Out of the four elements in the Avatar World, we have seen the Subsets of Earth, Water and Fire Bending. Earth Benders have the ability to bend metal, Water Benders have the ability to blood bend and heal, and Fire Benders have the ability to produce and re-direct lightning.
All of these Subsets have proved to be extremely valuable assets for the bender who possesses them. Toph was able to bend metal and escape captivity, Katara was able to heal Aang with the water from the Spirit Oasis, and Zuko was able to redirect the lightening Fire Lord Ozai directed at him once the Eclipse ended on The Day of Black Sun.
Unfortunately, Aang never had the luxury of utilizing a Subset from his natural form of bending: Air Bending. He was constrained to utilizing what Air Bending could accomplish itself rather than utilizing a possible Subset.
But despite the fact that we still have yet to see a Subset to Air Bending after all these years, it’s still valid to question its existence. Just because we haven’t seen it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. In fact, I’m fairly confident that a Subset to Air Bending does indeed exist, but I don’t think we’ll ever see it or learn what it is.
In fact, I don’t think it would be possible for Mike and Bryan to introduce a Subset into the show even if they wanted to. They technically could, since it’s their show, but it wouldn’t make much sense.
Let’s role the clock back about 170 years ago in the Avatar World: Aang has just learned that he is the Avatar. After learning that his lifestyle would change for the worse, Aang runs away and ends up frozen in a block of ice for around 100 years. In that span of time, all the remaining Air Benders are wiped from the face of the planet.
So what does that mean?
If an apparent Subset to Air Bending was ever discovered in the first place, the evidence of its presence was lost when the Fire Nation killed off every Air Bender in existence. Sure, Aang stayed alive, but he obviously wasn’t taught the Subset to Air Bending since he never utilized it during his journey. The knowledge of a Subset to Air Bending most likely died off with Monk Gyatso and the rest of the Air Benders when the Fire Nation wiped them out.
But Toph was able to discover the Subset to Earth Bending, why can’t Korra discover the Subset to Air Bending by herself?
If this was a possibility, Aang would have done it a long time ago. By birth, Korra is a Water Bender. Sure, she might have mastered Air Bending during the course of Book 1, but that doesn’t necessarily give her the ability to invent a Subset to Air Bending. If she was a naturally born Air Bender, then I wouldn’t count her out. But because she’s a Water Bender at heart, I don’t think she’d possess the ability to discover the Subset to Air Bending. Aang would have had a shot at that when he was a live, but I don’t think he discovered anything.
But let’s be optimistic. Let’s say Aang actually did learn the Subset to Air Bending after the 100 Year War. In that case, we could only hope that he taught it to Tenzin. If he did teach it to Tenzin, then I actually expect Korra to learn the Subset to Air Bending in Book 2 of The Legend of Korra. But the chances of that are slim to none mostly because you’d think that would have been taken care of in a Book titled ‘Air’.
So what do you think: Will we learn about or see a Subset to Air Bending during the course of The Legend of Korra?