Marvel has confirmed the details of an apparent leak of spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man #26 - the death of Kamala Khan - which were first posted on Reddit, and later acknowledged by Marvel in a warning to fans not to stumble across the spoilers.
Marvel broke the news in an email containing the now revealed cover for July's Fallen Friend #1 by Kaare Andrews, which itself spoils Kamala's death along with the page which was itself leaked, both seen below.
Along with confirmation of the details of the leak, Marvel has announced that Kamala Khan's co-creator G. Willow Wilson will return as one of the writers of the Fallen Friend one-shot, which is co-written by Saladin Ahmed and Mark Waid, with art from Humberto Ramos, Takeshi Miyazawa, and Andrea Di Vito.
More details follow.
The page shows an unconscious Kamala Khan slumped over in Peter Parker's arms, with Norman Osborn, the Fantastic Four, and Mary Jane and her boyfriend Paul all around them in tears - which Marvel has officially confirmed depicts the death of Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan.
But… Why kill off Kamala Khan in a Spider-Man comic?
Maybe that's a silly question, given that superheroes are killed and reborn on a regular basis - some even dying multiple times in a single story or issue. But in this case, why is Kamala Khan's death the big, shocking moment of a Spider-Man story in which she's been a bit player at best?
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. So that's the pragmatic part of the question possibly answered.
But that doesn't address why Kamala Khan, herself an MCU headliner with multiple longrunning solo titles of her own under her belt, is dying in a Spider-Man story that has barely included her. That feels like doing a disservice to Kamala as a character in service of another "shocking" moment in Peter Parker's arsenal of life-altering traumas, and a potential ratings bump when they bring her back down the road.
That's the cynical view, at least. A brutal interpretation, but I think a fair one given the way it appears Marvel has seemingly been capitalizing on her impending death as a marketing tool for Spider-Man since earlier this year.
Kamala isn't a total stranger to the title - she's been a supporting character in a background role as an intern as OsCorp since the current volume of Amazing Spider-Man launched, and even had her own limited series tie-in to the recent Spider-Man/X-Men: Dark Web crossover.
However, the current story has focused on the relationship between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, and how it was destroyed by the servant of a dark god who sent MJ to a pocket dimension where she spent four years away from Peter. You know, the usual cosmic forces that seem to hate their relationship.
So killing Kamala Khan as the big climax of that story, which has actually been heavily foreshadowing the death of MJ or perhaps her new partner Paul, seems like an opportunistic bait-and-switch.
There's also something to be said about a young woman of color, whose unique identity and place in the Marvel Universe have been consistently included in her stories and as a factor in her success, dying in service of a shocking surprise for an older white man.
It's not a great look, to say the least. And it's also an indication of just how threadbare the premise of forcibly finding ways to remove headlining characters from publication just to bring them back in time for their movie has become. If it takes putting Kamala Khan in Spider-Man to make her a credible enough supporting character to later kill, that feels like a jump-the-shark moment in pursuit of the marketing trope.
With Kamala Khan's death in Amazing Spider-Man #26, the question of "What did Spider-Man do?" which has driven so much of the current volume of the series will take on a dire new meaning.
Amazing Spider-Man #26 goes on sale May 31.
Stay up to date on all the new Spider-Man comics Marvel has planned for release.