Avatar: Adapt or Die #1 gives us a pretty graceful prologue to the 2009 film. You know, because it’s full of Dr. Grace Augustine? Get it? I’ll just continue with the actual review now.

Avatar: Adapt or Die #1 ~ Details

"Avatar: Adapt or Die #1" cover art by Mark Molchan.
The prologue for Grace we never expected, but now we need. Cover artist: Mark Molchan.

Avatar: Adapt or Die #1 is a new sci-fi comic book series starring Dr. Grace Augustine, and serving as a prologue to the 2009 Avatar film by James Cameron (soon to have a sequel). Corinna Bechko (Star Wars: Legacy, Angel, Lara Croft and the Frozen Omen) is the writer, with Beni R. Lobel as the artist. Michael Heisler is the letterer, while Wes Dzioba is the colorist. The sole cover art above is the work of Mark Molchan. Lastly, Dark Horse Comics is the publisher of this comic book series.

Avatar: Adapt or Die #1 will go on sale on May 11, 2022 for a retail price of $3.99. You can preorder it directly from Dark Horse Comics, whether in print or digital form.

Warning: spoilers for Avatar: Adapt or Die #1 below. If you want to read the start Dr. Grace Augustine’s prologue for yourself, then stop here, and come back once the Na’vi parents have told their kids to come home from their first field trip to Hell’s Gate. Also, in case it wasn’t obvious: spoilers for the Avatar film.

Avatar: Adapt or Die #1 ~ Plot Summary

"Avatar: Adapt or Die #1" preview page 1.
Okay, seriously, how is that Pandoran “butterfly” flying with its 4 wings in that arrangement?

Avatar: Adapt or Die #1 starts us off with Dr. Grace Augustine in her Na’vi avatar body, where she’s hanging out with the local Na’vi near their village, and is clearly interested in learning more about their ways. Likewise, she’s just as interested in teaching the Na’vi about the ways of the humans. She even gets Mo’at, the Na’vi matriarch, to agree to send some kids to Hell’s Gate as a field trip to learn more about the humans as part of a cultural exchange.

After Grace leaves though, Mo’at and clan leader Eytukan have a heated argument about that exchange. Eytukan has misgivings about the humans (as he should based on the film), but Mo’at is more optimistic about it, albeit cautiously so. The kids, including a young Neytiri, are all for this field trip, as kids would naturally want to be when given the opportunity to explore a brand new place. This optimism convinces Eytukan to look past his misgivings and allow the field trip to happen.

Field Trip to Hell’s Gate (and the Consequences Thereof)

"Avatar: Adapt or Die #1" preview page 2.
If only the other humans were like Grace.

The field trip to Hell’s Gate actually goes relatively well at first. The kids get to meet some humans in the flesh, learn basketball, explore Hell’s Gate, and play monkey gym with the buildings and equipment. The mood turns somber though when they come across the destruction caused by one of the human excavation vehicles. Even the assurances that the destruction isn’t permanent by Grace (symbolized by new plant life growing in the wake of the vehicle’s path of destruction) literally are squashed by an irate manager (none other than Parker Selfridge himself), who forces Grace to call off the field trip early due to scheduling. It seems stopping work for even a single day to educate some local alien kids is too expensive for these corporatists.

That and that destruction only sours Mo’at’s opinion of the humans. To make matters worse, the kids develop a mysterious illness after their field trip. Complete with fever, loss of appetite, and collapse into unconsciousness. An enraged Eytukan believes that the humans poisoned the kids, but did they really? Well, I suppose that’s what we’ll find out in Avatar: Adapt or Die #2.

Avatar: Adapt or Die #1 ~ The Good

"Avatar: Adapt or Die #1" preview page 3.
Ah yes, maybe you should’ve explained your title and name better, Graceaugustine.

The art of Avatar: Adapt or Die #1 is, without question, the best thing about it. Beni R. Lobel did a fantastic job with the artwork of this comic book. The backgrounds are as luscious and as gorgeous as you’d expect Pandora to be, filled with lush greenery and fanciful yet realistic-looking alien plant life. The Na’vi are just as gorgeously detailed, complete with the little bioluminescent dots on their skin they have in the film. Even when we get to Hell’s Gate, the base is just as gorgeous, albeit in a more brutalist kind of way. You can clearly see a stylistic and symbolic difference between the jungles of Pandora and the artificial environment of Hell’s Gate.

Indeed, Parker Selfridge best embodies this symbolism by stomping on the first new bit of plant life that grew in the wake of the destruction of the excavation machine. More through carelessness than from actual malice, but that merely adds more to the symbolism, not less. The symbolism seems in-your-face, but it also feels appropriate given what we see the humans do in the film. Someone who would squash a helpless plant in his pursuit for money would just as willingly squash a seemingly helpless native alien tribe for the same reason.

Seeing Dr. Grace Augustine again (you know, before her death) is a very nice touch. Especially since she’s such a popular character. Getting a comic book prequel of her is an even better touch.

Avatar: Adapt or Die #1 ~ The Bad

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Come on, random RDA soldier. Don’t be the bad guy here.

My one and only complaint about Avatar: Adapt or Die #1 is that the story seems a bit on the simplistic side. It seems fairly easy to predict: Earth germ crosses species barrier to infect Na’vi kids. Grace has to find a cure before it wipes out the Na’Vi, and presumably Col. Quaritch will deliberately impede her because he believes a plague would wipe out the Na’vi and thus eliminate them as a threat. This is obviously not what happens because Neytiri is clearly alive in the 2009 film, but this could be one way to explain why Grace hates Quaritch so much.

Of course, I could be wrong about this plot prediction. It might not turn out this way, and that’s what excites me. Not only that, but even this somewhat easy to predict plot is still more complex than the actual Avatar film. So this isn’t even a big minus for me. Not enough to get below 100, in my opinion.

Source: Dark Horse Comics