At long last The Rift Part 3 is here. Today is the comic store release date for the book, with November 18th being the release date elsewhere.

The Rift Part 3

The Rift Part 3 Cover Written By: Gene Luen Yang Art and Colours by: Team Gurihiru (Art and inks by Sasaki with Colours by Kawano) Letters By: Michael Heisler Published By: Dark Horse Comics As usual I will split my review into a spoiler and non-spoiler section, starting with the non-spoiler stuff and finishing with my spoiler thoughts below a warning. So there is something here for you regardless of your views on spoilers. So at last we arrive at the final part of The Rift Trilogy. I was excited, but also very worried about this book as there was so much stuff set up in Parts 1 and 2 for this book to resolve, I was worried that key aspects would not get the time they deserved. Thankfully I had no reason to worry as The Rift Part is is a satisfying and strong conclusion to what in my mind is the best trilogy of Avatar comics so far, yes for me this does beat The Search. The reason I say that it because The Search was extremely focused on just a few things and it did them well, but it did mean that some of the other characters not as important to the plot felt superfluous, with The Rift I think we a comic that had a lot of different story and character threads and managed to balance all of them pretty well, making for a book packed with interesting events. With this series I really feel that Avatar Comics have now shown that they can tell stories just as interesting as the show, without having to be based around an unresolved plot point from the show. Minus Toph and her father most of the stuff here has been introduced in the comics alone and we even get some references to past comics. What really stood out to me with this book is that I really reacted to a lot of the big moments in a big way. There have been a few moments here and there in previous comics where I have had a big reaction on the level of a big reveal in the show, but I really felt like this book had many of these moments. One in particular, I thought was a MASSIVE moment, that I just did not expect at all and really floored me. It is hugely positive going forward that these comics are making me react more and more in the way I would usually react to an episode. This book more than any so far have made me truly believe that this creative team of Gene Yang and Team Gurihiru  truly understand the Avatar universe. While Korra is coming to an end this year, the comics will be continuing and I for one am delighted that we have a creative team putting out content that is on a similar level to the animation.


Now lets get into some story details. While I think many came into this series excited to see Toph's story with her father, what for me has been a welcome surprise is the spiritual plot with Yangchen, General Old Iron and Lady Tienhai. Now that I have finished the series, I think the highlight of the series and definitely this final part is how the spiritual plot of "Can humans and spirits live together?" is explored here. It is a theme that has been explored in Book 2 Spirits with Wan and Korra, but it was only touched upon very lightly in ATLA with episodes like "Winter Solstice Part 1 The Spirit World" We know from part two that the jist of the situation is that General Old  Iron hates humans for being responsible for killing Lady Tienhai and only the intervention of Avatar Yangchen and her making a deal with him stopped him destroying many humans. In this book we learn what really happened to Lady Tienhai, the full details of the agreement Yangchen made with Old Iron and a lot about both spirit's opinion on humanity. It is no spoiler to say that Aang does fight Old Iron and the fight is awesome with Aang controlling a golem of earth with him in the Avatar state at the head, but what I found to be even more interesting was the dialogue as the two fought. Aang trying to reason with Old Iron while Old Iron cannot see past the fact that in his mind humans killed Tienhai and thus all they do is destroy and dominate. You really see a lot of emotion from Old Iron, and this is something The Search also presented, that the spirit are not so all knowing and wise as we think, they look down on humans for their emotions and various traits when they too have them also. The Mother Of Faces doesn't know how to deal with her son Koh, yet acts as if she is above Ursa's issues. Here General Old Iron consumed by anger makes out like he is completely correct, no one can convince him that humans are not bad. I won't spoil the remainder of the fight here as it is one of the best parts of the book, but it left me shocked. The revelation of the story of what happened to Lady Tienhai does change your perspective on things a lot, again what actually happened really took me by surprise. The idea that these two spirits who are friends can have such opposing views on humanity is fascinating. The agreement also plays into the conflict between Aang and Toph. The main part of the agreement was that no human settlements be build on the land around the statue of Lady Tienhai, hence why the Refinery is such a big problem. What happens is that Aang initially tries to stop Old Iron returning by destroying the refinery and returning the land to the state it was before it was there, but Toph is against this as she sees it as Aang just being a slave to traditions and the past and that the refinery should stay because it is the future. This leads to Aang and Toph actually fighting against each other!!! Obviously we know the two remain friends, but how this comes about is pretty interesting, it is not that either one is completely right or wrong, rather they needed to find a common ground in the middle of their views. Toph needed to learn to respect some tradition and not just ignore the past, while Aang needed to stop clinging on so hard to the exact details of these past events and rather try to adapt them to the current day. There is no big talking scene between the two where they see each other's side, instead in the heat of battle they come together to take on a greater enemy and at the end you see a festival happening, but not the super traditional Yangchen festival instead a new festival that is a mix of tradition and modern styles. It works as a nice way to show the compromise between the two, without the need of a long back and forth between the two talking about what they learned. Toph and Lao's issues are mainly resolved in the preview which everyone has seen, but throughout the rest of the book we see that the two are more open with each other, while there are no big scenes of them talking after the preview, you can see that they understand each other now and they have opened communication up again. The Key moment between the two is that after exerting herself so much to keep the cave from collapsing she herself collapses once they are freed and Lao is very overprotective of her. When she regains consciousness she wants to jump straight back into the battle, but Lao just says he needs to remain safe, she says she is needed and doesn't need to be safe and then instead of what he would usually do and shut her down and stop her from jumping into action he agrees and apologises for treating her as being so fragile. Such a simple scene, but it does so much given the issues of their relationship. With regards to Katara and Sokka dealing with Nutha and Niyok. It perhaps does not get the huge focus or massive reveal many perhaps hoped for, but it is nicely resolved. It is short, but what happens does make sense.


Final thing I really want to mention in the non spoiler section is the return of Toph's Metalbending students: Ho-Tun, Penga and The Dark One. Introduced in The Promise I found them to be reasonably interesting if a bit one note, I didn't hate them, but I didn't love them. Here I think they are utilised much better, Aang actually says something to them in this book that I had never thought of before, that these 3 are the most powerful metalbenders in the world minus Toph. They arrive to try and get Toph and the others out of the collapse because only metalbenders can remove the rubble, they initially lack confidence, but when Aang points that out to them hey show how powerful they are even impressing Toph. You really do see the pride that Toph has in her first 3 students and that they are very strong. I would really like to see where the 3 eventually go as characters as I still feel they need to stand out more as individuals rather than a group of 3. They do do some important things in this book and they have definitely become more interesting to me as characters with this book. Art is as usual from Gurihuru, amazing. I don't think anything else needs to be said, except that they do the spirit stuff exceptionally well. Overall I think this is an excellent book. Some of the spirit stuff towards the end is extremely thought provoking and really adds an extra layer to the human-spirit dynamic, seeing Aang deal with this issue is so interesting. The book does wrap up all of the key plot points set up, though it doesn't really set up a new series. It has strong character arcs, themes and fights, I think this book is definitely worth your 11 dollars. You can really see how much the writing has improved since The Promise here, it really does show.


From here on the review is just me discussing the big events and reveals in the book, if you do not want them spoiled stop reading. I think the main thing to say about spoilers in this book is that most of the character stuff in the book minus the spirits is not too spoilery. There are no huge events that would ruin the reading experience for you with the Toph-Aang, Toph-Lao or Katara and the water tribes girls plots. Most of the big things involve the spirits. -First up Aang to finally be able to speak to YangChen again decides to Talk to Roku for the first time since The Promise. There is no argument here, just Aang and Roku happy to see each other again. The main jist of the reunion is that Roku understands Aang's decisions as he can only advise Aang based on his own life experiences, he did that, but it was just his own take on it, Aang just needs to find a balance between taking advice from the past and the present. It was nice to see that ultimately the issue between the two is that Roku's advice did come from a different era and based on different experiences, Roku tried to hard to make Aang make the same decision he would while Aang perhaps just needed to make his own decision and not just remove communication with Roku. The Promise was very much about making your own decisions and sticking to them, this arc of Aang separating from Roku worked for me. I think Aang did need time away from Roku to make decisions on his own, but them coming back together now makes sense. -Now it is time for all of that spirit stuff. So yeah, Aang kills General Old Iron! Are you shocked, because I was! To be fair that is a spoiler completely lacking in context, as I outlined above Old Iron would not listen to Aang's attempts to reason and find a peaceful solution. There was never going to be a Yangchen solution this time, Old Iron becomes completely enraged and tries to kill all humans around him Aang fights him in the Avatar state using the earth golem, but he cannot win as the spirit's armour is made of Iron. This is where Toph and her students come into play, together they help Aang by metalbending his armour off leaving Aang the chance to take him out. Aang knows in the Avatar State that he could kill Old Iron, but naturally does not want to. What happens is that Old Iron sees the metalbenders ripping his armour off and goes to kill them and to protect Toph Aang is forced to strike a powerful blow against Old Iron with his armour off. The blow is fatal, but before he dies he states that he was right all along about humans they just dominate and destory, the Avatar despite being the bridge will always fight for humans as he is one and he says that there will always be a rift between humans and spirits, the spirits no longer have a place in the world. Aang takes this completely to heart as he has just killed a spirit to defend humans, as an Air Nomad he has had to kill something. You completely understand why he did it, it was a battle and he defend his friends, but for Aang worse than the battle is dealing with what he has done. After this he begins to believe Old Iron is right about spirits and begins to believe that perhaps Toph's view on things is correct, somethings are just relics and should be left in teh past. Katara does help him to realise that they all in the present have the power to connect the past and future. That if Aang as the bridge between humans and spirits has a place in the future so do humans and so do spirits. As he sits down to meditate on this a bunch of cranes land beside him, the same ones present at the statue in Part 1. They are revealed to actually be spirit cranes and they all merge into Lady Lienhai who explains to Aang what happened to her. This backstory is amazing by the way. As explained in Part 2 she was the guardian of this area, but she began to find it stagnant and unchanging. This changed when the humans came and built their towns there. she then began to take a human form once a year and experience this wonderful town as a human, one time she met a young prince, the man who said he was reponsible for her death in part 2 and was amazed by his energy and abilty to create things. They fell in love and she took on her human form permanently despite knowing it would mean she would die like a human, the two married and lived happily together, until she did eventually die. Her husband blamed himself as he felt like he had seduced her to maintain her human form despite Tienhai making the decision herself. She then explains that spirits don't die, but instead take on new forms, hence why she now takes the form of spirit cranes. She also explains that Old Iron was wrong about humanity, their nature is not to dominate, but create, and despite some errors humanity does learn from the mistakes of the past and one day they will build a world where things can be protected and preserved. She convinces Aang that spirits do have a place in the world as long as humans build one for them. I love this concept, that spirits themselves are unable to create things really, that humanity has a trait over spirits, the ability to invent and create things. That many spirits are potentially attracted to the physical world because it changes so much unlike the spirit world, that just preserving the same place endlessly is just stagnant and that creativity interests them. It really creates this idea that the reason republic city was the place where a balance was found was because it is the place where so much new stuff is created. It also tells Aang that he didn't truly kill Old Iron, but killed that form of him and it may allow his new form to change for the better something the old version was unable to do, unable to get past his hatred of humans. It is a really cool set up for what happens in book 2 spirits and eventually in Book 4. -Final thing to mention, Cabbage Merchant set up. He is only in a couple of panels, but we do get set up for Cabbage Corp here. When he sees Satoru and Sokka fly by on a forklife his eyes go wide and you can clearly see his interest in this machine. Later on he is seen asking Satoru about the forklift. Possibly setting up the idea that he creates a company and has Satoru as the head engineer. That is the end of the review, the book did not have a preview for what the next series is, no cover or date. So we will have to wait for an official announcement. Video Review -