Avatar: The Last Airbender, published by Tokyopop, 96 pages, $7.99.

In a time long-past, (or perhaps far in the future...?) four civilizations inhabited the known world; The Air Nomads, Earth Kingdom, Fire Nation and Water Tribes, all kept in place by the Avatar, he who had control of all four elements. Now, war rages between the ruthless "fire benders" and the peace-loving "water benders", and only the Avatar can make things right. But, first, he must be found!

Tokyopop's Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the few Manga or Manga-influenced projects that have ever sparked any interest in me. Whether it was due to the cover art, or the nifty digest format is unclear, but something made me pick it up and investigate. I liked what I saw.

Based on the Nickelodeon animated program, the tale itself is captivating, primarily due to writer Michael Dante DiMartino's charming characters and simple, straightforward, yet intriguing storyline. Sokka and his sister, Katara (herself an aspiring water bender) are on a fishing trip when an event occurs that both unnerves and offers hope. The siblings' sniping interaction is part of the entertainment, and has an authentic quality, coming from someone who has watched quite a few brothers and sisters interact. The art is by Bryan Konietzko. It's extremely pleasing to the eye, with a "Disney meets Japanese animation" look about it. Lively, colorful, and seemingly made for tales of high-action, as well as fantasy, it does much to bring DiMartino's characters to life.

The best part about this book, however, is that it can be read and enjoyed by all ages. No "mature readers" label necessary, and no chance of most adults feeling like they're reading a "kiddy book". With humor, action, drama and even the sense of something like a sweeping epic, Avatar could appeal to many different fans of fiction, whether comics fans or not. It's recommended for all readers.

Find it at comics shops, bookstores, or online auctions.

Mark Allen

For information on the exciting Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection and Toy and Action Figure Museum go to fourcolorcommentary.blogspot.com/