25 Jul / Avatar: The Last Airbender | The Rift (Part Two) created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, script by Gene Luen Yang, art by Gurihiru, lettering by Michael Heisler
Just to be totally up front, we have four months of waiting for Part Three. Just saying (and sighing). Until then, in case you need to flash back, here’s a look at Part One, which landed Avatar Aang and his motley entourage at what should have been the holy site of the Yangchen Festival, a hundred years overdue.
Alas, Part Two doesn’t exactly open with the anticipated commemoration. Instead, on the very first page, metalbending buddy Toph is suddenly, shockingly, face-to-face with her long estranged father. At the refinery-that-shouldn’t-be, Daddy is better known as “Boss man Lao,” a man supposedly without family, not to mention he seems to be rather lacking in basic honesty and morality. He’s not much good at cooperating, or being welcoming, either.
In the midst of trying to stop the environmental destruction, Aang still intends to re-establish the neglected Yangchen ceremony. Surrounded by his three Air acolytes, he sends his spirit to commune with his predecessors. Meanwhile, Sokka and Katara go underground, while Toph trespasses through hallowed halls in search of answers.
Sword-swishing, fire-throwing, ground-breaking, time-traveling fiction this may be, Gene Luen Yang – a 2006 and 2013 National Book Award finalist – imaginatively knows how to make his story both contemporary and timeless. Beyond the immediate environmental concerns, family bonds, filial duties, and gender-based limitations all get challenged here. The struggle to create a peaceful brave new world is a neverending mission, a legacy that each new generation (alas!) seems to inherit. With millennia worth of practice, at least for Aang, surely the odds must be in his favor sooner than later. Here’s hoping … !
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult