All hell broke loose on the ICC (internet comics community) yesterday! It’s been a while! But WHODUNNIT? The leaked death of Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel in Amazing Spider-Man #26 led to Discourse the likes of which we hadn’t seen in a long time.
To be fair, killing off a popular female character does have the lingering scent of “fridging”, the very, very common practice of killing off a female character so a male character can have some kind of emotional catharsis.
And also, it’s been a while Marvel killed off a character with such fanfare – despite svp of Print, Sales and Marketing David Gabriel’s one time promise to kill a character once a quarter to boost sales. That quote came after the Human Torch died all the way back in 2011, garnering all kinds of PR and sales. Since then, Johnny Storm has come back to life, and other members of the FF have been snuffed out and been resurrected many time. So many times that CBR has a helpful article entitled Fantastic Four: The 10 Saddest Deaths, Ranked – but the piece unhelpfully doesn’t even mention the issues that the sad deaths took place in. It’s called research, people!
It almost goes without saying that the words “comic book” and “death” are mutually exclusive terms, like “Mets fan” and “happiness.” Although readers’ love of Kamala Khan is laudable, and outrage understandable, death merely another Marvel marketing tactic, as outlined at Newsarama by George Marston.
There’s a simple potential answer. Marvel has a habit of killing off characters who are about to star in upcoming films or otherwise taking them off the board in some way, only to give them a big, triumphant return to coincide with their new movie or series.
The trend has reached a point where you can basically just about time out how long a movie will be released from the time of a character’s death – and lo and behold, The Marvels is just about six months away with an early November release date in North America.
Indeed, Marvel killed off Doctor Strange before his movie came out, and Scarlet Witch died during the Hellfire Gala before she got the starring role in Doctor Strange 2.
It was pointed out by many people that Kamala Khan had her own well-regarded show on Disney+, and will be the co-star of The Marvels, a major motion picture coming out for Thanksgiving, and starring Iman Vellani, Brie Larson and Teyonah Parris as Ms Marvel, Captain Marvel and Monica Rambeau. Ms Marvel can even be seen in the poster.
Additionally, Zeb Wells, who wrote Amazing Spider-Man #26, also co-wrote…The Marvels, along with Nia DaCosta, Elissa Karasik and Megan McDonnell.
Kamala Khan’s co-creator G. Willow Wilson is among the creators on the FALLEN FRIEND: THE DEATH OF MS. MARVEL #1 one shot, as are Saladin Ahmed and Mark Waid, who also wrote significant portions of Ms. Marvel’s comics adventures, so they had to in some sense, approve of the death.
In other words…it’s all a bit unlikely that Kamala Khan is gone for good. In fact, it’s downright not gonna happen. That doesn’t make her death in the service of a Peter Parker storyline less objectionable to those who were upset, or killing a beloved character who broke all kinds of barriers as a young Muslim woman less tasteless. But…I hope no one is losing too much sleep over it when there are more pressing troubles in the world.
As for the why and how of her death and presumed resurrection. Well you see, in the comics, Kamala Khan was an Inhuman and got her powers from sniffing a Terrigen mist. But on the TV show, Kamala Khan was a mutant. As we know, even if we’re sick of the MCU, the mutant part of it is going to get a big relaunch soon enough, as the MCU gets the rights to the X-Men and their sprawling mythology.
The guess, as stated on many websites, is that Kamala will be taken to Krakoa, an island that holds a special place in mutant hearts for its “resurrection protocols” that allowed “heroes to respawn in the middle of battle, revived long-dead X-Men, and helped restore the decimated mutant population.” Convenient!
I mean it’s all practically spelled out: Kamala will come back in the comics as a mutant to align with the MCU version. It also position her well to continue with the general rise of the Mutants in the MCU after her starring role in (I repeat) Marvel’s big holiday movie release.
ALSO: You may all think I’m obsessed with Ike Perlmutter, but you’ll recall that his fixation on replacing the Fox-owned X-Men with the Marvel-owned Inhumans spurred a lot of comics and TV development back in the day. This switch for Ms. Marvel also has the effect of stamping out one more little bit of Ike Mythology (although the storyline seems to have been planned long before Perlmutter’s dramatic ousting from Disney.)
While this all falls into line very well, to be honest, my biggest question about this hoopla is: who leaked the death of Kamala Khan?
Marvel’s August solicitations appear to have been leaked to a comics website earlier this week, which included a “CLASSIFIED” mini series. The death of a major Spider-Man character had been teased for #26 for literally MONTHS, with heavy foreshadowing that it would be Mary Jane who bit the dust, in a nod to the first great superhero death, Gwen Stacy.
However earlier this morning, someone on Reddit leaked it. The earliest I could find was a post on a Spider-man comics reddit by a normal user who didn’t even bother to hide their name, so I doubt this was the source. What was notable about the leak, wherever it came from, was the shockingly blurry photo that revealed the death.
I’ll admit, when I first heard that the death had been leaked, I wondered if the leak had come from Marvel itself. It seemed like a pretty great way to get some publicity and indeed, more people are talking about Ms. Marvel than had been previously!
My idea that it was a planned leak began to fade after several Marvel editors went on Twitter to beg people to stay off the internet if they didn’t want to be spoiled. And then, deciding that both the cat and the bag it got out of were actually in fine shape, Marvel leaned into it with an “official” story on EW, and a press release about the FALLEN FRIEND one shot. Swift, effective action and tons of publicity. Advance copies would have gone out in a week anyway, and the story would have leaked before then, or been announced in advance, but the result was the same.
I guess we’ll never know what really happened but I keep coming back to that blurry photo. You know, we have really good phones now that take excellent photos. Was someone pulling the comic away so quickly that only this shot with the vibe of a Bigfoot sighting was all they could get? Did the leaker post a shit photo to avoid…spoiling the comic? Or could it be some kind of a false flag operation? I guess I’m overthinking it in an age of overthinking.
Two last notes on the matter: online discourse that centered on the tackiness of killing Kamala Khan turned into nostalgia for the “Axel Alonso era” that gave us “Kamala Khan, Ironheart, Miles Morales, Squirrel Girl and Moon Girl” among others (America Chavez). This was indeed a fertile time for new characters who have made their park in pop culture: Miles Morales is the star of one of the most loved superhero films of all times and is coming back to the screen in a few weeks. Ironheart was in Black Panther 2, Chavez was in Dr. Strange. Moon Girl has her own TV show, as did Kamala and I think I saw a Squirrel Girl carton once.
In the comics, it’s a different story, though. Ms. Marvel hadn’t had her own title for a while, and others have languished since the Teens. Why can’t Marvel sell more comics that tie in with the MCU? That’s an even bigger mystery (though solvable) than that blurry Reddit photo….and one I shall return to one of these days.