Saladin Ahmed's The Magnificent Ms. Marvel concludes with issue #18 and it has been nothing short of, well, magnificent. This isn't a pun for pun's sake, I promise. I've spent some serious time thinking about what word to use describing not just this finale, but Ahmed's entire 18-issue run, and I can't help but return to "magnificent" every single time. It fits like a glove. This final issue perfectly encapsulates the series as a whole, fully delivering on the idea that being heroic isn't about what powers you possess, but that you use everything you have to fight hatred and tyranny.
Ahmed and artist Minkyu Jung's series has been all about Kamala Khan figuring out various aspects of her identity, as the world and those around her try to tell her what she is and is not. From simple discussions with her parents to full-on laws created against teenage superheroes, everything in Kamala's life has been telling her who to be, so much so that she can't help questioning her own every move. But what has been staring us in the face all along is the fact that, even amidst her doubts, Kamala has always known who she is. Kamala Khan is a champion of justice in the truest sense, and her exploration of identity works to further cement that fact. She's the perfect hero.
Kamala brings the same tenacity to a fight against a tyrannical and oppressive government force that she does to an ethical debate with her parents. She is just as hard on herself for potentially hurting the feelings of a friend as she is for creating an evil twin hell-bent on destruction. Everything thrown at Kamala over these past 18 issues has deepened her knowledge of how messed up our world is, while also strengthening her desire to improve it.
Ahmed took on an incredible challenge when he agreed to write The Magnificent Ms. Marvel. Kamala Khan and creator G. Willow Wilson are one of the few, new iconic character-writer pairings in Marvel Comics, where one can't be mentioned without the other following close behind. Claremont and the X-Men. Simonson and Thor. Wilson and Ms. Marvel will forever be synonymous with one another, and Ahmed had the tricky task of being the first writer to take over Ms. Marvel following her original creator.
As he explains in the letter after issue #18, Ahmed was approached by Wilson and co-creator Sana Amanat about writing this series. They hand-picked him to care for Kamala and tell the next chapter of her story. They could not have made a better choice.
There is such care and love given to Kamala in this story. Bad things happen to her. Quite often, actually. But Ahmed has consistently found ways to foster a love within Kamala through those experiences that is unmatched in any other hero on Marvel's roster today. And this isn't just a writer deciding to provide a character with good opinions. Every revelation that Kamala comes to is thoroughly earned and formed based on the specific experiences we see her confront. It's a master class in evolving a character while keeping them grounded in their own identity.
The fact that we have seen so many real-life current events at play throughout this run is just the icing on the cake. The Magnificent Ms. Marvel has been releasing issues during the one of the most tumultuous and terrifying eras in American history. Ahmed has leaned hard into the issues that plague our current lives while still making the comic uplifting. Ms. Marvel has tackled government corruption, racial inequality, sexism, grief, corporate technology—you name it, she's dealt with it.
With everything that has been going on in the world, it would've been easy for Ms. Marvel to be a light bit of escapist literature. She's a cool teenager girl with stretchy powers and a fun costume, that's a recipe for fun shenanigans! But that's not who Willow created Kamala to be. This comic book is incredibly fun, don't get me wrong, but it doesn't shy away from our problems, either. It tackles them head on, just as Ms. Marvel would.
The Magnificent Ms. Marvel #18 concludes not with a massive fight or world-ending threat, but with Kamala using empathy and love to overcome evil. It shows the love of real people affecting a potential tragedy, proving that Kamala was right in her beliefs from the very beginning. In many hands, this kind of ending could have felt schlocky or abrupt. But its point is one that Ahmed has spent more than two years building toward.
It's sad to see this The Magnificent Ms. Marvel end. It has truly been one of the best books Marvel has produced during its run. But this ending is as perfect as the writer and character partnership that built it. Both Kamala and Ahmed will continue doing wonderful things in the future, and it's been an honor to experience the magnificence they've been able to achieve together.
Published by Marvel Comics
On February 24, 2021
Written by Saladin Ahmed
Art by Minkyu Jung
Colors by Ian Herring0comments
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Cover by Mirka Andolfo