Your phone went off on Friday. You either patiently waited until you got off work to stay up all Friday night watching, stealthily watched at work, or spent the weekend bingewatching. No judgment here, it’s all good. At any rate, you’re done with Korra’s story and want more. So, here’re your options. Everything past the official licensed comics is recommended to an adult audience, although I suppose Pyre is appropriate for teens.
1) There are comics from Dark Horse. Yes, they are a direct sequel to the comics and were written by one of the series creators, so they are canon. Additionally, the art is utterly stellar, between Irene Koh’s work on Turf Wars and Michelle Wong on Ruins of the Empire. The hardcore comics fans may know the latter from the (legitimately unsettling horror series warning) Tomboy.
image via amazon
2) In hard R-rating options, there’s Monstress, which has five Eisners. I heard it pitched as Berserk by women, but I think it hits closer to Song of Fire and Ice, as it’s heavier on world-building than the former. In short, Maika is a rather pissed-off type of antihero. She just got her freedom back, there’s a frequently-hungry abomination possessing her, and there’s a lot of childhood trauma here. Thus, she starts trying to make her way in a world that is likely to descend into a war soon, while everyone is attempting to make her their pawn. Said world and its inhabitants are gorgeously (and periodically horrifyingly) realized by Sana Takeda, who actually won Best Painter/Multimedia Artist and Best Cover Artist Eisners in 2018 for her work on the series!
Image via sana takeda’s official site
3) For another fantasy story that has something reminiscent of the Avatar system through the Antari mages, there’s V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic franchise. Instead of countries, this series features three versions of one London that only the aforementioned Antari mages can move between. Similarly to Korra, Kell isn’t particularly interested in acting as a high-powered diplomat-slash-occasional-hero (and some of the first book’s events were indirectly set off by the smuggling hobby he uses as an escape from it). The second book features a magic tournament, and the third book has sequel-typical spoilers in the summary.
Image via barnesandnoble.com
4) There’s also N. K. Jemisin’s The City We Became, which makes New York’s boroughs its protagonists, but is readable even if you’ve never been there. In short, some residents are turned into their respective boroughs’ avatars and it’s up to them to join forces to stop the tentacled horror that feels reminiscent of Lovecraft. However, the repeat Hugo winner has repeatedly discussed the racism and xenophobia that permeates his work and minces no words in speaking out against such things in NYC. In short, this is one of the most memorable and timely recent fantasy releases.
image via hachette book group site
Some games for a reading break:
- I am not recommending Platinum Games’ Korra game, as it’s unfortunately not one of their good licensed games (although one of their most critically-acclaimed games, Nier Automata, technically was outsourced to them). Instead, there’s an indie game that hits some of the similar notes, featuring a magical sport and plenty of fantasy politics. It also has a memorable, complicated cast. It’s called Pyre, and you’re in charge of a group of exiles that must win a magic sports tournament to return from the wasteland that is Downside. Despite the elevator pitch, it’s surprisingly hopeful! At any rate, it’s one of the most unique games I’ve ever played, and it could run on my previous (non-gaming) laptop. If your specs sheet looks like my “Intel Core i7-6500U 2-Core/Intel HD Graphics 520/8 gigs RAM on Win10 Home”, you will have to use the windowed mode/low graphics settings and still experience lots of buffering, but you will be able to get to the credits. I’ll explain how you can tell if your computer can run it later.
Image via supergiantgames.com
2. Dishonored series is the much darker option here. In the first game, you’re Corvo, the empress’ ex-bodyguard who is forced to go on the run after getting framed for her murder. Additionally, you have to save Emily, empress’ ten-year-old daughter. Then, of course, there’s the Outsider, who saves you from the execution and grants you magic but otherwise just watches from the sidelines. In the sequel that takes place fifteen years later, you can choose to play as Emily. My playthrough was with her, as the storyline is about the murders of her critics and fending off her aunt’s attempted coup. And yes, the Outsider was once again around to provide powers and commentary. At any rate, this series is known for its unique art direction, reflecting on whether you choose to use violence via minor and major changes in characters and locations, and a fascinating setting. The first game is playable on the setup I’ve previously mentioned, although you won’t run it on any fancy graphical settings. I outsourced the second game to my PS4, especially after hearing how dodgy the Windows version was from friends with good tech. Thankfully, the technical issues have apparently been fixed since then, though.
image via sergey kolesov’s artstation
Quick note to anyone exploring the Windows gaming option:
Your computer should have hardware info in the “About” section of settings, easily findable via the Cortana search button in Win10. Once there, write the “Processor/Graphics/RAM” down somewhere easily-accessible (like your phone’s notes app). You can then use the info on one of those system requirements testing sites. My preferred is game-debate.com, which gives you an accurate-in-my-experience pass/fail result after you select your components from dropdown lists. There is also an option to download a one-time use applet that scans your hardware info but downloading outside files like that is inadvisable. Side note, but Steam/Epic Games Store both host seasonal sales, which are when I typically do my shopping. Y’know, have a budget, have a wishlist in hand, stick to said budget.
At any rate, there’s no problem with using the console version instead of the computer one (and I’m at a 50/25/25 split between Windows/PS4/Switch right now). So, like, pick whichever is more comfortable to you.
Now, go forth and fill that void in your heart.