The new series is titled Avatar: Tsu'tey's Path, and is written by Sherri L. Smith (Lucy the Giant) and drawn by Jan Duursema (Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi), with inks by Dan Parsons (Game of Thrones), colors by Wes Dzioba (MSTK3), and covers by Doug Wheatley (Star Wars: Dark Times). We recently had the chance to sit down with Smith and Duursema to chat all about giving fans another way to explore Pandora and beloved characters from the film in a brand new way.
Avatar is getting two new sequels over the next few years, but in the meantime, fans can get another glimpse of the first movie from Tsu'tey's viewpoint, and if you're confused about the timeline Sherri Smith's got you covered.
"Tsu'tey's Path takes place within the timeline of the first Avatar movie," Smith told ComicBook.com. "It starts before Jake Sully encounters the Na'vi, and, as the title suggests, it tells the story from the Omatikaya warrior Tsu'tey's point of view. Tsu'tey and Jake are rivals for the heart of Neytiri and the trust of the clan, so it's a great place to put the
Fans caught a glimpse of this story in the original movie, but you can only do so much in a few hours, and fans eager to see more are in luck. Hit the next slide to find out more about Avatar: Tsu'tey's Path, returning to Pandora, the future, and more!
Returning To Pandora
Fans have eagerly waited to return to this gorgeous world, and Smith is just as thrilled to explore the relationship between humans, the Na'vi, and this last hope.
"I love that the humans have named the Na'vi world 'Pandora,' referencing the Greek myth about a woman who opens a box that unleashes all the ills of mankind upon the world," Smith said. "The one thing left in the box is Hope. In the world of Avatar, humans are the ones who've unleashed the ills of the world on Earth, and what's left is the dream of Pandora. What they are willing to do to grab onto hope is the stuff of high drama. It's also a great lens through which to reconsider what we do, and have done, to our own planet and people in the real world."
As for Tsu'tey, Smith definitely saw more potential in him than perhaps what was explored in the film.
"When it comes to Tsu'tey… well, I'll try to avoid spoilers for anyone new to the story, but in the original movie he kind of gets the short end of the stick," Smith said. "In traditional Western storytelling, we are so used to the good guy versus bad guy paradigm. Anyone in the hero's way is depicted as a problem, rather than a differing point of view. I like to approach these stories with the question, "What if there are no bad guys?" Why would a character act a certain way if he is essentially well-meaning? It was great to dive into this sort of stoically aggressive character, and find the Hope at the bottom of his box of ills."
Duursema saw the possibilities as well and is happy the character is getting his due.
"Avatar is essentially Jake and Neytiri's story, with Tsu'tey's story is a part of the larger story, much of which is untold," Duursema said. "It's great to see a character like Tsu'tey filled out and to have many of the questions about him answered.
While Tsu'tey's fate won't change because of this story, you will have a new appreciation for the character coming out of the series, as well as Pandora overall.
"This guy has a richer inner life than we've been shown so far, much the way Pandora has a lot more going on beneath the surface than the humans can comprehend," Smith said. "You've got a guy with a lot of weight on his shoulders, he's the heir apparent,
"I think what they'll be able to appreciate is the complexity of Tsu'tey and the previously untold events in his life," Duursema said. "I've approached drawing him as someone who, although emotional, is always trying to hold his emotions in check. He's a great warrior, but he is young and still evolving to be the hero he becomes by following his own path."
From Film To Comics
Avatar was one of the most impressive-looking films when it originally hit theaters, and it can't be easy to translate something like that from the big screen to the page. Luckily Duursema was up to the task.
"The look of the book is all thanks to Jan's gorgeous work," Smith said. "What I can say from a
"The world of Pandora is visually rich," Duursema said. "I love the huge vistas and the glowing jungle foliage. The animals are diverse and feel very solid and real. One thing that's challenging is deciding on what elements to include in each panel to feel like the world without distracting from the events of the story."
So if you haven't seen Avatar, well, we're about to get into spoiler territory, so don't look if you don't want to know.
We good? Good.
So we had to ask about Tsu'tey's eventual fate in the film and what this series will bring to it, and even fans who know Tsu'tey's journey will find new elements of the character to latch onto and perhaps get an idea of who exactly Tsu'tey could have been.
"They say you can't really appreciate how a life has turned out until it's over," Smith said. "What you see at the end of with Tsu'tey isn't so much tragic, as a homecoming. He's one of those rare creatures who achieves his emotional arc early. If he'd lived, I think he'd have eventually become one of the greatest Olo'eyktans in Pandoran history because of what he endures during Avatar. Seeing the story from his side of things will hopefully give readers a satisfying new way to view his life and death."
"I think this story will make Tsu'tey's tragic death even more regrettable for readers, but it will also take the reader into the Na'vi culture and the way they view death and their instinctive, intimate connection with their world.
A Moment To Remember
Fans will see some memorable moments of the film recreated in the new series, and for Smith, there is one that really sticks out.
"Absolutely," Smith said. "The moment when Tsu'tey confronts Jake and Neytiri; "You mated with this woman?!" It's the one moment in the movie where you really hear the pain in his voice. He's not just angry, he's hurt. And that hurt is a doorway into who this guy is beneath the warrior trappings. And you know what they say, the cracks are where the light gets in."
A Few Hints
While this series takes place during the events of the original movie, Smith does hint that there might be some other elements that reflect what the world looks like after the movie, though she isn't spilling the beans just yet.
"This series is sort of priming the pump for what's to come," Smith said. "It's a way of revisiting the original world of Avatar for old
This series is all about Tsu'tey, but there are a few other characters that she would love a crack at down the line if the opportunity arose.
"That's tough," Smith said. "There are so many stories to tell. If we moved back in time, I'd love to tackle young Grace Augustine. She's so flipping cool. Laterally, I'm curious about what's going on back on Earth at the same time as the Na'vi are revolting."
"Science fiction is so often about the future, but we have a history of colonialism here on Earth that repeatedly ends poorly for indigenous peoples," Smith said. "I'd love to take a human with ties to that past in their bloodline, and put them in direct conflict with the Na'vi. Again, if there are no bad guys, what the devil's going on Earthside that makes folks so desperately cruel to Pandorans, even if they know better? Finding the telling images for that would be a challenge, but more than worth the effort!"
You can check out Avatar: Tsu'tey's Path when it hits comic stores on January 16th, 2019.