North and South Library Edition Review
Another year another Library Edition, this time it is the North and South Library Edition which of course collects Part 1, 2 and 3 of North and South into a big Hardcover book with annotations and extras. This one has a little bit more to it because it is the last book release for the creative team of Gene Yang and Team Gurihiru before things switch over to Faith Erin Hicks and Peter Wartman.
As usual there is not a lot to say about these editions, I have reviewed the story content before and all of that applies exactly the same to the Library Edition, so the review here is really about the annotations and extras.
The quality of these books as ever is great, this is a very well put together hardcover, the front cover and back cover really stand out and the print quality is great.
Which brings us to the extras. The usual page and cover concept art is always fun to see, even if it is not the most standout content. We get a small amount of focus on the cold weather redesigns for this series, but the key extras are the annotations and special to this book, a page each for Gene Yang and Team Gurihiru to say their farewells to Avatar fans.
I was very happy to see these pages included, that they knew well in advance that North and South was their final series and gave them each a page to say what they wanted. Team Gurihuru's page is a quick note of goodbye over their final piece of official Avatar art, a lovely piece of art featuring Aang, Katara, Sokka, Toph, Zuko and Azula. It is a piece of art that represents their art style so well, how clean it is, how much character and expression is present in each their portrayals of each character. Gene Yang's page is a few paragraphs where he expresses how thankful he is for being able to write in such an amazing fictional universe, he thanks the key people at Dark Horse, Nick as well as the fans and so on, it is a great farewell to such a great creative team.
And finally we get to the annotations. I have been hugely critical of these in basically every Library Edition and it is basically the same story here again. The annotations are not on enough pages to justify the book leaving space for them and then when they are present they often do not offer any notable insight. This book features annotations on 65 of the 216 story pages (The Promise was 58/216, The Search 51/216, The Rift 36/216, Smoke and Shadow 60/216). While I do feel there is overall not much to the annotations, they usually feature 1 or 2 interesting notes. This time the main takeaways are that the creative team knew fairly early on into work on North and South that it would be their last series and because of that it in a way shaped some aspects of the story like most of Team Avatar being involved by the end of North and South. The impression I got was that if this was not their final series it may have not featured Toph and Zuko. My main takeaway from this and also Team Gurihiru's final piece of art was the lack of Suki, fans have been critical of the lack of focus on her of late so it is weird to see key people involved with creating new content seemingly ignoring her when talking about Team Avatar and the main characters. Looks like it is time for #whereissuki to see some action again.
The book is out now in comic stores, November 7th is the release date elsewhere.
If you want a more visual look at the book check out my video review here