Avatar: the Last Airbender the Rift #1 Review

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Aang and his entourage witness the birth of a new government and resurrect a traditional airbender holiday all in an issue that absolutely nails the tone and characters’ voices from the tv show.

25862AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER THE RIFT #1
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Artist: Gurihiru
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $1.00

 

 

 

 

TRUE TO THE SPIRIT OF THE CARTOON

Gene Luen Yang deserves tons and tons of credit. He not only has the job of writing an amazing story (which he accomplishes in spades), but he has the incredible responsibility of living up to the stories, characters and mythology of one of the most popular animated shows of the modern era. The reprinted Avatar: the Last Airbender The Rift #1 reads, in every aspect, like an episode of the original Nickelodeon show.

As with an episode of the tv show we drop into a scene with all the characters (save Zuko, who is textually excused for his absence), in the middle of the introduction of an interim coalition government made up of representatives from both the Fire and the Earth nations. The scene presents a fascinating look at the world of Avatar as the bending nations come together once more and handily provides a reason for Sokka, Katara, Aang and Toph to all be together in the same place.

Avatar: the Last Airbender the Rift #1 moves swiftly to its event catalyst. On his way to a banquet Aang has an interaction with the spirit of avatar Yangchen (the last airbender to take on the role before him), though he cannot hear the words she speaks. A search for clarity send Aang and his entourage – courtesy of Appa – on a physical journey (to mirror the classic hero’s journey literary archetype), to the ruins of an ancient airbender hallowed ground in order for Aang to reconnect with Yangchen’s spirit.

As readers/viewers have come to expect, Avatar: the Last Airbender the Rift #1 has snappy dialogue (especially from Sokka and Toph who provide the majority of sarcasm and comic relief throughout this volume), and the real moments of emotional resonance. There are several nice scenes between Aang and Katara, who are a little older now and a little further into their romantic relationship, at the point where readers drop into Avatar: the Last Airbender the Rift #1. Yang is smart to focus on this aspect – fan favourite ideas that Nickelodeon was never able to flush out on the show – another theme throughout Avatar: the Last Airbender the Rift #1 is Toph and the Beifong Metalbending Academy. It’s mostly hearsay and conjecture, but nonetheless very engaging.

Yang’s a great writer who is obviously a fan of the material and presents the reader with a chance to step back into an episode of Avatar’s original universe full of familiar character and hijinx.

MORE HOMAGE

As with Yang, artistic studios Gurihiru’s success in Avatar: the Last Airbender the Rift #1 largely ties into their ability to mock up the style from the Avatar: the Last Airbender television show. In all aspects Gurihiru’s work succeeds. Aang looks like Aang (though perhaps slightly older), Toph looks like Toph (again, slightly older), and the world they inhabit, even cities readers aren’t overly familiar with, visually fit into the status quo.

The colouring, to harp on a theme, fits the same mold as the writing and the linework, and when viewed through that lens, the artwork of Avatar: the Last Airbender #1 is nothing short of perfect.

 

READ UP ON BENDING

Avartar: the Last Airbender the Rift #1 is a comic issue that absolutely deserves the reprint it has been granted. It is fun, tonally accurate and nothing about either the characters or the world feel anarchronistic. If you are a fans of either Nickelodeon shows this issue is a great potential addition to your headcanon and could easily be read and enjoyed by readers of any age or gender. Read Avatar: the Last Airbender the Rift #1 while you can still snap it up for $1.00.