Fallen Friend #1 is published by Marvel Comics and features three stories by multiple creators. “Chapter One: Kamala” is written by G. Willow Wilson, art by G. Willow Wilson, art by Takeshi Miyazawa, colors by Ian Herring, and letters by Ariana Maher. “Chapter Two: Champion” is written by Mark Waid, art by Humberto Ramos, colors by Edgar Delgado, and letters by Maher. “Chapter 3: Avenger” is written by Saladin Ahmed, art by Andrea Di Vito, colors by Edgar Delgado, and letters by Maher. After her death, Kamala Khan’s family, friends, and members of the superhero community gather to remember her.
The comic is split into three chapters, slowly escalating in the profile and status of those attending the service. It goes from those that were in her solo book, her friends and immediate family, to the Champions and young heroes, to the Avengers and larger heroes. And yet the most emotional part of the issue is likely that first story, written by the person that co-created Kamala in the first Place. It’s reminiscent of what Kamala was, a voice for the Muslim community and a hero of a massively underrepresented community. The pacing is slow and patient, allowing different figures to come and go and say their peace. It takes place almost exclusively in Ms. Marvel’s mosque. There’s a ceremony, and that itself is touching, especially as it gets blended with the superhero realm.
Where the book shines is through its dialogue. There are some gorgeous, poignant conversations and eulogies. At its core are those that loved Kamala before she became a superhero, like Nakia and Bruno. It’s personal and eloquent, rife with emotion that feels natural. That first chapter feels especially like it is being written from the heart of Wilson herself, paying tribute to the character. It’s a great callback to the foundation of the hero.
The second story “Champion” is less emotional due to how hard it tries. These are her closest friends in the superhero community, where she led the Champions in separation from their older, more adult-run groups. And at the start, characters like Spider-Man and Nova struggle to cope with losing someone they adored. But then Waid takes the story to a heightened level, with conflict between Amadeus Cho and Viv Vision. It gets overly loud, repetitive, and uncomfortable to read. What is essentially a conversation about the overwhelming magnitude of grief gets drowned out by complications.
Then there are other cameos by some of the most established characters in Marvel comics, and I felt like every single one of them worked well. Ahmed introduces most of these in the final chapter, as it is more focused on the legacy of being an Avenger. In a world full of technology and magic, questions are asked about life and death that make sense within the confines of that universe.
The art is fantastic among all of the chapters within Fallen Friend #1, with original creators returning to illustrate Ms. Marvel and her friends. Miyazawa had a phenomenal time on the first Ms Marvel series alongside Wilson. What he brings is a grounded style, pivotal to how the comic looked. It’s honest, humble, and humanising.
The team from the first Champions comic makes up the second chapter, with the incredible designs looking comedically out of place inside the mosque. There aren’t just the present-day moments, as flashbacks to Kamala’s most noble and strong instances as a Champion being re-lived under the energetic pen of Ramos. There is a negative connotation with those memories, intensified by thicker shadows and line weights. The body language is exceptional, with that dejected, forlorn expression able to be present in characters with obscured faces. Then there is the final chapter, and the heroes are brought in looking terrific. But even some of these majestic figures are heartbroken and unsure of themselves — a reminder that they are also human.
The colors are a superb example of the difference between worlds. In the first chapter, the colors are grainy and hazy, trying to establish a natural look within the mosque. Even when brighter tones enter the room, they are muted and calmer. Then when Delgado applies his work to the comic, the vibrancy of the superhero costumes are brought into play. This is not a bad thing in my opinion. Ms Marvel idolised and adored the costumes and the colors, so it is fitting that those heroes wore them whilst remembering here. The lettering is unassuming, and always easy to read, whilst also adjusted to help denote tone and emotion.
Fallen Friend #1 has a monumental weight to carry. There are a variety of opinions on the death of Ms. Marvel, and it is one of the most controversial comic moments in this decade so far. However, that was not the decision of the creators who have been tasked with eulogising her. This comic handles that superbly. It recalls how beautiful of a character Kamala was, and just how important she was. Both the art and writing, aside from that second chapter, approach it with the same devastation that many readers felt. Not just within the world itself but as a figure of pop culture. There are a modicum of reasons why losing Kamala is so gut-wrenching, and I think the whole comic encapsulates that.
Fallen Friend: The Death of Ms. Marvel #1
There are a modicum of reasons why losing Kamala is so gut-wrenching, and I think the whole comic encapsulates that.