"Clearing the Air" is a comic short written by Kiku Hughes and drawn by Sam Beck, with coloring by Killian Ng and lettering by Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt. It was released by Dark Horse Comics on August 14, 2021, as a part of Free Comic Book Day.
Tenzin relates the tale of a fight he had as a youngster, and what the confrontation helped him discover about his Air Nomad heritage. But will that lesson work for Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo?
Tenzin is meditating outside the main building of Air Temple Island, where he hears a noise from inside. He goes in to see Jinora and Ikki arguing, while Meelo is bending an air scooter, which is making the objects around him wobble. Tenzin asks what is going on, and Jinora tells him that Ikki tore his scroll. Ikki claims that it was an accident, but Jinora tells her that she should tell that to the police when they come to put her in jail. Tenzin tells his daughters to stop and also takes Meelo off his air scooter, starting to tell him a story from his childhood. Bored, Ikki whispers to Jinora that she would rather go to jail, which Tenzin says he will pretend he did not hear.
The story begins when Tenzin is just a few years older than Jinora, when the Air Acolytes on Air Temple Island notice smoke coming from the airbending gates. Tenzin and an Acolyte rush over to see a waterbender and a firebender vandalizing the gates and drawing crude graffiti on it, asking them to stop what they are doing. The criminals rush to the island's pier, and the waterbender starts bending a raft to get away from the island, but Tenzin starts flying on his glider to follow them to the mainland. Tenzin and the criminals start to fight with their bending, with Tenzin gaining the upper hand until they are apprehended by the police. The police tell them to stop, but realizing that Tenzin is the Avatar's son, they raise that Chief Beifong will want to see what has happened.
All three are brought into Toph's office at the police headquarters. The police chief says she is not surprised to see the two vandals back at the station, but is surprised to see Tenzin there, rhetorically asking if airbenders are now getting into street brawls. Toph tells him that, as much as she loves a fight, he broke the law, and could have broken some bones if her officers had not stepped in. Tenzin tells her that they were the ones defacing centuries-old airbender gates, and that he could not let them get away with it. Toph tells him that she understands, but asks why he thought he would do some vigilante justice instead of reporting it to the police.
Toph hears Aang knocking at the door and rhetorically says that it is all that they need. Aang jokingly says that it is nice to see her. The Avatar says that he learned about what happened from Toph's deputy, and apologizes for Tenzin's part in the fight, as well as any property that might have been damaged. Toph tells him not to worry, as the gates were the only damaged objects. She says she will let Tenzin off with a warning, while the two vandals will be spending the night in jail. Aang considers that if they only damaged Air Nation property, it is part of his jurisdiction, and requests to take the vandals back to the island. Toph complains that Aang loves undermining her authority, and he jokingly responds that it is all part of their complicated friendship.
Aang ushers Tenzin and the vandals onto Appa, who is resting near the parked cars outside the police headquarters. The criminals begin to apologize to Aang, pleading with him not to take their bending away. Somewhat shocked, Aang clarifies that he would never do such a thing to children over some graffiti, and that they are not in that much trouble, only wishing to share an Air Nomad tradition with them. Tenzin begins to protest that they might mess up the saddle or hurt Appa, but Aang tells him that there is a difference between vandalism and hurting a living being. Aang ushers his son and the vandals onto Appa, and they begin to fly toward the island.
On the way, Tenzin expresses his frustration for his father letting the criminals get away with everything. He says that he knows that Aang will tell him that he's not ready for his arrows, because he is not supposed to get angry or use his bending to attack, even when they deserve it. Frustrated, he said that they did deserve it, as he is supposed to keep the Air Nation alive, but he cannot even protect the gates. Aang tells him that the gates are not important like he is, and that Tenzin could never let Aang down, or the Air Nation, as they live on in him. He apologizes with Tenzin for bearing that responsibility, but says that he wholeheartedly trusts him with it. He explains to Tenzin that he would like him to resolve the conflict traditionally, where the Head Monk would oversee all disputes and see the offender and the victim come to a fair resolution. Tenzin says that he does not know what to do, but Aang says that he will guide him through it.
On the island, Aang sits Tenzin and the two vandals by the space for meditation. He explains that in the Air Nation, when someone wronged another, they were not put behind bars, but an elder monk would call a victim and an offender to meet. The victim would begin by expressing how they were harmed and what they needed in order to make amends. The offender would then have a chance to apologize and suggest ways to make amends. Once everyone felt heard and respected, the monk would lead a group through a reconciliation ritual to cleanse the air, an act of purification to restore balance to one's spirit and the community. Tenzin and the vandals clear the air together, using their air, water, and firebending. They then get a bucket and a mop, and start cleaning the gates. Katara joins Aang, and he tells her that it is not always this easy to keep the peace, but she tells him that he is young, and that he should have the easy ones for now, as he has made friends with the vandals.
In the present day, Meelo starts bending air, and Jinora tells him to stop, as she has to be the leader, with Tenzin starting to get frustrated at his children. Korra and Asami enter the room, asking what happened, and Tenzin says he is resolving the conflict as well as he can.
- Tenzin is wearing his United Republic pin, rather than the leaf pin that he consistently wears since the dissolution of the United Republic Council.
- Appa is shown with brown ears instead of white. Brown ears are common among the flying bison breed discovered in The Legend of Korra.
- This is the first narrative story to feature a middle-aged Katara.
- This story marks the first appearance of Appa in a story related to The Legend of Korra.
- Clearing the Air by @kikuhughes@sambeckdraws@KLLiiNNG Matcha Makers by @Nadia_Shammas_ @SaraAlfageeh@Srganuch@Comicraft. Twitter (July 19, 2021). Retrieved on July 19, 2021.