Marvel Comics artist hid anti-semitic symbols in latest X-Men issue

Marvel Comics says it is taking "disciplinary action" against one of its artists, who inserted Islamist and antisemitic references into a comic book.

In the premiere issue of X-Men: Gold which came out last week, there are a few instances where Syaf surreptitiously inserted the numbers into the comic. Bitterly contested between the Chinese Christian Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and his Muslim rivals who are supported by hard-line Islamists, it represents, for many in the world's most populous Muslim nation, a choice between secularism and fundamentalist Islam.

Marvel Comics has been battling low sales of its comics, and much of it may do with writers baking political correctness into their narratives, and also retiring established characters for new, more "diverse" faces.

"O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies", a translated version of the text reads.

According to Asian Correspondent, in one panel, a character's shirt displays the logo "QS 5:51" in reference to the Quranic verse 51 from Surah 5, which is widely interpreted to mean non-Muslims should not become the leaders of Muslims.

ComicBook.com has secured a statement from Marvel, in which the publisher said it will remove some scenes from the comic and will take unspecified disciplinary measures against the Indonesian artist. In a statement released via Facebook (originally in Indonesian) Syaf asked for those discussing it to remain civil.

X-Men Gold is a twice monthly shipping ResurrXion comic book for Marvel Now 2017 which will have platooning artists.

Largely ignored by the worldwide media, the Indonesian turmoil involves the Governor of Jakarta, Basuki Purnama Tjahaja (also known as Ahok), who is now on trial for blasphemy.

But some Indonesian fans spotted it right away and started a Reddit thread suggesting that the artist, Ardian Syaf, was using the comic "as a tool to spread religious bigotry".

As for Syaf, Bleeding Cool reports that he is more or less refusing to back down, claiming that his references were nothing but nods to the political situation in Indonesia and not necessarily an endorsement of either side, while also telling people to buy copies of the the first prints of his issue since it's now collectible.

Ardian shared artwork for the panel on his Facebook page on Thursday.

It's worth noting that Marc Guggenheim, Syaf's writer on the comic book, was raised Jewish, that the X-Men's creators - Stan Lee and the late Jack Kirby - are/were Jewish, and that the X-Men, more so than any other Marvel characters, have always been allegories for inclusivity and empathy. "Hope you're taking actions".

BleedingCool notes that this isn't the first time Syaf has drawn in political figures into comic panels; it said in an issue of Batgirl, he featured Joko Widodo, the current president of Indonesia, and the former governor of Jakarta.

But he also said the numbers in his drawings might carry an additional meaning.

The company explained that the artwork will be removed from subsequent printings and "disciplinary action is being taken".

He added: "I don't hate Jews or Christians, I worked with them for 10 years". I have a lot of Jewish and Christian friends.

  • Salvatore Jensen