I admit it, Toph in the Avatar the Last Airbender series was never my favorite character. I appreciated her and sometimes even her “Devil-may-care” attitude, but her humor (she said it as it is about a good toenail picking) was usually spot on. But I do not think she and I would have been “real life” friends. Therefore, when I saw that she was getting her own book, I was not sure I wanted to read it. However, I am up for almost anything ALA and especially curious about how the creators of the show wanted to do her Metalbending Academy story. It was hinted at in another book and I wanted to see where they went with it.
Avatar: The Last Airbender: Toph Beifong’s Metalbending Academy was a pleasant surprise. Sure, for me it is not the strongest of the stories of the “after Avatar,” universe, but still is a good one for fans of The Blind Bandit herself, Toph Beifong. This would have been an interesting “stand alone” story for the series (if they had continued after the Avatar Scooby gang had defeated the Fire Nation). Mostly new characters are introduced (or at least they are newer, as at least three were introduced in a previous graphic novel) but a few familiar faces show up, too.
To tell the whole story, is to give it away, therefore I will just say that Toph finds herself in a new adventure with an interesting result. The metal bending academy was not the focus, but you see a little of it. I would have liked to see a tad bit more, but what is there is perfect for what the authors wanted. Faith Erin Hicks knows what she is doing when she writes spunky characters and with Peter Wartman right there with her, how could it not be respectful to the mythology but creating a new one as well?
Adele Matera’s illustrators are bold, bright, detailed but not overly crowded, but most of the space is used. I was curious about how the medium text was a symbol of Toph’s blindness (she has to use other senses to see what is around, so talking can get in the way) but it is not just illustrations. Part of this more likely is because Toph is solo or around only one or two people so talking/text is not always needed. Yet, both art and text complement each other and make a good graphic novel and story for the Avtar world.