Ms. Marvel just fought her symbiote better than Spider-Man ever has. Kamala Khan has established herself as one of the most vivid new characters in comic books today. The latest issue marks a bittersweet conclusion to her groundbreaking Ms. Marvel solo series. As her comic comes to an end, however, Ms. Marvel proves she’s actually a lot stronger than heroes like Spider-Man when she squares off against her former symbiote-like being, Stormranger.
The Magnificent Marvel #18, written by Saladin Ahmed and illustrated by Minkyu Jung and Ian Herring, sees Kamala Khan excited about her upcoming homecoming dance. On the way to the dance, she repairs her relationship with her friend Zoe before excitedly entering the dance floor. Unfortunately, Kamala’s jubilee is cut short when she sees a falling star stream by the windows of the school gym.
Recognizing the falling star, Kamala changes into Ms. Marvel and rushes to confront Stormranger. An advanced Kree nanotech battlesuit, Stormranger bonded with Ms. Marvel, giving her enhanced shapeshifting abilities. However, when Stormranger’s influence led to Kamala nearly killing a villain, she separated from it – creating the obsessed Stormranger in the process. Craving revenge, Stormranger attacked Ms. Marvel, who was saved by the superhero Amulet. Together, they continued to battle Stormanger to a standstill, with Amulet receiving a powerful boost from Kamala’s worried classmates. Stormranger is unable to piece Amulet’s protective barrier, so much so that she’s actively hurting herself. Ms. Marvel shares her recent near-death experience with her former suit, and the realization that a similar fate could await Stormranger if she presses on with her attack is enough to send her fleeing. Kamala then reveals her identity to Amulet, and joyfully reunites with her friends.
What sets Kamala apart from the beginning is the amount of compassion she shows to Stormranger. Even before the battle begins, Kamala shows sympathy for the events which nearly destroyed Stormranger in the past, telling the symbiote-like creature it must have been scary. While this does little to spurn Stormranger attacks, it does show Kamala is able to sympathize with her opponent – even when it is a killer robot. This proves to be key, as Kamala soon realizes her robotic attacker has never actually considered the implications of failure, much less termination. Drawing from her own brush with death in the Outlawed storyline, Kamala is able to introduce a new sensation to her robotic enemy – fear, or something close to it. It’s also clear Ms. Marvel has grown as both a hero and a person, by entrusting her identity with her new ally Amulet and reconciling with her friend Zoe.
Ms. Marvel’s clash with Stormranger highlights the best parts of the character. Unlike Spider-Man, Kamala sees the humanity in her suit. She’s visibly distraught when Stormranger’s attacks start to wear down her opponent. The final issue of her solo series fitting balances Ms. Marvel’s superhero prowess with her most powerful asset – compassion. Fortunately, Kamala’s adventures don’t end here, as the character will be prominently featured in Champions going forward. Though one chapter is closing, the sky is the limit on where Ms. Marvel goes next.