The Gaang is back in action, this time in comic form. They’re a little older, a little wiser, but still the optimistic, kind-hearted badasses we remember from the show. The Rift maintains the spirit and storytelling of the show, introduces new characters, and further develops our old favorites. Part 3 of The Rift opens with Katara, Toph, and others trapped underground in a mine. Toph is single-handedly keeping the mine of collapsing entirely, but her metalbending students are the ones to help those trapped escape. In the rescue process, they uncover a giant metal mask- a piece of giant armor belonging to Old Iron, who is now an awakened, angry spirit- and also a giant. This finding and subsequent awakening create serious tension between Aang and Toph. Toph’s fighting for the future, while Aang is fighting to preserve and protect the spirits of the past. Ultimately, as the Avatar, Aang has to find a balance between past and present, between preservation and growth.
Part 3 is entertaining and familiar, provided you are a fan of the show. While it isn’t hard for non-viewers to follow along with the comic, I doubt they would be very engaged. The reader must already be familiar with the politics of the show, the history of Ba Sing Se, the significance of the Avatar and his connection with the spirit world. These are all discussed superficially in this comic, enough for a reader to know the basics and follow along; but a fan of the show would appreciate it more.
This reads like a two-part episode; it follows a typical television format, and the storytelling doesn’t stray from what we’re accustomed to with this show. It works for this comic, but it works best if you’ve been following the story and the characters in other formats, namely the original TV show. And even as a fan of the show, I wouldn’t reread this in a hurry. While it was a well-told and mildly entertaining story, it was not very engaging or memorable.
If you’ve already been reading the Last Airbender comics, then go ahead and stick with it. It’s entertaining, and it’s fun being back with the Gaang.
Writer: Gene Luen Yang Artist: Gurihiru Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $10.99 Release Date: 11/5/14 Format: OGN; Print/Digital