ScreenRant recently published a post in which its reporter tried to pass for news the fact that Aang and Zuko, two key characters from Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko’s beloved animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender are family members.
The conceit of this article is problematic for two reasons, though. First, the revelation, which ScreenRant attributes to a comic book spinoff series, isn’t a revelation at all (said comic, the third part of a series called The Promise, debuted in 2012). Second, the familial link between the two characters wasn’t initially announced by the comic, but explicitly discussed in the original show itself.
In The Promise, Aang and Zuko butt heads over how to organize the world now that they’ve defeated the Fire Lord. Fearing Zuko might stray from what he believes to be the righteous path, Aang seeks guidance from his previous reincarnation, the fire-bending Roku, who in turn reveals that Zuko is his – and, by extension, Aang’s – great-grandson.
The thing is, while Aang didn’t know this yet, the audience did. See, in the penultimate season of The Last Airbender, there’s an episode in which an imprisoned Iroh sets Zuko on a quest to learn the true history of his great-grandfather. After digging through a series of scrolls which narrate the falling out between war-mongering Sozin and peace-loving Avatar Roku, an upset Zuko confronts his uncle and tells him he’s learned nothing except textbook Fire Nation history. True, Iroh responds, but only insofar as one of his great-grandfathers is concerned. When Zuko fails to understand him, Iroh confesses that, while Sozin was his father’s grandfather, Avatar Roku was his mother’s.
Confused? That’s understandable. The lineages are pretty complicated, especially for first-time viewers. However, these details do not go to show which character is related to which so much as they show how Avatar: The Last Airbender is related to The Promise – one’s the real deal, the other little more than an afterthought.