Today, February 11th 2015 is the release date for The Rift Library or Hardcover Edition. I managed to pick the book up this morning and am ready to review.

The Rift Library Edition


Written By – Gene Luen Yang Art and Colours By – Team Gurihiru Collection Designer – Brennan Thome I have already reviewed the story of The Rift with the 3 individual parts. So I will quickly get through my thoughts on the story. Overall I would say that The Rift is the best written of the 3 comic series we have so far, while The Search deals with a more important subject matter (Zuko's mom, Ursa), it had the bonus of being super focused on Zuko and Ursa and not much else. The Rift has more of the same format as The Promise, but executed better. It has a lot going on in terms of plot. Aang and Toph are at odds over whether to stick to traditions or just leave them behind and advance, this links into Toph's individual plot of dealing with the issues with her father as well as the fascinating spiritual issue of the spirits relationship with humans. There are also some smaller plots like Sokka and Katara encountering 2 girls from their tribe working at the factory and the introduction of a new character, Satoru, who is the nephew of one of the co-owners of the factory and Toph's love interest in the story. The main thing with this series that I loved is that it really embraced what has come before, with some clever references to previous comics and ATLA also. The return of Toph's Metalbending students are a great example of this, they were interesting new characters, but they were very light on character, they get fleshed out more here and now really feel like a part of the universe now. The spirit stuff is my favourite aspect of this series. I love how it links into most of the other plots and how it adds gravitas to the series overall. The spirit characters and backstory explored are excellent and in my opinion the best spirit stuff we have got in Avatar after "Beginnings". So overall, I was really impressed by The Rift. Toph gets a lot of important character development in this series, it really works as a way to complete her incomplete arc from the show. Now onto the book itself. It has the exact same format as the previous 2 Hardcovers: The 3 individual parts collected together in one book with  slightly bigger art, annotations on select pages from the creative team and some concept art at the back. This format makes for a great deluxe edition of The Rift Series. Like all of the big Dark Horse Avatar Books, it is super high quality and looks great as part of a collection. Seeing this book on my shelf in addition to the other 2 library editions and the 4 Art books looks great, 7 big, high quality Avatar books. [caption id="attachment_9466" align="aligncenter" width="600"]IMG_0524 Back cover[/caption] I am a big fan of the new cover for this book, it gets across the key plots in the book. Aang and Toph are the main characters and General Old Iron is the main point of conflict and this conflict revolves around the factory shown in the background. The back cover highlights the brighter aspects of the book, with the statue of Lady Tienhai and the important Cranefish, key to the spiritual plot of the book. They have really nailed the covers for these collections. The spine design remains the same as the previous 2 books, which has been a problem with the individual part's spines changing. I really appreciate the consistency, as it really makes them look great stacked next to each other on a shelf. [caption id="attachment_9468" align="aligncenter" width="600"]IMG_0525 2 pages of the concept art[/caption] Inside things are the same as ever, the individual parts are present with slightly bigger art and the big borders to fit the annotations. The parts are separated by clean versions of  the covers for the part, which is a nice touch. As for the extras at the back you get 12 pages of concept art (Same as both previous books), you get the design process for all of the covers and a few pages, but most importantly concept art for the new characters introduced in this book like Lady Tienhai, General Old Iron and Satoru. I would like more concept art, and would even accept losing the annotations to fit it in. Speaking of the annotations, they have gone backwards rather than forwards with them. I have been critical of them in past reviews because of how few pages they actually appear on, it really feels like they put little to no effort into them in this book. Not only are there even less pages with them than the previous books, but none of them are particularly insightful, they are very much pointing out the obvious and not really going in-depth and behind the scenes. Let me get into the numbers to further show this point. [caption id="attachment_9467" align="aligncenter" width="600"]IMG_0526 One of the rare, legendary annotation pages.[/caption] The Promise Hardcover had annotations on 58 pages, The Search Hardcover had them on 51 pages, but The Rift Hardcover only has annotations on 36 pages. 36 of 216 pages with annotations. I really have to question at this stage why they continue to do them over having the actual comic pages fill the whole page. The big problem so few annotations makes is that there are way too many pages with giant borders there for absolutely no reason, it is particularly bad in this book because it has even less annotations than ever before, 83% of the pages have no annotations. The other question to counter this is how big is the art originally, can they fill the whole page in this book without it affecting the quality of the art. I was shocked to see how little the annotations were used in this book, I expected more annotations rather than less. The other problem as I mentioned is the quality of the annotations, only a couple of the annotations are more than a sentence and could be classed as "in-depth" as the back of the book describes the annotations. Final thing to mention about the annotations is that Mike Dimartino is not included in this book after writing some for The Search Hardcover. Final Thoughts If you have not read The Rift yet, then this is THE way to experience this story, get this book and not the individual books. Especially if you are a collector of Avatar merchandise, this is a gorgeous book to add to your collection. If you already have the 3 parts, and are not massively interested in the extras then this book may not be worth picking up unless you are a collector. For me, this book was worth the $39.99 price tag despite already having the individual parts, I just love big, impressive books like this and as a big Avatar Merch collector I am glad to have this in my collection, especially since we really don't get that much Avatar merch. Don't rush out to get this book at full price, try and find a good price online, I would assume  that it will be available for just a bit over $30 dollars online, though the mass market release will not be until February 24th. The story is great and the art from Team Gurihiru is stunning as ever. This is a story that every Avatar fans need to read! My video review of the book