|"I'm going to join the Fire Nation Army!"|
|— Sokka making his declaration.|
"Private Fire" is a comic book that takes place in Book Three: Fire, originally released by Nickelodeon in a four-part series through the Book Three individual DVD volumes, and later released by Dark Horse Comics in The Lost Adventures.
When his ideas for learning about Fire Nation secrets bring no worthwhile results, Sokka decides that the only way to find out what he needs to know is to go undercover not as an ordinary citizen, but as a member of the Fire Nation Army. "Private Fire" soon discovers that he is in over his head when a temperamental drill sergeant strikes up a vendetta.
Sokka, distraught by the fact that neither he nor anyone else in the group knows any practical information about the Fire Nation despite residing in "enemy territory", decides after some brainstorming that the most productive method of learning about the enemy is to observe them in their everyday lives. He leads the rest of Team Avatar to a market town, which is where he thinks he will see the Fire Nation's true colors. While strolling through the market, Toph correctly guesses that the innocent citizens of the town are simply there to shop in sarcastic protest to Sokka's ever-present paranoia.
After fruitlessly spying on numerous everyday citizens, Aang, Katara, and Toph agree that watching ordinary people will not teach them what they need to know about the Fire Nation and that they must get Sokka to end his vendetta. Right when this thought crosses their minds, however, Sokka comes up with a different plan: to join the Fire Nation Army, gather information from there, and leave when a few days of undercover work have passed. Although the team is strongly against the idea and skeptical of whether the army would let him in, Sokka, disguised as an adult named Wang Fire, is recruited without a fuss.
At the boot camp, the base's leader, who becomes annoyed at "Private Wang Fire", decides to keep a close eye on the new recruit. After continued infractions, he decides that Sokka has crossed the line when the private rips the leader's prized sash, albeit accidentally. This results in multiple punishments for the private, including an order to shovel moo-sow droppings. While carrying out this particular punishment, Sokka overhears two soldiers mention that all new recruits will be shipped out to the front line tomorrow, a trip he cannot afford. Understanding the dire situation he has found himself in, he manages to sneak past the guards and escape the boot camp in the dead of night.
The following morning, the base leader questions his men about Private Fire's absence and after the base has been scoured, he orders the soldiers to search for Private Fire, a criminal deserter of the Fire Nation, outside the base's borders. This search turns out to be a successful one when they spot Sokka, who has gone to the cave where Team Avatar is camping to tell them that they must leave, not long after they leave the base.
Needing to think of an excuse quickly, Sokka blurts that the reason for his having left was that he tracked earthbender and waterbender spies to that cave. Aang, Katara, and Toph prove to the leader, who they overhear does not believe Sokka's claims, that "spies" are there by bending at the soldiers. Since the base leader is too stunned to give his soldiers any commands, Sokka takes it upon himself to march alone into the cave. After the team escapes through the back of the cave on Appa, a cave in occurs thanks to Toph's earthbending. The leader, having had a change of heart upon witnessing Private Fire's apparent demise, sees personally that his memory lives on, arranging a memorial in his honor.
- Main article: Transcript:Private Fire
- Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
- The first page, in which Sokka complains that Aang did not learn anything about the Fire Nation while Aang was enrolled in a school except that the children have an oath, heavily alludes to "The Headband". That episode is further referenced by Sokka's reuse of the Wang Fire guise.
- Aang's hair is a slightly lighter shade of black throughout the story than it is on Part One's cover, or during the rest of the series for that matter.
- In November 2007, in advertisement of Nickelodeon Magazine hosting a panel at the New York Anime Festival, the magazine's LiVEJOURNAL chief posted a page of "Private Fire" with edited dialogue from the characters. The page used was page seven, in which Aang originally exclaimed, "You're going to join the Fire Nation Army?!" This text was replaced with, "We're going to the NY Anime Fest!?" Sokka's had his dialogue on the page replaced with him explaining the date and time of the event, and Toph said that she would cosplay as Sparky Sparky Boom Man for the occasion.