23 Aug / Avatar: The Last Airbender | The Search (Parts Two and Three) created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, script by Gene Luen Yang, art by Gurihiru, lettering by Michael Heisler
Okay, for the latest full Avatar experience, might I suggest you do a bit of catch-up homework first: To find out what prompts this eponymous ‘search,’ you’ll need to read the three-part Promise which reveals why family relationships matters so much, especially to Aang and Zuko; then you should pick up Search Part One to catch up with the gang’s quest to find Zuko and Azula’s long-missing mother, Ursa. A moment of gratitude is also in order that 2006 National Book Award finalist Gene Luen Yang continues to script these all-new Avatar adventures. Whoooo hooooo indeed!
Part Two finds the Fire siblings once again testing their rivalry, until Zuko warns Azula, “Look, we can spend the rest of the day – the rest of our lives – fighting each other, but it won’t get us any closer to mother.” Cooperative for the time being, brother and sister, together with Aang, Katara, and Sokka, arrive in Ursa’s native village, Hira’a, where they meet Noren and Noriko of the Hira’a Acting Troupe. Although the devoted couple can’t seem to offer any detailed information about Ursa, Noriko mentions that Ursa’s first love Ikem was thought to have run off to the Forgetful Valley when Ursa left to become Ozai’s wife. Warned that it’s “a dark, dangerous place [from which] no one who enters ever returns,” Zuko nevertheless determinedly announces, “We’re going to Forgetful Valley.” What the Fire Lord commands, the Fire Lord gets.
In Part Three, Aang calls forth the Mother of Faces “who walks through the Forest once a season, and “grant[s] one favor to one human.” But the one human in line for that next favor has already been waiting far too long, and Aang justly tells Zuko, “I’m sorry … we’ll keep looking for Ursa on our own.” Of course, brash Azula has a different plan, and her greed and anger set in motion a race for the truth.
Once again, Yang leads his creative team through epic feats, not to mention including an inspired nod or two toward age-old fairy tales (Snow White with a twist) and swashbuckling myths (royal siblings-in-rivalry Zeus vs. Poseidon or Athena vs. Ares). Zuko’s personal search, not only for his beloved mother but his very identity, results in more questions than answers … which proves to actually be a very good thing, because surely that means more Avatar escapades to come!
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult