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Comic Book: Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Rift

The third trilogy of Interquel comics between Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. This trilogy shifts focus back to Aang and the foundations of Republic City, as well as Toph, who was absent from the previous trilogy.

After the Yu Dao situation is finally brought under control, Aang receives visions of Yangchen, who tries to talk to him but is mysteriously inaudible. However, her appearance does remind Aang that it's time for the Air Nomad holiday held in her honor, and he takes Katara, Sokka, Toph, and the Air Acolytes to celebrate it for the first time in a hundred years. Unfortunately, the island where the celebration used to be held is now the site of a joint Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom mining operation, and the environment is in bad shape, though the current supervisor Satoru insists it's unrelated. Aang is now sure that Yangchen was trying to get him to shut the mine down, but things quickly get much more complicated, as Toph in particular is sucked into the conflict in a rather unusual way.


The Rift provides examples of:

  • Adorkable: Satoru is a Twilight Sparkle-level fanboy of the Gaang, especially Toph.
  • Animation Anatomy Aging: The Gaang are now clearly teenagers, looking a bit closer to their adult models from Korra, which is especially noticeable with Aang and Toph.
  • Ascended Extra: Three of the Air Temple Acolytes; Xing Ling, Yee-li, and Jingbo play a bigger role, with their individual personalities fleshed out a bit more.
    • Avatar Yangchen is given a lot of focus, as are the events from her past, specifically her first action as the Avatar.
    • The cabbage merchant now has a restaurant that serves cabbage-based food, but inevitably falls prey to his own Running Gag. But hey, at least his shop didn't collapse.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Lady Tienhai and General Old Iron are massive spirits. The former is long dead, whereas the latter is still around and now isn't being placated by Yangchen's festival.
  • Badass Beard: General Old Iron.
  • Because I Said So: Whenever Toph questioned her parents about some rule or tradition, her father would always answer, "That's just how it's done." To her, this is a source of angst.
  • Berserk Button: The phrase "That's just how it's done" triggers bad flashbacks for Toph and she becomes a lot less agreeable after she hears it.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Implied with General Old Iron.
  • Braids of Action: Yangchen wears her hair this way.
  • The Bus Came Back: The cabbage merchant makes an appearance in Part 2.
  • Call Back: Sokka wants a new bag, just like he did in "The Blind Bandit". The others mock him for it using lines from that episode.
  • Call Forward:
    • Satoru has invented an assembly line process based entirely on machines that non-benders can use, clearly the beginning of the more mechanized world seen in Korra.
    • Yu Dao is brought under the control of a council made up of both Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation citizens, a setup that Aang will repeat on a much larger scale with Republic City.
    • The cabbage merchant now runs a restaurant, which will become a whole corporation by the time of Korra.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Toph to Lao, saying that she's not the daughter he raised her to be, but she's his daughter nonetheless, and worthy in her own right. He says nothing in response, deeply upsetting her.
  • The Cameo: Kori, who started the events in The Promise, appears at the beginning of part one, where she introduces the new diverse, democratically elected governing counsel of Yu Dao: two fire nation citizens and two earth nation citizens, and for added diversity two men and two women.Note  Why Kori is the one doing the introduction is unknown, however.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Niyok and Nutha, sisters from the Southern Water Tribe and friends with Katara. They appear briefly in Part 1, just long enough to establish who they are and suggest that Nutha is angry with Katara about something.
    • Part 2 reveals that while Sokka and Katara have been globe trotting the Southern Water Tribe has hit hard times and its people have to leave to find work, sometimes dangerous work, just to eat.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: In the opening of part one, the citizens of Yu Dao wear the colors of their respective nations. Later at Saotru's refinery the workers wear colored scarves representing their nation.
  • Continuity Nod: Yangchen tells Aang that breaking his connection with Roku in The Promise has damaged his connection to all his past lives.
  • Cool Old Guy: Master Boma.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Satoru's uncle Loban, who's running a hidden iron mine underneath the legit crystal one. Even without the possibility of ticking off a powerful spirit, it's polluting the river and could potentially collapse the entire town. Averted for his business partner Lao Beifong, who cares about the workers and thinks of safety over profit.
  • Deadly Dodging: Aang beats a group of Earthbenders by getting them to surround him and then jumping high above them, causing all four to crash into each other. He gives them a little push with airbending to make sure it happens.
  • Double Meaning Title: "The Rift" is all cracks or breaks, ranging from the separation of the old island that's now a refinery versus the sacred island where Yangchen's festival is being held to Toph having to come face-to-face with her father after she ran away.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Toph is understandably annoyed that not only has her father essentially disowned her, but he won't even appreciate all the amazing things she's done after leaving home.
  • Elemental Armor: General Old Iron encases himself in rock (or possibly iron ore) when he's attacking.
  • Everyone Has Standards: When Toph states that the iron mine is dangerous, the first thing her father does is order the evacuation.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Niyok and Nutha, as well as one of the Rough Rhinos, have had to take dangerous jobs to earn money because the fallout of the war has hit some places hard.
  • False Reassurance: When Yangchen claims that now that she is a fully trained Avatar she is perfectly capable of handling any situation, her master is quick to remind her that she only mastered her last element a week ago.
  • Fat Bastard: Loban, who is verbally abusive towards his nephew Satoru and doesn't give a crap about his workers' safety to the point of running an unstable iron mine behind his business partner's back.
  • Foil: Aang and Toph are starkly contrasted here, especially Aang being allowed freedom by Monk Gyatso whereas Toph's parents kept her inside and expected her to uphold tradition and propriety without saying why.
    Toph: Don't you think you're trying a little too hard to hold onto your past?
    Aang: Maybe. But don't you think you're trying a little too hard to run away from it?
    Toph: Not everyone's past is like yours, Aang. Some of us have to run away just to... just to live.
  • Freudian Slip: Toph to Satoru, and lampshaded by Katara and Sokka right away:
    Toph: I would love to be in a partnership with you—I mean, the refinery.
    Sokka: Is it just me, or is there some serious oogie-osity going on over there?
    Katara: I think it's sweet. We almost never get to see Toph's softer side.
  • Former Regime Personnel: The Rough Rhinos were an elite unit loyal to Fire Lord Ozai's regime, but Ozai's defeat put them out of a job, and now they are reduced to mercenaries for hire.
  • Funny Background Event: During the factory tour, Katara uses her waterbending to swipe the meat shishkebab Sokka won't share.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: General Old Iron wishes retribution for the death of Lady Tienhan, his friend. Avatar Yangchen started her festival to placate him, but with the Air Nomad genocide there's been no one around to perform it and the mining certainly isn't helping.
  • Hazy Feel Turn: The Rough Rhinos have left the Fire Lord's services after the war ended, and now serve the highest bidder, who runs an operation that Aang is clearly more than uneasy about. In addition, they are still hostile towards the Avatar.
  • I Have No Daughter: Lao refuses to acknowledge that Toph is the daughter he raised, even in light of the fact that she's essentially a world-renowned hero.
  • Implausible Deniability: Satoru insists that the river pollution is from natural causes and not the fault of the factory. Toph confirms that he's telling the truth, or at least thinks he is. His uncle is in fact responsible, not just for the pollution but also the earthquakes.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Aang explains Air Nomad traditions by saying "That's just how it's done," the same words Toph's parents used to justify everything that she didn't like.
    • Toph turns it around later, absent-mindedly stating that though the town and refinery are on Air Nomad sacred land, it's effectively unowned as no-one has been there for a hundred years. Since the Fire Nation wiped out the Air Nomads.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Loban ran a unstable mine of iron, ignoring the security problem and even stopping Lao when the latter tried to get the workers evacuated. In the end of the issue he is trapped underneath said mine.
    • Lao always treated Toph as a fragile china doll and denied their relationship when she proved otherwise. Right now she is the only one who can keep him and a lot of other people alive after the mine's collapse.
  • Martial Pacifist: The very first thing Yangchen tried when General Iron attacked was asking him what his problem was and offering to solve it. When it didn't work she fought him and had to use the Avatar State when he was about to kill people. She finally managed to calm him and make a deal.
  • Meat Versus Veggies: In Part 1 Sokka taunts Aang and the Air Acolytes with a shish-kebab and offers to share it—but when Katara takes him up on it, he claims the offer's only open to the vegetarians. In a Funny Background Event, she just swipes the thing.
  • Not Important to This Episode Camp: This time it's Zuko's turn to pass on the adventure, as he has to get back to ruling the Fire Nation and also because his mother and her family are coming to visit. As one of his bodyguards, Suki is also out.
  • Not So Different: While Yangchen seems to understand why Aang broke his connection to Roku, she is quick to point out that his base reason was because Roku was too stuck in the past and that Aang himself has also become stuck as he desperately tries to keep the old ways of the Air Nomads alive even if he has very little understanding of what the traditions were for.
  • Pet the Dog: Lao is even more of a jerk than before, but does redeem himself a bit when he immediately insists the workers in the iron mine get to safety, over Loban's objections.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: In Part 2, a collapse in an iron mine makes sure Toph is the only one capable of stopping the collapse or facilitating any escape, since Aang (who's outside) cannot metalbend and the walls are unnaturally thick with iron ore.
  • Reality Ensues: In The Promise, Aang breaks his connection with Roku after realizing that Roku would always advise him to take drastic measures because he was too traumatized by his own mistake. Five comics later, he learns that his rash action had consequences for his connection to the rest of his past lives, since Roku was the most recent one.
    • One of the Rough Rhinos strongly averts Talking Is a Free Action.
      "Let this be a lesson to you, kiddies. Never have a conversation when you're in the middle of a fight!"
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: General Old Iron went on one of these when Lady Tienhai was murdered.
  • Running Gag: The youngest Air Acolyte insists on carrying a huge backpack by himself because...
    Jingbo: As the most junior Air Acolyte present, it's my honor to carry the festival supplies!
    • ...and keeps having to ask for help when he falls down.
    • And the poor Cabbage Merchant again suffers misfortune to his cabbages. It's not so bad this time, though.
  • Ship Tease: Toph quickly gets a crush on Satoru, but their relationship is soured as Toph's family issues come to the fore, and she accuses him of "acting like a sniveling flunky" to his uncle (who's her father's business partner).
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Averted; as the three Acolytes argue as to whether or not it goes against Air Nomad culture to "squish" a person, the Rough Rhino Jingbo had hit with a forklift recovers and captures them and tells them it's not a good idea to have a debate in the middle of a battle. Luckily, they are saved by Toph.
  • The Good King: The king in Yangchen's time. He took complete responsibility for Lady Tienhai's death and when General Old Iron attacks his only request to Yangchen is to ensure his citizens' lives.
  • Time Skip: It's been at least a year between the last comic and this one, long enough for the Gaang to have visibly aged since their last appearance.
  • There Was a Door: Toph arbitrarily takes down a wall so she can ask Satoru where her father's office is. Walking through the main entrance was apparently out of the question.
  • Third Eye: General Old Iron.
  • Those Two Girls: The two female air acolytes, Xing Ling (the bald one) and Yee-li.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: When Aang saves one of the Rough Rhinos from falling and being seriously injured, the mook thanks him, then pulls a knife on him. Aang quickly Earthbends him into the ground.
  • Wham Line:
    • When the owners of the factory arrive.
      Loban: Lao...? You look like you've seen a ghost.
      Toph: Father.
    • Later:
      Satoru: Boss man Lao? You told me you didn't have a family.
      Lao: (Beat Panel). That's correct. This girl is not my daughter.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Like the previous trilogy, this one addresses a lingering plot thread from the series as Toph encounters her father again.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Aang complains about Toph almost hurting one of the Rough Rhinos more than is necessary, while she accuses some of the Air Acolytes of showing too much restraint and giving their opponent the upper hand.

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