The Rift Part Two is some clever writing on Gene Yuen Lang’s part. Some parts of his ecological treatise seemed presented a little obviously in Part One, forgivably so as it was just the set-up. While it seemed the presence of a dangerous refinery on a formerly sacred site was the major element of the plot, Yang also worked in the idea of some traditions perhaps no longer being relevant in the face of current needs, this evocatively via the always irascible Toph. She was thrown a complete curveball at the end, beautifully set up by Yang in passing while he reinforced Toph’s attitudes early in the story.

What surprises about Part Two is how Yang has a place for Yangchen, the Avatar of a hundred years previously, who only seemed a method of getting Aang and his party to the refinery. We learn about her encounter with a spirit early in her Avatar career, and it has a direct bearing on present day events.

It would take a curmudgeon of immense proportions to dislike Gurihiru’s art, the combination of Naoko Kawano and Chifuyu Sasaki again supplying page after page of clear cartooning and solid personality definition. A great strength of Yang’s plots for the series how they define the regular cast, and it’s difficult to imagine anyone depicting this with the correct lightness of touch better than Gurihiru. They also switch moods beautifully, and styles if something different is needed, such as a trip back to an ancient myth.

As he’s done before, Yang neatly brings all the elements of his plot together, and sets up a fine cliffhanger ending to take us into Part Three. Alternatively, just buy The Rift as one complete hardcover edition.