It's no secret that Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel dies in May 31's Amazing Spider-Man #26 - the death was spoiled by Marvel earlier in May after scans of the page leaked online. But Ms. Marvel's death, which caused a contentious reaction from fans, is far from the only controversial aspect of Amazing Spider-Man #26.
From the way Kamala Khan's death goes down to the other long-running plot points resolved in the issue, there's a lot going on - and quite a bit of it is sure to raise a few eyebrows.
Spoilers ahead for Amazing Spider-Man #26
Amazing Spider-Man #26 by writer Zeb Wells, penciler John Romita Jr., inker Mark Morales, colorists Marcio Menyz and Erick Arciniega, and letterer Joe Caramagna, focuses on the resolution of the story that's been brewing since the current volume of the title launched, that being why Peter is on the outs with his friends and why Mary Jane Watson is dating a guy named Paul instead of Peter.
As previously established, MJ and Paul fell in love while they were trapped in an alternate reality where time moves differently, spending four years on the run while raising two children they found orphaned in the wasteland, though only a little while passed in the core reality.
To save them, Peter stole equipment from the Avengers and Fantastic Four, working with Norman Osborn to build the machine he needed to enter this alt-reality. But thanks to the difference in the passage of time between the two worlds, Peter shows up too late and MJ and Paul have fallen in love.
ASM #26 brings the story up to the present day where Rabin, the villain who initially trapped MJ and Paul in the alt-reality, makes it back to the core Marvel Universe, planning to kill MJ to complete a ritual meant to give him godlike power.
Here's where things get really weird - and we haven't even gotten close to the death of Kamala Khan yet.
It's revealed that Paul is actually the son of Rabin from the alternate universe. He killed his father and stabs this version of Rabin (in Amazing Spider-Man #25). The villain is still very much a threat, however, and he reveals that the two children MJ and Paul have been caring for are in fact simply magical conjurations meant to tie them to his ritual.
Yes, that's almost exactly the same story as Wanda Maximoff's children, who were creations of the demon Mephisto used to manipulate her. And just like in Wanda's case, MJ and Paul's adopted children disappear as soon as Rabin has no more use for them.
The Wanda comparisons don't stop there either, as the villain begins calling MJ the "Scarlet Woman" - a real world occult term meant to represent a woman who will bring about the end of the world. The strange twist of MJ and Paul's adopted kids straight up disappearing is remarkably similar to the story of the Scarlet Witch, so drawing more attention to that by calling MJ a "Scarlet Woman" is especially odd.
With the full-on death of their reality at stake if MJ is killed, Peter orders Kamala to protect her at all costs. And this is where things get grim for the young Ms. Marvel. Though we're skipping quite a bit, the TL:DR is that Peter and MJ lead Rabin on a fateful chase where, just as it seems they've managed to escape, the villain appears and stabs MJ with his ritual dagger, seemingly killing her and completing his ritual.
But something is wrong - instead of attaining the power of the death god Wayep, Rabin is instead consumed by Wayep's power. Because, as it turns out, he didn't stab MJ at all. Instead, he stabbed Kamala Khan, who used her lesser-known shapeshifting ability to take on MJ's appearance, tricking Rabin.
The fake-out extends not just to Rabin, but to all the characters on the page, who first believe Mary Jane has been killed. But as Peter cradles her lifeless body, the real MJ arrives just in time to see Kamala revert back to her normal form as Ms. Marvel. And as it's revealed who actually died, all the characters mourn in silence.
It's a very strange moment - the MJ fake out was clearly meant to have a lot more impact in the story before the surprise reveal of Kamala's death. That raises even more questions about the real value of killing Kamala Khan in a Spider-Man comic, making it clear that her death is meant to further the story of Peter and MJ while also providing some relief to readers who feared Mary Jane would actually perish.
But that leaves Kamala and her own story in the lurch. There's plenty of speculation about why Marvel has chosen to kill Kamala now, from the potential of timing her return to the release of the upcoming film The Marvels in which she has a starring role, to theories that she may be resurrected on Krakoa, somehow turning her into a mutant rather than an Inhuman in order to bring her comic origins in line with with her MCU backstory.
Whether any of that comes to pass remains to be seen, but it's extremely unlikely Kamala will stay dead for long - especially with her aforementioned movie scheduled to arrive just about six months from now.
In the meantime, Amazing Spider-Man #27 goes on sale June 14.
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