The Search Part 1 is a little slow to start, as it finishes the clean up from The Promise and takes its time unfolding the story it's going to tell. The Search still managed to keep my attention during these slower sections through the inclusion of a series of flashbacks which explores Ursa's story. These flashbacks manage to give more information about her as a character without ruining the mystery the Gaang are trying to solve in the present. I felt more attached to Ursa and more invested in her discovery by her children than ever before.
After The Promise and the first season of Legend of Korra, I've been jonesing to get away from the big city plots and get a story that ties into the Spirit Realm and those aspects of the Avatar world. The Search does not disappoint, bringing back spirits in a big way that satiated my desire.
Azula is a great addition to the team. While Toph's absence is felt, Azula introduces a chaotic element. Her insanity keeps things interesting, and exploring her complicated relationship with Zuko is a highlight of the volume. The focus is on Zuko and his family with Aang, Katara, and Sokka largely along for the ride and to provide guidance as the family works through their internal issues. I'm still not pleased that Sokka is stuck in that comedic character role. While an important aspect to his character, he's also the man with a plan and a master swordsman, both of which are aspects completely lost in the comics. That said, the brother and sister spats between Katara and Sokka keep the volume lighthearted in spite of all the drama, insanity, and spirits.
While I've praised the art in the Avatar comics before, it still bears some repetition; the comic looks great, perfectly capturing the look and feel of the show. Bending battles are fast-paced and visually stunning, as are the spirit elements.
The Search Part 1 is a welcome addition to the library of Avatar comics; The Search is a more tightly focused story, but in many ways I think backing away from the issues explored in Legend of Korra and focusing on the core of some of the characters is a set up that promises to lead to one of the best Avatar stories ever told.