June 3, 2023

Image: Kaare Andrews/Marvel Comics

Image: Kaare Andrews/Marvel Comics

These days, comic leaks are unavoidable – whether it’s a controlled media release ahead of time or the sheer logistics of getting books into the hands of retailers and readers, it’s rare for a big two comic’s headlines to make their way to release unrevealed. But an unprecedented early shock leak from Marvel has sent the comics internet into a frenzy.

Earlier today, what appear to be the last pages of Awesome Spider-Man #26, the next issue from Zeb Wells/Jon Romita Jr. runs on Marvel’s flagship Spider-Man book (due out in two weeks on May 31) on social media. While the images are of relatively low quality – and some dialogue in the speech bubbles has been blurred out to remove context – together they reveal that Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, will die in the arms of Peter in the current arc of the story Parker.

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Death is rarely shocking, nor is it permanent in comics at this point – there’s a reason that despite all the rousing headlines a biting big-name character generates, the passage of time and superhero logic often means deaths , especially the big heroic ones, are much more likely to be destroyed. Especially in the current world of Marvel Comics, where Mutantkind has not only learned how to cheat death through resurrection protocols, but now, after that information was publicly revealed, offers that power to the disenfranchised of the entire world, Mutant or otherwise. But the seemingly out of the blue killing of Kamala Khan is what left readers particularly shocked and enraged.

Even aside from Kamala’s massive popularity — she’s arguably the most successful new character Marvel Comics has created in the 21st century — her mainstream awareness is greater than ever thanks to the character’s transition into the world of the MCU, with Iman Vellani’s portrayal from Kamala. in the Mrs. Marvel Disney+ show and upcoming team-up movie, The miracles. Killing her off at a time when an audience larger than the mainstream comic-reading public is interested in the character feels like a rather weird move from a marketing point of view, especially when that interest likely means that Kamala’s death will be undone relatively quickly.

There’s also the much darker optics of killing off Kamala – Marvel’s most prominent South Asian character; alongside that of Miles Morales, his teenage getaway character; and of course a young woman – as part of Awesome Spider-Man, to advance Peter Parker’s story. Optics made all the more messy Awesome Spider-Man #26 comes out May 31, at the height of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Killing off such a prominent and influential representative character, even temporarily – let alone not as part of a publisher-wide event or even in her own comic, but instead a book where she is a rare supporting guest character – is a move that is just as likely to cause fans to react angrily as it is to draw attention through shock.

And that attention is seemingly exactly what Marvel wants to court, positivity or negativity be damned. As angry fans reacted to the leak on social media today — whether bigots indulged in sexist and racist celebrations — Marvel took the unprecedented step of formally addressing the leak. In a short tweet with an animated image of Awesome Spider-Man On the cover of issue #26, the company simply said: “Awesome Spider-Man #26 spoilers are online. Avoid the internet (or not) at your peril.”

Hours later, Marvel formally acknowledged the explicit details and revealed that Kamala’s death will be covered in a sequel one-off called Fallen Friend: The Death of Ms. Marvel– via a “controlled” press release on Entertainment Weekly, of course.

On the one hand, a casual approach to the inevitability of major plot leaks is almost refreshing. On the other hand, as mentioned before, a leak of this magnitude and potential for controversy is so far before publication – and seemingly just a copy in someone’s hands, rather than a controlled media exclusive or of the number being sent to retailers. sent – is arguably more shocking than the “shock” of the death itself. Even if Marvel is probably still internally trying to figure out how this leak originated, it’s dealing with it from a public presenting standpoint, especially in the wake of a significantly hurt response to the news (“Awesome Spider-Man” And “Mrs. Marvel‘ have been trending on Twitter for most of the day), if a casual ‘see it for yourself or not’ just feels like foreign.

That said, there’s clearly a lot of context missing in the circumstances surrounding this moment Awesome Spider-Mancurrent story. We don’t know how or why Kamala dies, and we don’t know what the impact is, but we can make a good estimate of how and when she will return. In a world where mutants have cheated death – and where on screens big and small Kamala is no longer an Inhuman as she is in the comics, but a mutant with similar but still very different powers – there’s a distinct possibility that Krakoa isn’t alone will provide the path to Kamala’s return, but perhaps even more controversially provides a path to retooling the comic book character for her edit. At least on that front, it’s worth noting that the Krakoan Resurrection just hasn’t worked that way so far, whether used on mutants or otherwise (at most it’s enhanced a mutant’s already established abilities , not radically overhauled, but!A conversation And controversy for another time).

The thing is, we don’t currently know anything about the specific direction of this plot point beyond Kamala’s apparent death. We’ll have to wait and see, as we probably won’t get the full story on May 31 either, but either way, Marvel is about to really test whether any publicity is really good publicity.

Want more io9 news? See when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars and Star Trek releases, the future of the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor who.

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