The re-emergence of Ms. Marvel’s first supervillain emphasizes just how much she’s grown since Kamala Khan’s early adventures.
Warning: Spoilers for Dark Web: Ms. Marvel #1 ahead!Although New York is struggling in the grip of Madelyne Pryor’s ‘Dark Web’ invasion, the return of Ms. Marvel‘s earliest nemesis shows just how far Kamala has grown as a hero since she last encountered the Inventor. While this cockatiel-headed clone of Thomas Edison is an odd foe, his inclusion in this first issue inevitably invites comparison between the Ms. Marvel he first menaced and the Ms. Marvel of today. And while the Kamala of the past was still coming to terms with who she was as a person, let alone a superhero, the modern Kamala takes this demonic incursion as an opportunity to shine.
Kamala’s previous throwdown with the Inventor was a harrowing affair for the inexperienced superhero. Taking place in Ms. Marvel (2014) #11 by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and Ian Herring, the fight sees Kamala desperately trying to withstand barrages from exploding robots and struggling to control her size-shifting powers as Ms. Marvel just to stall the supervillain long enough for law enforcement to arrive. With Ms. Marvel admitting that she is out of her depth, the Inventor is eventually taken down by the combined efforts of his freed hostages, the police, and his own hubris, rather than Kamala’s direct heroics.
Sabir Prizado, Francesco Mortarino, and Dono Sanchez-Almara’s Ms. Marvel: Dark Web #1 opens on a completely different Kamala. Once again faced with a horde of rampaging robots (demon-possessed Oscorp technology), Kamala effortlessly weaves her powers together, smashing bots with her signature oversized fists before shrinking down to dodge a barrage of missiles and expanding from within her robotic foe to tear it apart from the inside. She even is able to drop some wisdom while rescuing her Oscorp co-worker, Arjun, delivering a classic superhero life lesson one would usually expect from figures like Captain America.
Kamala Khan Has Never Felt Like More of a Superhero
The differences between the two are night and day. One of Kamala’s earliest struggles was in figuring out her role as a hero, and her attempts to save the day frequently went awry; while not uncommon for a new hero, it did mean that she spent a lot of time working out who to turn to in a crisis. Now that she’s fully come into her own, Kamala is the one that Oscorp employees turn to, evacuating the building with practiced ease.
While it may seem obvious that Kamala is no longer the same person she was back in 2015, permanent growth can be tricky to obtain in a medium (comics) infamous for frequent reboots and retcons. As such, the inclusion of the Inventor seems to be a deliberate callback to Kamala’s early struggles (the first few pages even replay the last moments of their previous encounter, verbatim, though from the Inventor’s perspective). It’s heartwarming to see just how much Ms. Marvel has grown since then: from a scared teen to a full-fledged hero ready to take on the Dark Web.
Dark Web: Ms. Marvel #1 is now available from Marvel Comics.