The saga behind Ms. Marvel’s death and return continues to get even stranger. In the past few months Marvel has killed Kamala Khan, ignored her death, quickly revived her, and then retconned her death completely. It’s an understatement to say that this storyline has been an odd affair. Guess what, it just got even stranger. Over in the letter pages for Amazing Spider-Man #32 (written by Zeb Wells and penciled by Patrick Gleason), editor Nick Lowe revealed why Marvel killed Kamala. His explanation was interesting.
A brief timeline on Ms. Marvel’s death and return
Before we dive into Lowe’s explanation, let’s briefly recap the odd events that led us here.
- February 24, 2023 – Marvel teases Amazing Spider-Man #26 as the most shocking issue of the title in 50 years. The cover and the reference to 50 years evoke the Death of Gwen Stacy from Amazing Spider-Man #121 (1973). Readers begin to speculate that a character may die.
- March 30, 2023 – Marvel holds a Spider-Man and Venom panel at C2E2. During the panel Lowe and Wells repeat the claim that it’s the most shocking issue in 50 years, and hint that Mary Jane Watson might die.
- April 18, 2023 – In an exclusive interview with Popverse, Zeb Wells teases Amazing Spider-Man #26. “I can tease that many people will be very mad at me. I can tease that Nick (Lowe) told me not to do any comic conventions after this issue comes out (laughs). People will be upset.”
- May 16, 2023 – The final pages of Amazing Spider-Man #26 leak online, revealing Kamala’s death. Marvel’s social accounts warn fans to avoid the spoilers. A few hours later, Ms. Marvel’s death is officially confirmed in an Entertainment Weekly article. Marvel editor Tom Brevoort would go on to explain that EW had an exclusive on the story. After the leaks surfaced, Marvel allowed EW to publish their story early in order to honor the exclusive agreement.
- May 31, 2023 – Amazing Spider-Man #26 is published. Kamala Khan dies while fighting the villain Rabin. She uses herself as a decoy to help Mary Jane Watson escape. Some readers note that the story seems cynical, with Kamala dying in another character’s book. It doesn’t help that the press release calls her a “supporting character.”
- June 2023 – Throughout the month, Marvel publishes a series of titles that ignore Kamala’s death. Amazing Spider-Man and X-Men are the only two titles to address it. Captain Marvel #50 features Carol Danvers grieving another character.
- July 14, 2023 – Less than two months after her death, Marvel announces Kamala Khan’s resurrection. The character will star in Ms. Marvel: The New Mutant, written by Sabir Pirzada and Iman Vellani (who plays the character in the MCU).
- July 26, 2023 – The X-Men use their Krakoan resurrection ritual to bring Kamala Khan back to life Hellfire Gala 2023 #1. The character learns that she is a mutant. This revelation matches her MCU counterpart.
- August 2, 2023 – In the pages of X-Men #25, Emma Frost uses her psychic powers to make the entire world forget Ms. Marvel’s death. This is an odd development for a storyline that was being hyped as “the biggest in 50 years” mere months ago.
Marvel explains why they really killed Kamala Khan
The letter pages in Amazing Spider-Man #32 featured readers responding to the events of Amazing Spider-Man #26. Editor Nick Lowe responded to their letters, and revealed how Ms. Marvel’s death came to be. “As for whether it was ‘cheap’ or not…We’ve been dealing with the fallout in the issues since, which speak for themselves character and story-wise, but I’ll give you a peek behind the curtain for some of the more meta elements,” Lowe wrote.
“As we were planning out Kamala’s story, the opportunity to take advantage of Krakoan rebirth presented itself. We wanted to make sure that we put the biggest spotlight on Kamala’s journey that we could, which is ASM. We had already brought Kamala into the series by then, so it seemed perfect. I still stand by the story in ASM #26. Kamala is a superhero. She showed up to a giant super-villain fight and got involved, which is what a hero does,” Lowe continued.
“She risked everything to save a life, which is what a hero does. It cost Kamala her life. Was she the central focus of the book or the story? Nope. But honestly, to me, that’s also life. Things happen that don’t go the way stories ‘should’ go. But what Kamala did was completely in character on the biggest stage in comics, getting more people talking about her than had in years.”
Unpacking Lowe’s statement
Essentially, Lowe revealed that Ms. Marvel joining the X-Men and getting a new title was planned prior to her death. In order to maximize the attention to this new title, Marvel decided to kill her off. Yes, Kamala Khan’s brief death was pitched to sell her new series. This revelation is not shocking, we cynically suspected as much. However, Lowe’s statement feels like he’s saying the quiet part out loud. Yes, character deaths are meant to bring more attention to a comic, but as a fandom we like to at least go through the pretense of pretending this is all for artistic purposes.
Speaking strictly for myself, I don’t necessarily agree with how Lowe addressed Kamala not being the central figure in her own death story. While this is true to life, this is a comic book where creators can choose how the stories for characters develop. The context matters too, because Kamala is one of the only Muslim-American superheroes in comics.
For that reason, making her a supporting player in her own death story seems wrong. Plus, Emma Frost erasing the world’s memory seems to cheapen the whole affair. Between the nature of her quick return, erasing the world’s memory, and Lowe’s statement, it seems like every new development just makes Kamala’s death and return a bigger quagmire.
I’m hoping the new series breathes new life into the character, and I’m excited to see where Iman Vellani takes her. If it’s a fun direction, it might make this entire affair seem worthwhile.