Drawn to Comics: “Legend of Korra: Turf Wars” Answers Your Korrasami Prayers by Being Really Gay

A lot of us have been looking forward to the Legend of Korra comics we were told about shortly after the show ended. We were told that they’d be written by one of the creators of the show and that excitingly, these comics would explore Korra and Asami’s relationship and show more explicitly that they are gay for each other. That’s exactly what Legend of Korra: Turf Wars Part One does. Not only that, but it picks up literally right where the series ended and in the exact voice of the show. This makes sense as it’s written by Michael Dante DiMartino, one of the co-creators and writers of Legend of Korra. The art — by Asian-American artist Irene Koh, with colors by Vivian Ng — is perfectly dynamic for a comic based on a cartoon, and while it’s definitely in Koh’s style, it retains all the stunning visual style of the show. If you liked the show, you’re going to like this comic.

This book is just straighforwardly gay. Like, capital G Gay. If you were looking for nuance or subtext, this comic is not for you. Literally the first 21 pages are just Korra and Asami being gay and talking about their relationship. Nothing else happens. There’s a bit more plot for the rest of the book, but even mixed in with that are more pages and panels where they’re just doing nothing but talking about being gay or actually being gay. It’s called Legend of Korra: Turf Wars but it might as well be called Legend of Korra: Talking About Gay Stuff.

We pick up as Korra and Asami are enjoying a gaycation in the Spirit World. They kiss, they tell each other when they first realized they were gay for each other, they encounter some spirits. It’s actually really nice to see some drama-free and mostly uneventful interactions between a gay couple, something we so rarely get. When they decide to leave they Spirit World, they also decide to start telling people that they’re a couple. Sometimes this goes better than other times, but we don’t see any straight up homophobia in this book, whichI really like.

Also, don’t worry, there’s plenty of action and bending and intrigue. Apart from the whole gay thing, there’s trouble brewing when a developer wants to build an amusement park around one of the portals to the Spirit World that will actually take tourists on trips there. The Mayor of Republic City has been completely ineffectual and claims that the city’s coffers are empty. As if these political problems weren’t enough, there’s a new gang leader, Tokuga, who starts causing problems not just for Korra, but for the entire city.

It’s really interesting to see how queerness is seen in the world of Avatar. We learn that the Air Benders have always been openly welcome to same-sex relationships, that the Earth Kingdom is perhaps the slowest to adapt to modern sensibilities and other interesting information about the world that we previously didn’t know. Plus, Turf Wars confirms the long-held fan theory that Avatar Kyoshi was bisexual, as well as having another character from the show talk about their queerness. Yeah, this book makes pretty much everyone gay. But joking aside, it is really cool that we learn about other queer people in this universe, as we get to see that it’s a common thing. Korra and Asami aren’t alone, they have a history and a community and that’s both great for representation and accurate to real life.

In part, this seems like the clearest possible answer Michael Dante DiMartino could give to those of us who questioned whether the closing scenes in the animated series Legend of Korra was enough to count as textual queer representation that would help both queer youth see themselves and would be seen by non-queer people who aren’t looking for queer content and possibly putting it in places where it doesn’t actually exist. Here we spend pages, entire scenes, being clear and explicit that they are a couple, that they are in love, that they are gay. It’s really terrific. I’d like to send a huge, huge, huge thank you to DiMartino for this. This is exactly what queer fans have been begging for and wanting from so many different shows for so many years. And now we finally get it.

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Welcome to Drawn to Comics! From diary comics to superheroes, from webcomics to graphic novels – this is where we’ll be taking a look at comics by, featuring and for queer ladies. So whether you love to look at detailed personal accounts of other people’s lives, explore new and creative worlds, or you just love to see hot ladies in spandex, we’ve got something for you.

If you have a comic that you’d like to see me review, you can email me at mey [at] autostraddle [dot] com.


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Mey Valdivia Rude is a bisexual Latina trans woman living in Los Angeles. She's a writer, comic consultant and a trans activist. She's a bruja, a femme, a pop princess and she loves comic books, witches, dinosaurs and crying. She has a cat named Sawyer and a very successful twitter.

Mey has written 500 articles for us.

28 Comments

  1. I’ve never watched Legend of Korra, or Avatar: The Last Airbender, so I doubt I’m ever going to read this comic, but I sort of just want to go into my local comic book store tomorrow and be all “Hi, can I purchase the first 21 pages of Legend of Korra: Turf Wars? Yeah, you can just rip the rest of it out, I don’t need it. Yup, just the first 21 pages, that’s it. Cool.”

    In all seriousness, I’m super happy that this exists for everyone who is a fan of the show. It’s really great when writers follow through on their promises w/r/t queer representation.

  2. I fell in love with Legend of Korra just over a year ago and when I heard that it was going to be made into a comic I deicded to dive into the comic world to prepare myself (I had never even read one before). Now fully prepared I enjoyed the book partially the world building when it came to gay relationships in Avatar world. I really want some prints of the artwork to put up on my wall.

  3. I pre-ordered my copy from a sort of local indie bookstore and it hasn’t arrived yet and I’m gonna die if I don’t get it soon. (Honestly I don’t begrudge them their use of media mail, and it was probably mean and rude of me to pre-order two separate books with different release dates at the same time as I ordered other, already out books.)

    I also ordered a copy as a gift for my brother so I can’t complain to him about how impatient I am because then the surprise will be ruined.

    I hope he’s as ready for twenty-one gay opening pages as I am.

  4. I’m probably going to cry while reading this. I’ve been reading things about it this past week, and feeling so lucky that they actually became a thing… They were/are one of my fave ships, that I was 250% was never going to happen, and it did… I’m sooo grateful to the writers of Korra!

  5. SO happy I pre-ordered this!!! I can’t wait for it to arrive so I can dive right in! I was a bit worried that the comic would have their relationship take a backseat to the conflicts and politics, so I am super pumped to hear that such is not the case. Thank you Mey for reporting on this!

  6. I picked this up last Thursday and have read it at least once a day since. Well, read the gay stuff everyday. So all but like ten pages. I still can’t quite wrap my head around it. But I can hear the character voices in the dialogue, it’s so genuine. I can’t sing this book enough praises. Though I do have one concern: WHERE’S NAGA?

  7. Idk if this counts as a spoiler, but I’m marking it just in case.

    So someone pointed this out on tumblr, with the corresponding pic from the comic:

    “Everything changed when the fire nation attacked”

    As if the destruction of the airbenders wasn’t already heartbreaking enough.

  8. They’re not gay. It’s not a gaycation. They’re not gay for each other. It’s not gay with a capital g. Korra and Asami are canonically bi and it isn’t mentioned even once in the article. I’m sure this is not intentional, but please, please, please stop erasing their bisexuality. It hurts reading a review like this on here, by a bisexual author no less, because this is generally a great space for bi representation.

  9. I’m actually rather disappointed to see that they inserted real world attitudes towards same-sex couples into the avatar universe when those attitudes didn’t exist in the real world nations that the the Fire/Earth/etc nations were based on.

    They could have gone the other way and made Korra and Asami’s relationship a total non issue and made same-sex couples totally accepted which I think would had been a preferable path to take.

  10. I’d been counting down the days for this to come out! As a queer person who grew up with Aang and now gets to follow Korra’s adventures in my adulthood, this was everything I could have wanted and more! (as I assume was the case for many other people as I had to go to three different NYC comic book shops on release day to get a copy because the first two stores were sold out)!

    Everything was so well done, and seeing our beloved bi heroines fall for each other warmed my heart in so many ways! It’s been on my bedside table the last week and I still feel the need to flip through it every night before going to bed <3

    Also, the first Buffy season 11 volume is nearly out already??? I'm still in the middle of season 10, whoopsie, I'm always so behind 😐

  11. More like Bi with a capital B. They’re both canonically bi. In a bi relationship having bi sex and bi talks about their bi relationship.

    I’m seeing the low-key bi erasure on Autostraddle increasing to high key, and I just don’t get it. We’re bi no matter who we’re dating or sexing, and we’re just as queer as everyone else here.

  12. no shade to people discussing the very real problem of bisexual erasure, but uh, just because someone has dated a man and then dates a woman doesn’t make them bisexual. korra and asami’s sexualities are never said outright, so like, they could be gay. please correct me (with citations) if i’m mistaken, but all we know about the two is that they’re dating each other. it’s not unheard of to assume two women dating each other are gay.

    also mey is like the world’s proudest bisexual right now, so i really don’t think she’d be on board for erasing our people. but also, what do i know, right???? 🤷🏾‍♂️

    • i come bearing citations: one of the creators did imply/mention korra and asami to be bisexual, right after the finale happened in december 2014

      http://bryankonietzko.tumblr.com/post/105916338157/korrasami-is-canon-you-can-celebrate-it-embrace

      (if links aren’t allowed here, just google “bryan konietzko korrasami is canon” or something, and it’ll lead you to his tumblr post, confirming that their romantic feelings for each other were indeed canon after the finale, including the phrase “bisexual people are real”)

      it would be slightly unfortunate if their sexualities aren’t discussed out right during the comic (i haven’t had the pleasure of reading them yet), because the article/comment section here proves that people are protective of bisexual representation, and that it understandingly makes it harder for people to be privy to this information, if it’s only meta-confirmed by the creators rather than mentioned in-narrative.

      regardless, just wanted to clear it up 🙂 have a nice day

    • Okay so here’s the thing: every.damn.time someone points out that a character is (probably) bi, someone says “they could be gay, though?”

      Only, I don’t see people saying “they could be bi, though?” every.damn.time someone refers to two women in love/fancies/etc as gay.

      So no. I’m not okay with people saying “they could be gay, though” as a way to excuse referring to every similar-gender relationship and the people in it as gay. Bi isn’t some rare and exceptional thing! Bi+ is every bit as common as gay is! And to automatically jump to the assumption that people in a similar-gender relationship are gay really is bi+ erasure.

      And yes, I know that Mey is bi. But just ’cause we’re bi, doesn’t mean that we are immune from the same kind of mononormativity and bi+ erasure that permeates our entire society.

      • ‘Only, I don’t see people saying “they could be bi, though?” every.damn.time someone refers to two women in love/fancies/etc as gay.’

        I do. Every time there’s a lesbian character, even lesbians who are canonically confirmed as having zero interest in non-women, there’s always someone saying ‘but what if she’s bi??’

        Like, I can see why you’re frustrated, but as a lesbian who has had relationships with men, I don’t think it’s super helpful to erase either side’s experiences here, especially if it involves going after a bi woman.

        • Okay. I get that there’s a lot of erasure of lesbians (and bi women, and ALL women who love women) in the world at large. But in queer spaces like this one? I see bi women being erased all the damn time in a way that lesbian women just aren’t.

          Which doesn’t take for a second from the fact that we’re all erased and delegitimised constantly. But I can’t think of a space where bi women *aren’t*. if you get me?

  13. Also also also Kim & Kim vol. 2 is out, and if you haven’t read the series it’s amazing. The main characters are a trans woman and bisexual women who are queer-platonic life partners, and they go on Fantastic Adventures and try not to fuck up too much in a fantastic and weird and utterly queer universe. It’s perfect and I’m so excited that the series came back.

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