Marvel Comics says it is taking “disciplinary action” against one of its artists, who inserted Islamist and antisemitic references into a comic book, according to the comic news website comicbook.com
Indonesian artist Ardian Syaf says he included in X-Men Gold #1 hidden references to the election of the governor of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta.
The vote has been one of Indonesia’s most polarizing elections, and is about much more than about choosing the city’s leader. Bitterly contested between the Chinese Christian incumbent, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, and his Muslim rivals, who won support of hard-line Islamists, it represents a choice between pluralism and increasingly fundamentalist Islam taking root in the world’s most populous Muslim nation, where many religious conservatives say a non-Muslim should not hold high office.
In one scene in the book, Ardian says he drew the character Colossus with a T-shirt that says “QS 5:51” — a reference to a Quranic verse that, according to fundamentalist interpretations, prohibits Muslims from electing a Christian or Jewish leader.
In another scene, the Jewish character Kitty Pryde is also drawn together with a sign reading “Jewelry,” her head next to the part of the sign that reads “Jew.” In the same scene, the number “51” appears, referring to a massive Islamist anti-Ahok demonstration that took place in Jakarta on Dec. 12.
Ardian says he included the messages the X-Men Gold artwork after he took part in the demonstration in December. “Choosing a non-[Muslim] as a leader is forbidden” he said, as reported by the Jakarta Post. “That’s what the [Quaranic verse] says.” He also reportedly talked about what he had done on his Facebook page.
Ardian has been heavily criticized on Indonesian social media, with many pointing out that his stance is contrary to the inclusive and tolerant message of the X-Men series. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the creators of X-Men, were both Jewish.
“What he has done in the recent X-Men book is very disrespectful and unprofessional,” tweeted fellow Indonesian comic artist Ario Anindito, who also works for Marvel.
In a statement reportedly provided to comicbook.com, Marvel said: “The mentioned artwork in X-Men Gold #1 was inserted without knowledge behind its reported meanings. These implied references do not reflect the views of the writer, editors or anyone else at Marvel and are in direct opposition of the inclusiveness of Marvel Comics and what the X-Men have stood for since their creation.”
It added that the artwork “will be removed from subsequent printings, digital versions, and trade paperbacks.”