You know, it never fails to amaze me. If I am flipping the dial watching TV and come across Avatar: The Last Airbender, I can't help myself but to stop and watch. I think I have seen every episode of every book so many times that I pretty much have entire dialogs memorized. ("Choose Treachery...It's more fun"). I almost feel like Team Avatar is a part of my very being sometimes. Yeah, I would say that I am a fan. I don't think I am going to be getting any arrow tattoos anytime soon, but I feel like I have a knowledge and expectation of these characters. Creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko have set the bar way high by their own doing in anything having to do with our arrowheaded young man and his ragtag bunch of friends. Luckily for them their creation has continued to blossom wonderfully in its comic book continuations utilizing the twin sword sharp writing chops of Gene Luen Yang to carry things home. He has written some winners in The Promise, The Search, and now part two of his three-part trade paperback, The Rift.
What I really have liked in The Rift thus far is that we have only seen in small glimpses of how things are starting to churn forward to a future that is depicted within the current television rendering of The Legend of Korra. We are starting to get a feel for tradition vs. modernization, benders vs. non benders, and mystical power vs. industrialization that runs rampant within the new series. Things are changing here and Team Avatar is stuck right smack dab in the middle of it. The only thing is that they don't necessarily agree with each other in how to resolve the issues at hand.
Things are getting tense and not just with the team itself. Toph has some serious relationship issues going on, while Aang is trying to figure out how old tradition and modern today can work in harmony with one another. Katara and Sokka are given task to look in the eye of a very real and modern issue. And even The fire bending group known as the Rough Rhinos have to deal with how to scrape out a living in a world where the Fire Nation no longer needs their harsh brand of services. It is an intriguing story to say the least, eloquently written, but likewise spaced between elements of light-hearted comedy and tender moments too. In short, The Rift-Part 2 has all the elements of one of the better television episodes placed within a nearly three comic long issue.
Like using Gene Luen Yang for the writing, using Gurihiru for the artwork has been a wise decision. They depict the characters in their most familiar likenesses, but they continue to add new dimensions and even some age to the drawings that is beginning to show that these kids are really starting to grow up. They are maturing and the art shows it as well as the story that is beginning to depict this bold new world as a place that is slowly starting to lose its old traditions and entering into new territory where money will eventually become the great power over all.
With this part, Aang gains some great insight into many of the happenings that are going on and some pretty serious peril awaits many characters once Part 3 begins. The fuses have been lit and are beginning their move forward to what promises to be an excellent conclusion. And oh yeah, the Cabbage Man is back people. He is back and ready for some green rolled action.
Writer: Gene Luen Yang Artist: Gurihiru Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $10.99 Release date: 7/2/14 Format: OGN, Print/Digital