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‘Avatar: The Last Airbender—The Rift Part 2’ – Advance TPB Review

It seems to me that the newest craze in comics is turning current animated series into comic books. The medium allows creators, writers, and artists to explore the worlds and characters further without certain network restrictions, and while I’ve picked up and read a lot of these cartoon comics, the Avatar: The Last Airbender comic series is definitely hitting the mark on how these comics should be utilized.

The Rift is the third arc in the ongoing series of the Avatar The Last Airbender trades that is being published by Dark Horse, and unlike its more recent cartoon comics counterparts, this series expands upon the world and characters within a show that is no longer on the air. This is me nudging all of you to check out the Avatar: The Last Airbender animation series, because, unfortunately, this series of comics takes place after the animation finale, and it banks on its readers having previous knowledge and connection with the main cast. That being said, reading the A:TLA comic series as a long-time fan of the show is a treat. Readers get a chance to follow Team Avatar once again as they team up with Aang to help benders and non-benders alike to keep the peace and restore balance, as well as getting answers and insight to questions that they might have had during the show’s initial run on Nickelodeon.

The Rift has been my favorite arc so far, simply because it focuses on my favorite member of Team Avatar: the blind Earthbending master and inventor of metal bending Toph Beifong. When Part 1 left off, Avatar Aang was hoping to celebrate an important Airbender tradition called the Yangchen Festival with Katara, Sokka, and Toph, as well as a new group of ‘Air Acolytes;' however, a city has developed on the once sacred ground, and many bending and non-bending citizens make their living at a newly established refinery.

Part 2 picks readers back up from the moment Toph came face to face with her estranged father. While he pretends to not recognize her and even continues to claim that she is not his child, Toph attempts to make him see her for who she really is: not the prim and proper, sheltered princess he wanted but the confident, fierce, and innovative bender she has always been. Meanwhile, Sokka and Katara discover a secret iron ore refinery beneath the main Earthen Fire crystal mine, and they realize the mysterious source of the earthquakes are the result of a faulty foundation and unstable support beams. If the mine collapses, everyone inside will perish. Is this the end for some key members of Team Avatar? Will Toph reconnect with her father? The Rift Part 2 leaves us with some burning questions.

Gene Luen Yang’s script for The Rift reads as if it was written by the show creators themselves. His style stays true to the humor and individuality of the characters and gives readers a feel of never having left the GAang. Gurihiru’s art style is absolutely perfect for continuing the adventures of Team Avatar. His clean, expressive style translates this once action-heavy animation seamlessly and beautifully into a still medium.

Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Rift Part 2 is everything an A:TLA comic should be: a fun, action-packed ride that doesn’t skimp on the character development. I, for one, can’t wait for the conclusion in Part 3.

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