Book Excerpt: When the Fire Nation Attacked: Illustrated Insights on Avatar: The Last Airbender | Features

Personal: Soup, pizza, hot chocolate, coffee, and Hot Pockets all have something in common: for some reason, no matter how hard you try to heat them to the correct temperature, they will always be too hot. With airbending, you never have to bite into a scorching hot piece of pizza again. When your food is ready, a little whoosh of air, and now you’re at a safe-to-eat temperature. Oh, and you can fly.


School: Freshman year of college is full of easy-to-make food. It’s full of Top Ramen, mac ‘n’ cheese, and any other microwavable dish available. The cafeterias—the majority of them at least—serve food in mass quantities. You end up eating the exact same thing every couple of days. It’s repetition at its finest. You’re eating whatever you can, but you might have to wait five to ten minutes to warm up your food, hanging in line for the one microwave in your dorm; the grossest, dirtiest little hot box you’ve ever seen. With firebending, you can heat up any food at any time. You can make elaborate meals in your dorm room. You can be eating the finest food any freshman has ever eaten.

Work: No need to overcomplicate this. Firefighters. And yes, you might say, “Oh, well waterbending would be better for them.” Wrong. You’re wrong. Waterbenders can’t create controlled fires. They can’t stop and start fire at will. Fire extinguishers would become extinct. How about waterbenders and firebenders work together on this one? Millions of animals would be saved. Honorable mention: pottery people, kiln workers, mechanics, and chefs. All of the chefs. 

Home: Two words: body temperature. Constant homeostasis. It’s so exhausting to constantly be changing clothes, throwing on sweats and a hoodie, changing into shorts and a tank midday, back into pants and a jacket (or two) for the evening. How about this? Wake up and put on whatever clothes you want. You can always be wearing a T-shirt and shorts. Sandal weather all the time. Why put on sunscreen when you can instantly make yourself tan, which seems like a thing firebenders should be able to do? Take that UV in the safest way possible. Sunburns are a thing of the past.

Personal: Harnessing and redirecting lightning would be the greatest party trick in the history of party tricks. Only a select few can do it in the Avatar universe, including Iroh, Zuko, Azula and Aang. In the US, lightning strikes most often in Florida and Texas, making lightning redistribution the most equally dangerous and incredible way to impress someone in those respective states’ histories. 

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Illustration by Mikaela Duhs


School: There are probably few times one would need to move a few thousand pounds of rock at school, but there is one scenario that earthbending would be clutch: the science fair. Out of the way paper mache volcano, here comes a 200-pound, 5-foot-tall rock volcano. You would undoubtedly take home the gold.

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