Avatar The Last Airbender The Search Part 2 Review

The Search Part 2
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Listed as: Avatar Comics

Airspeed Prime here with the next Avatar comic review. Out of nowhere Ibooks have released The Search Part 2 early a full week ahead of the July 10th comic store release date. So I will put out my written review today, but the video review and podcast will be after the official release.

Again as I always do, I will emphasise how important this book and other Avatar comics are to the future of Avatar. These deserve the support as they will be out only other way of getting store outside of shows and shows cannot go on indefinitely. If you can, buy a copy of this book.

The review will be split into a non spoiler review and a spoiler review, so do not read the spoiler part if you care about spoilers.

Avatar The Last Airbender The Search Part 2

 

The Search Part 2

Written by: Gene 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

 

I will begin with the non spoiler section of the review.  Overall I really enjoyed this part, it did exactly what a part 2 needs to do, continue on what was set up in part 1 and also prepare things for the finale in Part 3. It was a much better part 2 than The Promise Part 2, as that book had a whole other plot that did not play into the main story (Toph and Sokka). While it was good, it took time away from giving the main story and characters more depth. The Search does something similar with new characters and mysteries, but manages to perfectly link them into the overall plot and enhance it. If I had any negative it would be that it did not advance things as much as I thought it would, but with a lot of focus on flashbacks and some new additions I think it ended in a nice place that Part 3 can pick up from.

21 of the 72 pages are Ursa flashbacks. The flashbacks here catch up to the show and expand upon some scenes and we even get some scenes post Ursa leaving. What I like about the flashbacks here is that we get some additional focus on Ursa’s relationship with Azula, it is subtle for the most part, but hints at a better relationship than we have seen before.  I should also mention that the flashbacks again also give Ozai some spotlight, which show he he deals with the information about Ikem. Including Ozai hiring a known, but unexpected character to take him out. The flashbacks are very emotional as you see the family being to fall apart, we also get some amazing continuity moments that explain certain lines and reactions from the show. I will just say that what happened to Azulon and why Ursa had to leave and all of that is explained and I was happy with the reveal, it may have been obvious to some, but  the real mystery is “Where is she now?”. We see that she goes in search of Ikem in Hira’ and obviously because we know he left, comes up short which is where the flashbacks end.

The royal family dynamic has always fascinated me and this did not let me down, the interaction between a younger Zuko and Azula is great as is Ursa and Ozai’s scenes where they deal with the Ikem reveal. We got some tender moments and some dramatic moments as well as some big reveals.

Moving on to the present day stuff. Azula once again is a stand-out in this book. Her fragile mental state comes up time and time again, and you begin to feel more and more sorry for her, but her violent outbursts nearly make you not fell for her. Again Zuko tries to have a better relationship with his sister and there appears to be a breakthrough, but it is not quite there yet. There are also hints that she is in some ways liking life in a group, but I think she is hiding these under her usual calculating and cruel exterior. Where exactly the creative team are taking Azula is still up in the air, the key is finding her mother and having a heart to heart. I am really enjoying the unpredictability of Azula, it is not an obvious redemption story or that she will remain evil and serving her father, Team Avatar are having a little influence.

Zuko’s story apart from his interactions with Ursa mainly focus on his reaction to the letter suggesting Ozai is not his father. His reaction is interesting, he feels hope and in a way understands a lot of his past now. Aang plays a role here to help his friend through this reveal. Again it is the middle part of the book so a lot is left in the air, but it is nice set-up, though I do wish it had been covered in more depth here.

Aang, Katara and Sokka play smaller roles, Sokka as usual adds a lot of humour and in a slight ironic twist lectures Azula about not hurting nature, he has clearly learned from The Swamp. Katara is the main one who really argues with Azula and is eager to contain her, definitely referencing her battle with Azula from the ATLA finale. There is also an interesting scene where Aang and Katara are talking to a married couple who married later on in life and you get the sense the two are almost considering getting married very soon, they are awkward when it comes up, but the woman sees how good Aang and Katara are together. Some subtle Kataang, which is always appreciated.

Aang as I mentioned plays a role in other characters stories, but mainly his story revolves around his connection to the faces that the Spirit creatures have. I love pretty much everything spiritual in Avatar so this whole section in the Forgetful Valley was right up my street. A lot of information is revealed about why the creatures have face patterns along with why the valley is a spiritual place, not to mention the big last page reveal of a new spirit.

The writing, in my opinion is improving with each book. What really stood out to me in this book was the way Gene Yang dealt with some of the more intricate continuity moments, including, as I mentioned the inclusion of a minor character from the show out of nowhere and adding to the flashback scenes from the show. Sure you could perhaps criticise the writing of Sokka as only being a comic relief character, but this story is not focused on him, it makes sense for him to be there to protect his sister and help keep Azula in check, but I don’t feel he needs to have a big story arc, that would take away from the focus on Azula and Zuko. Not every character included needs to have a detailed character arc, they can just be there because it makes sense.

One of the big things that stood out to me in the writing in this book was, like part 1, how well the newly introduced non show characters were done. I cannot really defend Toph’s students too much from The Promise as they were underdeveloped, but here we are introduced to a few new character and all of them are interesting and really feel like characters that the show would have introduced.

The art, what can I say about the art that has not been said already, I am pretty sure the one thing the fandom agrees on with regards to the comic is that Team Gurihiru are amazing. I was shocked to see that….they are getting better. Some facial expressions in this book really caught my eye, especially on younger Azula and Zuko. Their art is just so clear, clean and most of all extremely consistent. With the Forgetful Valley they had the opportunity to really express themselves and they went to town on it, the environment itself looks stunning and the creatures with their face patterns are so eye catching. The final page is breathtaking.

Overall this is an exceptional comic, it of course suffers a bit from being the middle part, but it is still very strong. It introduces new things and further explores the established stuff. Most of all, this series had so much to live up to, the story we have been waiting years for. It has not let me down, it has dealt with the story we have been waiting for while also linking it into new and unexpected things. I highly recommend this comic.

WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD

Now onto the spoiler review.

Because this is a part 2 there is nothing along the lines of the ending to Part 1 in terms of a huge spoiler, but there are some nice reveals nonetheless.

The details of Azulon’s death. The first part of the mystery of Ursa, what was her involvement in his death ? It is answered here. Simply put, to save Zuko’s life she offers Ozai a way to get the throne an untraceable poison that will kill Azulon in such a way it will look like he passed away in his sleep (major points to the clever use of her mother being a herbalist to explain this). He agrees if she will leave the capital, the reason he gives is that now he knows she can poison anyone he doesn’t want her near him in case it happens to him. She wants to take Azula and Zuko with her which is huge in terms of her relationship with Azula. She is forced to agree to the kids staying and leaves, but not before first visiting Azula in bed and giving her a kiss on the cheek and then visiting Zuko as we see in the show. I loved this explanation as it makes complete sense, I never felt that Ursa had to be the one to kill Azulon, so I was happy either way. The expansion to the show scene with her visiting Azula is perfect, as much as Ursa was concerned with how Azula was turning out she still loved her daughter enough to want to take her with her and kiss her goodbye.

Vachir backstory……yes you did read that correctly, Rough Rhino member Vachir AKA The Archer one gets a backstory. While we do not get his childhood we do get explained why he has the Yu Yan archer tattoo, but is not with them. Here we see what happened. Ozai hired him to kill Ikem and after months of searching he came back unable to find him, Ozai then removed him from the Yu Yan archers under Colonel Shinu’s command. This came out of nowhere, but I loved it. I always enjoy these moments where a character you know pops up in an unexpected place in the past. It makes sense and adds to the character. Vachir backstory, I am still struggling to believe it. What next ?

I suppose next is two new characters introduced in this book. Misu and Rafa, two northern water tribe siblings. Misu is a waterbender while Rafa is never said to be a bender or not.  We get a short, but detailed backstory on why the two are in the Forgetful Valley. In short she followed the rules while he broke them, he used to prove himself by stealing from powerful people in their tribe. Then one day his luck ran out and his face was horribly disfigured in an accident, no one could heal him so Misu researched all she could for some way to help Rafa ultimately coming across a story about the Forgetful Valley and a spirit who gives people new faces. It is also explained that Rafa does not eat and is caught between life and death, I found this explanation a bit weird, now I will say how he was injured was not explained so it could have been something spiritual to cause such an unusual affliction. They have been trying for years to find the spirit who appears at a certain spirit pool in the valley every so often, they have always been at the wrong pool. That is basically where their story ends, but I was very impressed at their introduction, a nice backstory and an emotional quest, a clever way of giving our heroes a lot of exposition about the valley. I am very interested to see how they are used in Part 3, especially given the final page.

Speaking of that final page, to help the two Aang enters the Spirit World in an effort to get the Spirit Wolf to drink at the pool they are at so that the spirit will appear to them. Aang finds the wolf, but it brings him to another pool where he meets the spirit who calls herself The Mother Of Faces. She has an amazing design and the whole final page is gorgeous, she is surrounded by loads of floating faces. The obvious connection is to Koh The Face Stealer, could the implication be that Koh is perhaps her son (or the father of faces), the mother in her name would suggest that.  At this stage it is just speculation, but the two have opposite powers, Koh takes faces while The Mother gives people new faces. I think the book heavily suggests that Ikem now has a changed face hence how he evaded Vachir. Or what could either be completely obvious or crazy silly, Misu and Rafa are Ursa and Ikem, 2 characters we know came into the forest, but don’t know where they are now.

There are a few other spoilers also, but I don’t want to completely spoil the whole book.

A podcast review of the book will be coming not this Sunday, but next Sunday after the book comes out in comic stores.

 

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My name is Morgan Bannon, I am a 22 Year old Male from Ireland and I am the Site Super Moderator. I have watched and been a fan of Avatar since it premiered. I am also a news post writer for the site and host the site's podcast, The Avatar Online Podcast. My strength as an Avatar fan would be just a good knowledge of Avatar Canon and characters.

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Comments - 32 Posts

  1. Avatar of Troy
    Troy Said: Comment by Troy on July 3, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink
     

    The Search part two is my favorite comic of world so far because of how extra terrestrial it is and spirit world. I dislike how it constently compares nice Zuko to mean Azula. That is clearly for ratings and I find it distasteful, it’s right just a big pill put in wrong. I do love the search more than the promise so far.

    Reply

    Avatar of avataraang

    avataraang Reply:

    Ikr the search part 2 is my favorite comic also ( sighs) , I wish I was reading it right now :D

    Reply

  2. Avatar of Joey
    Joey Said: Comment by Joey on July 3, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink
     

    I agree, the writing is improving alongside the art.

    Reply

  3. Avatar of Avatar Yangchen
    Avatar Yangchen Said: Comment by Avatar Yangchen on July 3, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Permalink
     

    this comic seems like it will be awesome (just like all of avatar) i cant wait to read it :D

    @airspeed, where did you read the search part 2?

    Reply

    Avatar of Jadely

    Jadely Reply:

    Ibooks released The Search Part 2 early a full week ahead of the original date July 10th.

    Reply

    Avatar of Avatar Yangchen

    Avatar Yangchen Reply:

    i know, i was just having trouble finding it. but i found it though :) but i wasnt able to download the full version (couldnt pay $7.99) but the sample they give is the first 15 pages of the comic.

    Reply

    Avatar of Jadely

    Jadely Reply:

    Oh, I see. :)
    That’s good you found It.
    I think I am going to see if I could download the app on my phone :)

  4. Avatar of Jadely
    Jadely Said: Comment by Jadely on July 3, 2013 at 10:47 pm | Permalink
     

    Wow nice review I enjoyed reading it.
    MUST RESIST urge to read the spolier part of the review until July 10th.

    Reply

    Avatar of Avatar Yangchen

    Avatar Yangchen Reply:

    yeah, me too :P last time i tried not to read the spoilers but i couldnt help myself

    Reply

    Avatar of Jadely

    Jadely Reply:

    Haha the same thing happened to me as well like when I read that Zuko had the possibly of not being Ozai’s son. I just couldnt control my self :P

    Reply

    Lola Reply:

    You can read it on REMOVED. A user named REMOVED has uploaded a video of the full comic

    Airspeed Prime Moderator Note/ Sorry as per the rules of the site no links or suggestions about places to read or watch Avatar Content illegally is allowed. Links are allowed to places where you can legally do it. We do this so that the site does not get in trouble with Nick/Viacom and also because we fully support the comics, and allowing links and suggestions about where to watch it for free takes away from the sales of the comics and can impact the possibility of more coming.

    Reply

  5. Inkasrain Said: Comment by Inkasrain on July 4, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink
     

    I thought Misu and Rafa’s backstory was sort of random, but the implication that he was brutally attacked and left to die was terrifying. (Northern Water Tribe, man.)

    I also think it’s genius that Zuko’s reaction to the letter is one of relief. I never would have predicted it, but it makes perfect sense, especially after the events of The Promise and the unrest stirring in the FCBD story.

    Overall, I’m really impressed with The Search so far. The Promise was fine, but this story has a sense of depth and atmosphere that really takes the story to another level.

    Reply

    Avatar of Shiney

    Shiney Reply:

    Misu and Rafa was kind of unexpected, I agree, but I suppose they will play some role in the next book. Or maybe they were just there to explain about the Mother of Faces? I don’t know – I’m actually strangely intrigued by them, more than I usually am by minor characters. I’d personally like to hear more of their story.

    I agree, Zuko’s reaction being one of hopeful relief makes sense. The Search clearly showed us that being Fire Lord is not solely fun nor easy.

    Reply

    Avatar of Airspeed Prime

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    As I mentioned in my review Misu and Rafa really showed that the comics can create characters that are just as good as the minor characters fro the show. They have really stepped it up from The Promise, the students while interesting felt underdeveloped and not on the same level as the show minor characters. Their introduction had the same feel of Hama, not in terms of it being a waterbender, but the importance and ambiance created around them, when they arrive they are important.
    “I’d personally like to hear more of their story”
    I say this about pretty much every minor character in Korra and ATLA, not so much with the students, but Misu and Rafa made me say it again.

    Reply

    Avatar of Shiney

    Shiney Reply:

    Toph’s students felt a bit more childish in my opinion (which I think is fine, my complaint is more that they took too much attention), but some of the other minor characters from The Promise I liked more.

    But I like these characters better. I don’t know, perhaps I’m just a sucker for character with an interesting backstory like these siblings had.

    As for our other new characters, Noren and his wife, they might turn out not to be new minor characters, but actually Ikem and Ursa with altered faces, according to some fandom speculation. I’d like that, especially because, while I don’t think Ikem is Zuko’s father, I would like for Ursa to have at least one child with a man she actually loves.

    And the backstory for Vachir was totally unexpected. I didn’t even remember who he was at first! It’s great continuity!

  6. Avatar of lugacuda is a kataanger :)
    lugacuda is a kataanger :) Said: Comment by lugacuda is a kataanger :) on July 4, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink
     

    THEY… ARE… GONNA GET MARRIED SOOOONN?!??! AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! IMMA CRY!!! ok…ok… calm down… awwwwwwwwwwww!! FINALLY!! I’ve been waiting too much… i can’t breathe 8D =D :D yaaaay!! feeling soooo happy ^.^

    Reply

    Avatar of Airspeed Prime

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    Well I wouldn’t say for sure that that is what it means, but at the very least the scene showed that the two have at a young age found the person they want to be with all their lives.
    I would say the earliest they would marry would be in 2 years when Aang is 16 and Katara 18. Just speculation at this stage.

    Reply

    Avatar of lugacuda is a kataanger :)

    lugacuda is a kataanger :) Reply:

    well… yeah, but at least they already have kind of an idea of when they could get married, that’s what is getting me so excited!! but isn’t Aang 114 right now?? xD just kidding well, what can I tell you,they are both pretty wise u.u

    Reply

    Avatar of Shiney

    Shiney Reply:

    Yeah, but Aang IS almost 16 at this point, is he not? Maybe not quite 15 yet, but it’s getting there.
    To be honest, if there’s more comics after The Search, I wouldn’t be surprised if it has a Kataang marriage (depending on the main plot and how far in the future it’s set). Both with this and The Promise they are kind of hinting at it.

    Reply

    Avatar of Airspeed Prime

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    Well we assume he is 13 or close to it by the end of ATLA, The Promise skips to a year later making him at most 14 and a half. So yes he is quickly approaching 16, we know that in the NWT girls have arranged marriages at 16 I would assume it roughly applies to the SWT, but is it just the girl or would Aang have to be 16 too.

    At the very least I expect the two to be engaged fairly soon.

    I do wonder how the two cultures would affect a marriage. Aang I assume because he has accepted his attachments has no problem with going against Air Nomad philosophy and marrying. I am interested in seeing how much focus they give their relationship going forward.

    Avatar of Shiney

    Shiney Reply:

    I’m actually quite surprised at how much attention the Search has given Aang and Katara. Basically all other relationships – Sokka/Katara, Azula/Zuko, Azula/everyone else, Zuko/Sokka and Zuko/Aang – even the ones between original characters – that is in focus is very relevant to the story and the overall theme of family and insight into the dynamic of the royal Fire Nation family.

    Yet, they leave time for several Kataang moments in each book. And this is the second time marriage is brought up in the comics.

    So yeah, I do think we can expect marriage – at the very least engagement – rather soon. It seems like they are going for that. Assuming there’s going to be more comics, obviously.

    Avatar of Water-Tribe Heart

    Water-Tribe Heart Reply:

    katara and aang married now? no, katara knew she loved aang and aang knew it all along, at the end of ALTA.
    they have been dating for how many years now? 3?
    sadly i havent read any of The Search books but i cant wait to see what acutally happeneds. (:

    Avatar of Airspeed Prime

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    They get together at the end of ATLA, but have the months before together also.
    As boyfriend and girlfriend they are together about A year and a bit, including all of ATLA nearly 2 years at least 1 and a half.

    Avatar of Shiney

    Shiney Reply:

    I think the point is not so much “they now want to get married”, (because strictly talking, Aang was all “yay marriage” in The Fortunteller :-P), as it’s interesting that the comics keep bringing it up very explicitly.

    The point is, we can probably assume that they are planning to get Kataang married or at least engaged very soon, because the characters are talking about marriage – not just the fact that they love each other. :-)

    Avatar of lugacuda is a kataanger :)

    lugacuda is a kataanger :) Reply:

    hahahahahaha… “yay marriage” xDDD that made me laugh!! ooohh… look!! I made a long reply chain!! xDD

  7. Avatar of lugacuda is a kataanger :)
    lugacuda is a kataanger :) Said: Comment by lugacuda is a kataanger :) on July 4, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink
     

    well… yeah, but at least they already have kind of an idea of when they could get married, that’s what is getting me so excited!! :D but isn’t Aang 114 right now?? xD just kidding :) well, what can I tell you,they are both pretty wise u.u

    Reply

  8. Avatar of lugacuda is a kataanger :)
    lugacuda is a kataanger :) Said: Comment by lugacuda is a kataanger :) on July 4, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink
     

    oops… just forget what i wrote and mind they reply thingy gray, squared box :D

    Reply

  9. Avatar of YangChen
    YangChen Said: Comment by YangChen on July 6, 2013 at 6:18 am | Permalink
     

    I made my self only read one paragraph of the spoilers :D…. I really hope Aang and Katara get married in the comics and we get to see how they interact with and parent their children

    Reply

  10. Sri Said: Comment by Sri on July 9, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink
     

    Did someone notice that Kunyo from the Promise Part 2 gets a brief but significant note in one of the flashbacks. He was Zuko & Azula’s firebending master and Ozai had him sent to the colonies because he wasn’t good enough. Real Subtle…the writing’s definitely improving with each new comic.

    And the artwork is superb but it’s … actually getting even better! Check out the facial expressions, it’s now even better than the anime itself. And check out the night scene of Ozai standing before a grilled window, look at the perfection on the shadows!

    Oh and it looks like Azula just shot someone with lightning yet again! It seems like Zuko was too late this time…perhaps that’s how she’s threatening to derail everything.

    Hey airspeed, I am seriously thinking Rafa actually lost his face to Koh (punishment?) — he wears a face mask and can’t see, speak, eat, talk or do anything and there were bandages across his eyes, ears, nose and mouth. This was probably what led them to find this spirit. Perhaps he survives by some kind of spiritual power or the mercy of the spirits — hence between life and death.

    And it seems that some kind of danger is in store for Azula…she doesn’t seem to be hallucinating — seeing spirits in reflective bodies is a well known spiritual phenomena. Ursa’s warnings are getting increasingly stronger. That and what we saw in the Promise suggests that perhaps Ursa has indeed become a spirit somehow.

    Reply

    Avatar of Airspeed Prime

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    Yes that Kunyo reference was great, it was either that or the Vachir reference that I was going to mention in the review to show off off how well Gene Yang is at referencing things.

    Rafa losing his face to Koh would make sense, what other way could he be physically active, but caught between life and death. The use of the word disfigured would be evidence against it and not his face was gone, but who knows yet.

    Azula is definitely one of the big things to be explored in Part 3, what are they going for with her arc in this book. Beyond the need to confront her mother, I am not really sure where she is going. Are the visions just the good side of Azula trying to break through or is it more linked into Ursa’s fate.

    Personally I am now leaning towards the theory that Noren and Noriko are actually Ikem and Ursa with new faces thanks to the Mother Of Faces. Noren lies to Zuko and co about seeing Ursa again, yet in the flashbacks he is eager to talk with her. Add to that the marriage being just 5 years old and a very young child and it has a lot of weight.

    Reply

    Sri Reply:

    Practically everyone seems to be thinking that one now. However on tvtropes there is an additional guess that the price of having a new face is to lose all past memories of one’s former life — which is probably why it’s called forgetful valley and why Zuko and Azula were never recognized by Noriko (assuming she is indeed Ursa). Or were they? Why is Noriko lying? I hope these get fitting answers in Part 3

    To me it’s personally looking like the lives of all the characters in the Search is beginning to mirror the events in “Love of Dragons”. There’s definitely a greater symbolic connection becoming apparent from its lines. But we do know now what inspired Zuko’s blue spirit mask.

    I’m trying to consider the probability that in the end everyone will be restored back to their original selves just as in the final scene of the play, not to mention what will be Azula’s final fate — I mean Gene Yang was asking whether it was even possible for her to end well. Looking at the last few pages, you don’t get to see who yelled “No” or who got hit by the lightning, but whatever happened sounded ugly…

    Reply

  11. j fox Said: Comment by j fox on July 16, 2013 at 6:20 am | Permalink
     

    im pretty sure the actor/director and his wife are zukko’s mom and her estranged bf. They were given new faces and through this forgot their pasts in some way. Perhaps that is why when the director saw zukko’s mom and was shocked, maybe in the back of his mind he knew who she was?

    Reply

 

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