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Technically, a comet is a huge ball of rock, dirt, ice and frozen gases. In the series, Sozin's comet catches fire by entering the upper atmosphere, giving a boost to firebenders all around the world by simply having a lot of their element floating in the sky.

Wouldn't earth benders also be strengthened by the appearance of such a large rock? If nearby presence is enough for firebenders, why isn't it for earthbenders?

The same argument could go for waterbender, ice being a primary component of the comet and water vapor possibly accounting for nearly 80% of it's tail's gaseous volume (like in Halley's comet's case).

The case could even possibly be made for airbenders, as large quantity of gases would be released in the air by such a comet that actually entered the atmosphere. Also, it's entirely possible that the air movements caused by the passage of such a massive object actually create wind in the upper atmosphere.

Thus, my question would be "why are only firebenders affected by Sozin's comet?"

Preferably, an accepted answer would be based on known canon.

Thank you for your time, everyone!

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    Earthbenders are also unaffected by the moon, even though the moon is much more rock than water. I think it's safe to say that whatever effect celestial bodies have on bending, it doesn't have much to do with their composition.
    – Micah
    Nov 4, 2012 at 21:58
  • @Micah But the moon is very very far compared to the comet. The moon itself maybe isn't what affects the waterbenders either. It could easily be the effect of the bigger tides during full moon.
    – Dungarth
    Nov 4, 2012 at 23:34
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    I think it's unlikely that waterbending is directly associated with tide strength. If it were, then waterbenders would be just as strong at the new moon, and during the daytime when the moon was full, as they are during the night of a full moon. So far as I'm aware, there's no canon evidence of either.
    – Micah
    Nov 5, 2012 at 0:12
  • I can't seem to remember if they specifically mentionned waterbenders being weaker during new moon. If they did, the moon's influence is definitely not tide-based, and most likely spirit-based, like Pureferret said. People making cool TV shows need to hire more science consultants! :P
    – Dungarth
    Nov 5, 2012 at 5:00
  • Actually, why in the first place would Sozin's comet help firebenders? youtu.be/24uo7dUf8hk?t=183
    – BCLC
    May 25, 2015 at 4:54

4 Answers 4

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This may not be the most satisfying answer to a scientifically minded individual, but it is canonical. The reason other Benders are not assisted by Sozin's Comet is a similar reason to why Waterbenders cannot bend air (which is largely water): because the rules of the Avatar universe do not allow them to.

From Winter Solstice, Parts 1 and 2, we learn that each Element can be strengthened by certain events in the world. The Moon, as controller of the tides, represents Waterbending. When the Moon is out and full, Waterbenders have their strength greatly increased. We also learn from Avatar Roku that Sozin's Comet grants Firebenders the same elevated power. Why is this the case? It is not fully explained. We know Firebenders normally draw their power from the sun, and lose it during a solar eclipse. We can assume that because the ball of frozen dust and gases dips into the atmosphere of the planet as it whips by, the gases ignite, and the fire merely overpowers the ice and dust that comprises the rest of the comet. The flaming ball low in the atmosphere serves to provide more Fire energy than the sun does on normal day.

We are never told in an episode what the event that ties to Airbenders or Earthbenders is, but in a leaked portion of the Avatar: The Last Airbender IP Bible, we are told that an Earthbender's power is strengthened by standing on a fault line and absorbing the energy from the moving Earth. The IP Bible doesn't mention any similar event/condition for Airbenders to benefit from.

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    "This may not be the most satisfying answer to a scientifically minded individual [...]" I am, in fact, a high school science teacher! Also, water accounts for about only 0.4% of the total atmospheric volume, and between 1 and 4% at ground level depending on humidity; air is probably best described as not largely water. Other than that, great answer! And you are probably right... My interrogation was more of a nitpick and I should've let my suspension of disbelief win this one. Thanks!
    – Dungarth
    Nov 5, 2012 at 4:36
  • Maybe not largely water, but the water is evenly distributed through the air. There are rules of the Avatar universe, and it's more than welcome to ask them. Some just don't reflect any "real world" science. One must also consider, the Avatar world may have different compositions of matter than our own. It is possible in the Avatar world, Air has no Water in it. It's also possible that comets aren't dust and frozen gases, and just a physical representation of concentrated Fire Energy. Nov 5, 2012 at 7:14
  • Well, the show clearly demonstrates the presence of water in the air of the Avatar world (as do the rules presented in your link). But you are right that the name "comet" probably does not apply to the same concept in that world as it does in our own. After all, the word comet itself derives from the greeks when Aristotle used it to describe "stars with hair". The word comet was first used with fire in mind even in our own world, it seems!
    – Dungarth
    Nov 5, 2012 at 14:13
  • I think this phrases my good points much better than I do, misses my bad points and adds some other very good points.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Nov 5, 2012 at 20:01
  • Right, scientific characteristics of celestial bodies don't really come into play. It's stated that waterbenders are most powerful during a full moon, but tides are highest at both the full and new moons. But for some reason, waterbenders do not get a boost in power during a new moon. Jul 9, 2020 at 19:45
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Classically in the canon, we see the bending-elements have more to do with the spirit world than with physical elements.

Waterbenders are strengthened by the full moon, which is mostly rock and not ice or water. This is because it was the moon spirit that first taught waterbending, or at least the tribes learnt from the example of the moon. It appears to be bending water (we know this is not true, it's just gravity). So we can surmise that the moon spirit is what aids water benders under a full moon. This is proven when the current moon spirit dies and the water bender's powers wane (pun intended).
tl;dr The spirits aid bending, not the physical object that they are associated with.

Sozin's comet is going to appear mostly like a ball of fire in the sky, regardless of it's actual composition. Thus it's likely a similar fire spirit is responsible for the enhancement of the firebender's during the approach of Sozin's comet.

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  • I like your take on this question. It is true that the Avatar universe has a very detailed spiritual take on the world. But now that leads me to more questions! A spirit that has ties to waterbending would feel some kinship with the moon, as it pushes and pulls water. This would be true regardless of human perceptions. Sozin's comet spends only a few days (hours?) every 100 years as a fireball. The rest of the time, it's just water and rocks. If humans weren't around to see fire in the sky, would the spirit choose the same? Very good answer, though!
    – Dungarth
    Nov 5, 2012 at 4:49
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    I think it's less the spirits responsible for the "comet boosting" effect, though, and more the increased level of "potential fire energy" present when the comet is cruising past. Firebenders normally draw their fire from energy; this can come from the sun, from within themselves as rage or life force, or from a passing Comet. This relationship with Energy is most clearly seen in Lightningbending. That's my take on it, anyway. Nov 5, 2012 at 7:09
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I would like to point out that the whole concept of a recurring comet that collides with the Earth is nonsensical. The reason comet's are visible in a predictable cycle (e.g. Halley's Comet) is due to their orbit around the Sun. A comet that collides with the Earth would no longer be orbiting the Sun and wouldn't be able to collide again. Nor would similar comets be able to collide in a predictable cycle. I don't think the Avatar Universe is concerned with logicality and is just suppose to be a mythical world where logic does not necessarily apply.

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I think we can extrapolate from the Moon Spirit in Winter Solstice, Parts 1 and 2 and say that celestial bodies in general have associated spirits. The spirit associated with the Moon is a water spirit. The spirit associated with Sozin's Comet happens to be a fire spirit of some sort, for whatever reason, even if the comet's physical nature is not fiery. Perhaps it's related to the way the comet burns the planet's atmosphere as it clips it briefly at the closest pass.

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