Sunday, January 09, 2022

Avatar's Prince Zuko Discovered on Decades Old 'Magic The Gathering' Card

Avatar: The Last Airbender's Zuko bears a striking resemblance to a Magic the Gathering card from 1994, leading to speculation about his origins.

Avatar: The Last Airbender's Prince Zuko bears a striking resemblance to an old Magic: the Gathering card from 1994, it's been discovered!

Avatar: The Last Airbender, created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, remains one of the most popular Western animated series, achieving critical acclaim over its 3-year run on Nickelodeon and landing a Netflix deal for a new live-action series as well as new projects under Nickelodeon's Avatar Studios banner. The story follows Aang, the reincarnated "Avatar" whose duty is to maintain harmony among the four great nations - and his friends as they fight back against the tyrannical Fire Nation.

One beloved aspect of the show is the complex character development, particularly Zuko's (voiced by Dante Basco in the original series). He begins as the dishonored Fire Nation prince, tasked with capturing the Avatar and bringing him back to his father, the Fire Lord Ozai (Mark Hamill). Before long, he becomes one of Aang's closest friends and mentors as the group races to defeat Ozai and end the war between nations. Zuko's unforeseen redemption is one of the pivotal moments that leads to Aang finally learning firebending and being able to master the four elements.

Reddit user pand0vian may have discovered Zuko's design influence on an old Magic: the Gathering card titled "Nameless Race" while simply browsing old cards. The artwork features two shirtless individuals standing back-to-back with flowing topknots and either a scar or paint in the shape of a flame over their right eye. They appear coiled into a martial arts pose, ready to fight. Quinton Hoover drew the figures for Magic: The Gathering's 1994 expansion, "The Dark."

While the figure on the "Nameless Race" card bears a remarkable similarity to prince Zuko, the comparison appears to be a coincidence. According to DiMartino in the artbook Avatar: The Last Airbender (The Art of the Animated Series), Konietzko originally designed Zuko as a "scary-looking kid with a scar over one eye" to act as a young villain opposite Aang. Despite the resemblance, Zuko sports a full head of head in later seasons and eventually becomes the Fire Lord himself, brandishing an entirely new look.

With over 20,000 cards created since its inception, Magic: the Gathering boasts an incredible assortment of artwork, and it can be easy to find comparisons among other works of fiction. "Nameless Race" is a mostly forgotten relic, despite being a part of one of Magic the Gathering's most celebrated older sets released only one year after the massively popular trading card game's creation. Avatar: The Last Airbender was released more than 10 years later, and Zuko's character design is not uncommon given the Fire Nation's Southeast Asian design influence. It's unlikely that creators DiMartino and Konietzko plagiarized Hoover's design. What will be interesting to see is how Zukos's live-action counterpart, Dallas Liu, will look in the Netflix series when it comes out sometime in the next year or two.

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Original source: ScreenRant.

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