Marvel teased readers that Amazing Spider-Man #26 would be the most shocking issue of the title in 50 years. Now that Amazing Spider-Man #26 is here, did it deliver? The comic features the climactic battle between Spider-Man and Rabin, as Mary Jane’s life hangs in the balance. Thanks to some unfortunate leaks (and then Marvel announcing the spoilers as a result), the death of Ms. Marvel was already spoiled prior to release. But now that that issue has arrived, how does Ms. Marvel die? And does the ‘most shocking issue of Amazing Spider-Man in 50 years’ contain any other surprises? Let’s dive in.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Amazing Spider-Man #26!
How did Ms. Marvel die in Amazing Spider-Man #26?
Amazing Spider-Man #26 (written by Zeb Wells and penciled by John Romita Jr.) concluded the Rabin storyline which began in Amazing Spider-Man #21. Rabin is a mystical villain who channels his powers from the Mayan god Wayeb. As the storyline progressed, Rabin began to target Mary Jane Watson, believing that the death of ‘the Scarlet Woman’ would complete an ancient ritual. As the issue begins, Rabin’s hunt for Mary Jane is in full swing.
Spider-Man is joined by the Fantastic Four, Gold Goblin, and Ms. Marvel for the final battle. Mary Jane tries to use her new jackpot powers to fight off Rabin, but they prove ineffective. Spider-Man tasks Ms. Marvel with protecting Mary Jane. “If he gets his hands on Mary Jane, the entire world is his. You can’t let that happen,” Spidey tells Ms. Marvel.
Kamala takes the task to heart and works to get Mary Jane as far away from Rabin as possible. Realizing that Rabin is still gaining on them, Kamala tells Mary Jane to split up while she distracts the villain. As Mary Jane continues running down an alley, she finds herself face-to-face with Rabin. “Alone again sacrifice,” Rabin says. “That’s fine with me. Let’s do this,” Mary Jane replies.
Rabin then surprises Mary Jane by using his powers to impale her from behind. Rabin believes the ceremony is complete, but the Mayan god Wayeb accuses him of desecrating the ceremony. For his blasphemy, Wayeb disintegrates Rabin, ending the villain’s threat once and for all. What went wrong with the ceremony? It turns out that he hadn’t impaled the real Mary Jane.
Ms. Marvel had used her shapeshifting powers to transform into Mary Jane after the two of them had split up. Kamala used herself as a decoy, allowing the real Mary Jane to get away. Spider-Man holds Kamala as the heroine slowly dies. She removes her mask, revealing her identity to the other heroes. Peter and Norman Osborn are surprised to recognize Kamala Khan, an intern that had been working with them at Oscorp.
“Kamala, you…you did great. You did so good,” Peter tells her. “I’m glad. Cus good is..is not a thing you are, it’s a thing you...you..,” Kamala weakly replies. Unfortunately, the heroine never gets a chance to finish her thought. The scene ends with Kamala passing away in Spider-Man’s arms, as Gold Goblin, the Fantastic Four, Mary Jane, and Paul look on in sadness.
Spoilers and leaks
Marvel made a great effort to hype Amazing Spider-Man #26 as "the most shocking issue of Amazing Spider-Man in 50 years," but by the time the issue was released, everyone already knew the ending. What happened?
Prior to release, Marvel seemed to want fans to believe that Mary Jane Watson would die. Zeb Wells made cryptic comments during the C2E2 Spider-Man panel, and Marvel kept on alluding to Amazing Spider-Man #121 (1973), which featured the death of Gwen Stacy. Amazing Spider-Man #25 also contained a few red herrings which didn’t look good for Mary Jane.
However, things took a turn on May 16 when pages from Amazing Spider-Man #26 began to leak online. The pages showed Ms. Marvel dying in Spider-Man’s arms. Amazing Spider-Man editor Nick Lowe warned fans to watch out for spoilers, and official Marvel's offical Twitter feed made a similar warning. Hours later, Marvel spoiled the issue themselves, with an article from the outlet Entertainment Weekly.
According to Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort, this shift in strategy occurred because of the leaks. “In this instance, we had coverage all set with Entertainment Weekly that was slated to be dropped when the issue came out. The negotiation for that coverage guaranteed them the exclusive to the story. So when somebody took a few blurry photos with their phone and posted them publicly weeks ahead of tie, we were put into a corner,” Brevoort wrote in his ‘Man With A Hat’ newsletter. Essentially, Marvel allowed Entertainment Weekly to publish their story early so they wouldn’t lose their promised exclusive.
It's interesting to note that Marvel wanted this to be the most shocking issue of Amazing Spider-Man in 50 years, but their plan was sabotaged by internet spoilers. In the age of internet chatter and publishers hungry for publicity, is it possible to surprise fans the way that Marvel did in 1973 when they killed Gwen Stacy? If Kamala’s death is any indication, then probably not.
Were there any other surprises in Amazing Spider-Man #26?
Kamala Khan’s death wasn’t the only surprise to come from Amazing Spider-Man #26. The issue also featured some revelations about Mary Jane’s partner Paul, and the nature of their two kids. While these reveals aren’t as shocking as the death of Ms. Marvel, they do have major ramifications for Spider-Man and Mary Jane’s future.
Paul was introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #1 (2022) as Mary Jane’s current romantic partner. Some recap pages have referred to him as Mary Jane’s husband, but their marital status hasn’t been clarified by the comics. As Wells run progressed, it was revealed that Paul came from another dimension which had been destroyed by Rabin. Paul and Mary Jane spent years trapped in that dimension, hiding from the villain. During that time, they became romantically involved. Despite being an important supporting character in Wells’ Amazing Spider-Man run, Paul was never given a last name. It turns out there was a reason for this.
The issue contains a flashback where Peter angrily confronts Paul, demanding to know his true origin. Paul reveals that his full name is Paul Jeremiah Rabin, and he’s the son of Rabin. “I trusted him! Helped him do his work…not knowing what he really wanted. And by the time I found out it was too late! There was no one in my world to save the day,” Paul revealed.
To Peter’s surprise, Mary Jane had been aware of this the entire time. However, that wasn’t the only revelation. Paul and Mary Jane have been raising two kids named Owen and Stephanie, who they found in Rabin’s alternate Earth. Mary Jane has grown attached to the kids and has come to see herself as their mother. Unfortunately, it all turned out to be a lie.
During a villainous monologue, Rabin reveals that the kids were mystical constructs he had created to bind himself to Mary Jane. Believing that the kids had served their purpose, Rabin causes them to fade away. Across town, Owen and Stephanie tightly hug Paul before they fade into nothingness.
Mary Jane Watson now has something in common with Wanda Maximoff. Both of them raised kids who turned out to be magical constructs. Let’s hope Mary Jane handles this a lot better than Wanda did.
What’s next for Kamala Khan?
In the Marvel Universe, death is never the end. Just ask characters like Bucky Barnes, the Human Torch, Captain America, and Jean Grey. Don’t forget, Amazing Spider-Man #26 tries to evoke Amazing Spider-Man #121 (1973) with its cover, and the hype surrounding it ("the most shocking issue of Spider-Man in 50 years"). That issue featured the death of Gwen Stacy, who still enjoys a healthy career. Although the main version of Gwen remains dead, the character has lived on through numerous variants, such as Ghost-Spider.
It might take one year, or it might take a decade, but Kamala Khan will probably be back. In fact, the heroine is set to star in The Marvels, the MCU’s next theatrical release. The film premieres on November 10, and will feature Iman Vellani reprising her role as Kamala Khan, which she originated in the Disney+ series Ms. Marvel. It’s worth noting that The Marvels was co-written by Zeb Wells, the writer for Amazing Spider-Man #26. Whether that’s a coincidence or part of a larger corporate strategy remains to be seen.
The impact of Kamala’s death will be explored in Fallen Friend: The Death of Ms. Marvel #1, a one-shot which will be published on July 12. The issue will feature a story from Kamala’s co-creator G. Willow Wilson, along with Saladin Ahmed and Mark Waid.