This week’s Marvel Rundown features Comics Beat’s own Cy Beltran, Avery Kaplan, and Rebecca Oliver Kaplan in a roundtable discussion on Amazing Spider-Man #26. This conversation includes plenty of SPOILERS for ASM #26, so if you’d like to avoid that, click out now.
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Amazing Spider-Man #26
Writer: Zeb Wells
Penciler: John Romita Jr.
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colorists: Marcio Menyz & Erick Arciniega
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
This week’s issue of Amazing Spider-Man features the shocking sacrifice we all had spoiled on social media a few weeks ago: the death of Kamala Khan.
Are you now (or have you ever been) current on Amazing Spider-Man?
Cy Beltran: Aside from a brief break toward the end of Nick Spencer’s run, I’ve been reading ASM continuously since late 2012/early 2013, which includes Superior Spider-Man and the original Renew Your Vows mini that took its place during 2015’s Secret Wars.
Avery Kaplan: I was briefly current on Ultimate Spider-Man, but I don’t think I’ve ever been current on Amazing Spider-Man. I did keep up with the TPB releases for Superior Spider-Man. I was keeping up with the Spider-Man: Beyond run but did not follow that into the ASM reboot… Personally, I think my best-ever ASM reading experience has probably been The Amazing Spider-Man Penguin Marvel Classics hardcover, containing a selection of the first issues of the series by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (and including some of the letters pages).
Cy: I missed the peak of Ultimate Spider-Man, that would’ve been a blast to check out, though I did catch up on Miles Morales and Jessica Drew post-Secret Wars… always been a fan of the various Spider-People!
Rebecca Oliver Kaplan: No, never. I do like all the variants though. Spider-ma’am 4Ever! I am current on Jessica Drew.
What are your thoughts on ASM #26 overall?
Rebecca Oliver: Speaking of pregnancies… and superheroes with babies… I did not like that they Darker than Scarlet’d MJ’s babies. It took away from the main death in the issue, and it felt like lazy storytelling.
Cy: I agree with how rough that was, especially with how the last issue gave them what felt like a meaningful backstory/connection to Mary Jane (and Paul too, I guess).
Rebecca Oliver: “Peter, Paul, and Mary.” — I just got that. I also think the last time Marvel did a miscarriage for MJ that it was kinda sloppy, so it would have been nice for her story to have that amended. (ASM #75? I have to double-check).
Cy: That’s a great point. I thought that’s where the story was going to go, but it was still completely out of left field to see them get written out of the story as quickly as they were.
Rebecca Oliver: I went on an internet deep dive of Marvel pregnancies, baby deaths, and how the mom responded and was not impressed. Invisible Woman (want to read this one, but seems like she becomes a villain after a miscarriage), there are the Spider-Woman complaints, Scarlet Witch (don’t get me started on the comics, still happy with Doctor Strange 2), and CAPTAIN MARVEL OH BOY that’s bad.
Avery: It was an odd experience to come into this storyline basically just for a supporting character’s death. While context clues seem sufficient to catch the broad strokes, I did wonder what additional information I may have been missing about that storyline. The magic dragon fight was some decent superhero action for the Fantastic Four, but it felt a little hard to enjoy because the death of Kamala overshadowed almost everything else for me.
Cy: I agree, Avery. If I was coming into this without any context, I’m not sure this would have made any sense whatsoever. The arc was already picking up on a story from over ten years ago, which was fun at first, but for such a big deal, this issue didn’t feel accessible at all. Too much of this relies on what was already told.
I usually enjoy Wells’ writing, but this felt rushed to the point where the story suffered a lot. This arc had been fun, but the conclusion dropped the ball tremendously. The MJ misdirect was a twist that made sense for the cast of this series, but Ms. Marvel’s use throughout this volume has felt secondary at best, even during Dark Web.
What is your reaction to the death of Kamala Khan in ASM #26?
Rebecca Oliver: Why? is my first reaction. I am fine with character death and hero’s journeys. But that works better when its one of the white male characters (e.g., Doctor Strange) who is dying among a sea of other white male characters. It’s a bad look when you have one major South Asian hero, and you kill her.
Cy: Every time these characters die, it usually tends to serve a larger story or arc for that character, but with Kamala, it feels like it’s set up to serve Peter’s story and that’s it. She’s barely been a supporting character here in the first place, so while I have my guesses as to why she was the character chosen to die, this doesn’t make a lot of sense from a story sense. Especially with ROK’s point that she’s Marvel’s biggest South Asian hero, killed off at the tail end of AAPI Heritage Month.
Rebecca Oliver: I agree that I didn’t like that it was done in Spider-Man’s book. I don’t want to read about it in a couple of months in G. Willow Wilson‘s book. I would have rather the death happened there in the first place if it was going to happen.
Avery: I wasn’t a fan of this plot development, even though I assume (like so many other Marvel Comics heroes before her), death will be a temporary situation for her. I suspect the theories that she’ll be resurrected on Krakoa as a mutant (so as to more closely align with her MCU counterpart) are accurate. But after reading the issue I just can’t help but ask myself a thousand What If…?s. What If… Kamala had died in her own ongoing series? What if… they could have rebooted the character as a mutant without having to do this whole “she’s dead” thing?
Rebecca Oliver: I was typing something similar, Avery. I feel this is more about getting the whole Marvel brand into continuity — kind of like making her an inhuman was in the first place. Now, it has to be retconned since she has “mutated genes” in the MCU. I really liked the Inhuman line that was coming out during the Alonso era, so that all makes me sad. I was hoping for a Mosiac revival.
Cy: I’m still shocked that there isn’t a Kamala Khan ongoing running right now… to have her be such a popular character and not headline a book feels wrong. It sure sounds like she’ll get some sort of a title after whatever happens to her in the upcoming one-shot, but I still would’ve had this centered around her, rather than whatever is happening to Pete.
Avery: Agreed. I am on record here at The Beat (repeatedly) calling for her to be given an ongoing book. I have enjoyed her limited runs – I think Beyond the Limit was very good – but she’s long past overdue to headline her own ongoing again.
What are your thoughts on the convention of character resurrection?
Avery: I’m not outright against it. I think it can be used to tell very interesting stories, as with A.X.E.: Judgment Day or pretty much anyone who visits The Black Mountain on Star Trek. But when executed poorly, it can make death seem like a low-stakes and/or wholly trivial narrative development. And with Ms. Marvel’s death just before she’s slated to co-headline the next MCU movie… Let’s just say I’m getting more of a “John Snow” vibe than a “Mr. Spock” vibe, you know?
Cy: I’ve never minded the character resurrection, but I definitely believe it’s played out to the point where it doesn’t have the same effect anymore. Deaths like the death of Captain Marvel and the first death of Jean Grey had a profound impact (albeit briefly), but we’re at the point where it doesn’t feel like it has any use to it. We also live in a time (I feel) when the Krakoan Era has taken the next step in the natural evolution of this device by completely negating its overall impact. So I don’t think this is going to stick around for too long, if at all.
Rebecca Oliver: Scarlet Witch is like the Alanis Morrisette version of G-d from Dogma. She created heaven and hell but in less than seven days. And she can bring people back to life.
Avery: So you’re saying she’s bigger than Jesus?
Rebecca Oliver: Yes.
Do you have thoughts on the previously announced (and further confirmed by this issue) Fallen Friend: The Death of Ms. Marvel #1?
Cy: I mean, it’s great that G. Willow Wilson is coming back to write part of the issue, but I’m not sure what the point is going to be if the issue ends with the return of Ms. Marvel. This storyline feels abrupt, and the quick release of this one-shot (and whatever the Classified mini will be when it’s announced in the Fallen Friend one-shot) seems to negate the impact of her death.
Avery: I’m glad Wilson is participating but I’m a little surprised and disappointed that Sana Amanat doesn’t appear on the list of included creators.
Cy: It also sounds like there’s a Champions story from Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos, but it would’ve been great to see some Champions or even Miles Morales present for this issue we’re already reading.
Rebecca Oliver: There aren’t any arcs right now. I don’t feel satisfied. They are so focused on new readers that I am bored.
Cy: I’d love to see a Champions return eventually, I remember really enjoying that when it first launched.
Is there a particular Marvel Comics character death that stands out to you?
Avery: While it’s connected to the death of Wolverine, it isn’t Logan, specifically. It’s that reaction Deadpool had where, like a month after Wolverine’s death, he started asking other characters if Wolverine was “back yet.” Marvel Comics death is summed up perfectly by the Merc with a Mouth.
Cy: Haha, that’s a great example. The recent death of Magneto sticks in my mind as a moment that felt both earned and a huge turning point for the cast of characters he interacted with.
Rebecca Oliver: Ebony in Tom King‘s The Vision. I’m still angry about that death. A witch would not kill her familiar like that and using an animal death as character development is a lazy trope.
Cy: I was also fully behind Aunt May’s death back in the Clone Saga. I love her, but that was such a well-written story that I was pretty annoyed when she was brought back in the early aughts.
Rebecca Oliver: One panel that I always remember is House of M: “Here lies Professor X.”
Cy: I loved the mystery in that.
Avery: Shout-out to The Vision for having the most gruesome “death” possible for an android in West Coast Avengers “Vision Quest” arc.
Rebecca Oliver: And to WandaVision for recreating it.
Are there any other thoughts about this ASM #26 you want to share?
Avery: When the letters column opens with “and just like that”… is that a Sex in the City reference? I googled the phrase and couldn’t come up with any further explanation.
Rebecca Oliver: I liked the less photo-real art style.
Cy: Though the story wasn’t my favorite, I think the art was killer. Even though he’s been on and off the book for ages, I will never not be a massive fan of JRJR’s art. His work on this most recent volume has felt just as great as it’s always been (even when the coloring was… strange… in the early 2000s), if not elevated by more recent coloring.
Rebecca Oliver: It feels like comics. I like that. I am here to enjoy comics, not an Ansel Adams coffee table book.
Cy: ASM has always felt like classic comics for me, and this issue hit that nail on the head, though in a classic way I’m not such a fan of.
Next week brings Red Goblin #5, a new beginning in Loki #1, and more mutant madness in Immortal X-Men #12. Catch up on past entries in The Beat’s Marvel Rundown archive.
The Marvel Rundown is edited by Avery Kaplan.