In 2013, Dark Horse Comics released three installments of “The Search” featuring characters from the Avatar: The Last Airbender television show and taking place shortly after “The Promise” story arc which was released in 2012 and directly began right where the TV series ended. “The Search” tells the story of Firelord Zuko and his hunt for his mother who disappeared during his childhood. Along the way, he and Team Avatar encounter old foes, new ones, and we are given the answer to what did actually happen that night long ago when Ursa left. We are also given information as to events that have occurred since then. There is quite a bit that occurs within these pages and the reader gets what you would want in an Avatar story. We get action, adventure, political intrigue, and even a surprise or two in the form of some of the characters within the story as well as Zuko's possible father that might not just be the Firelord (cue dramatic music). It all leads us to good excitement and it did well as part two of the three part series actually made #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. Not too shabby I would say. This special Library edition is a hardcover and it does have quite a few extras that are pretty nice.
Overall, this is a decent story that rings true to the spirit of the Avatar adventures. I am a big fan of The Last Airbender show as well as The Legend of Korra. I rarely turn the channel if I see that either show is on. I think I have seen every episode of both shows like a thousand times. You could say that I am a fan. I also have read “The Promise” as well and enjoyed it. “The Search” was right up my alley, so it was quite fun reading it and returning to characters that I know so well and love.
Having said that, I did enjoy the story mostly. The writing and story itself is good. Gene Luen Yang allows the words to flow smoothly through most of this extensive tome of a tale. It is about 220 + pages. There are some parts however that I felt to be a little irritating. Not totally bad stuff mind you, but just irritating. It might be because I am a fan. I'm not sure, but there were some areas that rubbed me the wrong way.
#1: “The letter”. This was a major plot point that could have been an atomic bomb of a reveal. We do get a reveal, but I found it way to basic. There should have been more.
#2: Where's Toph? OK, I understand adding another character might have been too much, but I don't think it would have hurt too much either. Writing her off like some soap opera (she is focusing on her metal bending school) was kind of lame.
And finally #3: Azula. Azula is one if the more intriguing characters in the whole Avatar universe. She is written and drawn just totally crazy. I know she had a breakdown, so technically she is a little out of it. But man, she was written and drawn kind of wild eye crazy. There is the potential for Ms. A to be back to her formidable self though. We shall see.
These points are nothing more than a fanboy's desire for more. The writing other than these minor things is really well done and I give very high marks to it. With the art, I can really find nothing wrong. The Gurihiru studio drew the characters’ look as they should be and everything looks superb. As the book progresses however, and we enter the Spirit World portion of things, the art turns it up an additional notch. It really rocks. I also found the additional sketches added to this edition time be quite nice. It is a fine addition to this hard cover trade.
Overall, “The Search” is a pleasing continuum to the Avatar mythology that is a “must have” for fans and a “should have” for casual readers. It is well written and an entertaining read in its trade format. It is well worth the investment of $39.99.
Writer: Gene Luen Yang Artist: Gurihiru Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $39.99 Release date: 2/5/14