The cover of Amazing Spider-Man #26

Absolutely No One Is Happy With Spider-Man’s Latest Fridging

If you’ve been paying attention to geek-flavored social media recently, you’ll know that a lot of people are very displeased about Amazing Spider-Man #26, written by Zeb Wells. And they have a good reason, because—spoiler alert—this comic kills off Kamala Khan. Yes, that Kamala Khan, the one who just had a critically acclaimed TV series and has a big movie coming out this year. That’s … a choice? Killing off Marvel’s most famous South Asian heroine at the end of AAPI Month is likewise a choice.

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But the manner in which she’s killed is likewise spectacularly out of touch. You’re going to need a bit of backstory here, I’m afraid, and the backstory is also pretty darn bad.

What has happened to Spider-Man?

Wells’ run starts by breaking up Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, which, as you can imagine, was an unpopular move. The circumstances under which they split were left as a mystery box for a while, but eventually, all was revealed. MJ and Peter had at one point been transported to another dimension where they met a mysterious man called Paul. When the chance came to get back to their world, MJ shoved Peter through the portal instead of going herself, but time runs differently in this new dimension, so MJ was trapped in another world for four years.

During that time, she—ya guessed it—hooked up with Paul. Ever weirder, she and Paul began to raise two little orphaned kids together who were later revealed to be “chains” placed on MJ by the villain. Sorry, what? A woman chained by two children she didn’t ask for? That sounds like a fate worse than death for an independent woman like MJ, yet the comic breezes on past that as if playing homemaker was her inevitable end.

So now we’ve got a plot where MJ is forced into motherhood in order to get her out of Peter’s life, which is insulting, and a plot where Kamala Khan dies. How can those two things be combined in the worst way possible? I’m glad you asked!

The death of Ms. Marvel

The Big Bad of this story, Rabin, needs to kill Mary Jane. (Fun fact: He refers to her as “the scarlet woman” in case you missed all the other casual misogyny in this story.) He sneaks up behind her and stabs her with a blade. But! It’s not MJ at all; it’s Kamala, who has shapeshifted into MJ’s form despite the fact that it was established some time ago that she can’t shapeshift anymore. So, Kamala is stabbed while nonsensically in the guise of a white woman, and then she dies in Peter’s arms, surrounded by people who barely know her.

Oh yeah, one of them is Norman Osborn, who’s now “reformed” and all buddy-buddy with Peter despite being the one responsible for the last high-profile fridging in Spider-Man comics, the murder of Gwen Stacy. And to add a final insult to injury, as Kamala is dying, she asks Peter, “Did I do good?” as if she could possibly need validation from him. Others have pointed out the lack of care and research that went into that aspect of things:

So Kamala dies to cause Peter pain and that’s about it. It’s even he who’s front and center on the cover of “Fallen Friend,” the comic that’s supposed to deal with the aftermath of all this. What about Miles, the Spider-Man Kamala actually knows and is friends with? He’s not there.

The cover of 'Fallen Friend: The Death of Ms Marvel' (Marvel)
(Marvel)

Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of fully justified anger about this comic right now. Of course, Kamala will be back probably before the year is even out, but that doesn’t change how lazy and thoughtless it all is. The feedback from Spider-Man fans on Twitter has been nothing but negative.

Actually, no, wait. The feedback has been nothing but negative except from the feedback from the “anti-woke” crowd, who celebrated the death of a role model for young Muslim girls. But Zeb Wells and editor Nick Lowe haven’t responded to any of this yet, despite being active on Twitter. This issue of Amazing Spider-Man was hyped up as “shocking,” but is there really anything shocking about it now? Casual racism and sexism? Groundbreaking.

(featured image: Marvel)


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Author
Sarah Barrett
Sarah Barrett (she/her) is a freelance writer with The Mary Sue who has been working in journalism since 2014. She loves to write about movies, even the bad ones. (Especially the bad ones.) The Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and the Star Wars prequels changed her life in many interesting ways. She lives in one of the very, very few good parts of England.