose her memory and regress to an innocent, nearly childlike personality in order for her to be worthy of a romance, and the way Sokka has sexual and romantic designs on a childlike woman he's supposed to be taking care of. Not only does he end up sleeping with the mindwiped Azula, he gets her pregnant.

Stylistic issues

The art is also one of the biggest points of contention, particularly the style of the setting and the clothing not matching Avatar at all. The girls (except for Mai) are drawn with ridiculously large breasts and no diversity in their body types, and dressed in fancy European-style ballgowns. Sokka comes to resemble a dark-skinned Leonardo DiCaprio more and more, while Aang's 12-year-old head is basically pasted onto a muscular adult body. The backgrounds are blatantly copypasted from Google Image Search (or pasted together, as in the case of some turtle-ducks[1]), and Katara is seen with the Hall Sapphire Necklace photoshopped onto her.[2] One particular scene featured Zuko and Sokka lifting an obviously flipped Aang onto their shoulders.[3] Mai was the only one who resembled her canon self at all, though this was meant to be a bad thing by the comic's standards.

Tracing accusations

The comic was originally hosted on DeviantArt until a few prolific fans discovered Diaz had traced screenshots from the series and claimed them as her own artwork. Diaz was subsequently banned from the site, though she continued to insist that the drawings were her very own work. One of the most blatant examples of tracing was the use of canon character Suki as one of Mai's maids; Suki herself was unceremoniously written out of the comic to make way for the Sokka/Azula romance.

Fan works inspired by the comic

External Links

References

  1. ^ Bottom panel, scene is from chapter 3
  2. ^ Bottom right panel, scene is from chapter 2
  3. ^ Scene is from chapter 4