The Search Part 3 is the third installment in The Search trilogy, a graphic novel continuation of The Promise storyline, which was itself a follow-up to the plot of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was originally released by Dark Horse Comics in collaboration with Nickelodeon on October 30, 2013, in comic book stores and on October 9, 2012, in regular stores. It will be released with its counterparts in Avatar: The Last Airbender—The Search Library Edition HC on February 5, 2014.
Avatar Aang travels to the Spirit World to negotiate with an ancient power, bringing Fire Lord Zuko ever closer to discovering the truth about his mother's fate, and his own past. Meanwhile, Azula is becoming more and more dangerous,and threatens to ruin everything that Zuko, Aang, Katara, and Sokka have struggled to achieve during their search.
As Aang meets the Mother of Faces in the Spirit World, Azula turns on Team Avatar, Rafa, and Misu and attacks the group, only for Zuko to redirect her lightning. After realizing Azula is too dangerous and unstable to remain free, Zuko, Katara and Sokka attempt to detain her, only for Aang to reawaken and to bring the Mother of Faces to speak with them. The spirit agrees to grant them one favor, to which Zuko gave Misu the privilege of asking. Before she can ask the Mother of Faces to restore Rafa's missing face, Azula steals the opportunity from them by asking the spirit where Ursa is. The Mother of Faces then reveals that Team Avatar has already met Ursa once already, for Ursa had her face and memories changed and became Noriko, hoping to forget the horrors of her past with Ozai and to protect her children.
It is also revealed through flashbacks that Noren is in fact Ikem, who underwent the same change to hide from Ozai's soldiers and offered the same to Ursa to help her hide. As Azula runs off, Zuko and Sokka chase after her, intent on stopping her from causing Ikem and Ursa any harm. As this occurs, Aang pleads with the Mother of Faces, intent on helping Rafa and Misu, only to anger her when he goes too far. The Mother of Faces then summons the animal spirits of Forgetful Valley, trying to force them to leave the Valley. In the chaos, Rafa's mask is knocked off, revealing that Rafa's face was not disfigured but instead taken by Koh, the Face Stealer, whom the Mother of Faces, reveals to be her son. Repentant, she restores Rafa's face and agrees to help Aang repair the relationship between Ursa and her children.
Arriving at Noren and Noriko's house, Sokka agrees to stand guard while Zuko goes to see Noren, Noriko and Kiyi, where he explains his true identity. Noren acknowledges Noriko's true identity as Ursa, tells her, and reveals his identity as Ikem to Zuko. As Ikem explains, Azula and Sokka crash through the roof as they battle. Azula then focuses her attention on Ursa, and in her psychosis accuses her mother of trying to overpower her since she was born, to which Ursa apologizes that she must not have loved Azula enough if she had turned out so badly, bringing the former princess to the edge of tears. Zuko then intervenes and fights off Azula, and explains that he has accepted his destiny as Fire Lord, and that though he and Azula may never have a good relationship, he still loves his sister. Unable to handle the fact that someone does love her, Azula flees toward Forgetful Valley, despite Zuko pleading that he wants to help her, leaving the incriminating letter with Zuko.
Aang arrives with Katara shortly after, with the Mother of Faces following close behind. When the Mother of Faces asks Ursa if she wants her memories back, Ursa agrees, and she restores them with her original face. Though Katara fears Azula will return, both Aang and Zuko believe that her act in leaving the letter with Zuko is the beginning of a change for the better in Azula to which Sokka vehemently disagrees. Zuko then meets with his mother, who tells him that the letter was a lie. Zuko is not Ikem's son but is indeed Ozai's son, and that Ursa wrote the letter to see if he was intercepting her letters to Ikem and as a way of spiting him for his cruel behavior. As they speak, Zuko asks his mother to tell him how it all began, to which she agrees, ending the story.
A week after its predecessor suddenly shot to the top of the chart months after its publication,The Search Part 3 became number one on the New York Times' graphic novel bestseller list upon release, beating out its popular Walking Dead competition. However, despite sharing the strong sales of Part 2, it did not remain at the top for long, falling to third the following week.
The Search Part 3 was hailed by Speak Geeky to Me as "an absolutely amazing comic and by far the best of the Avatar comics released so far," praising the artistry and storytelling and giving it a full ten-out-of-ten. Angela Sylvia of the Fandom Post was also enamored, saying of the answer to the "Zuko's mom" question, "it's nothing like what I expected, and is still so satisfying." She also gave the comic a perfect score.
Noriko and Noren turned out to be Ursa and Ikem, respectively, thus revealing Kiyi to be Zuko and Azula's half-sister.
Rafa's face was stolen by Koh, the Face Stealer.
Koh is revealed to be the son of the Mother of Faces.
Zuko confirmed from his mother that he was indeed Ozai's son, and the contents of the letter that he and Azula were fighting for were untrue.
On page 51, in the second panel, the Mother of Faces grabs Rafa's face with her right hand, but in the subsequent panels, she is shown holding him with her left hand.