Marvel Comics is planning to take disciplinary action against an Indonesian artist who sneaked several controversial references into his artwork for the first issue of X-Men Gold, according to reports citing a statement by the comics giant.
X-Men Gold #1, which was published on Wednesday (Apr 5), was illustrated by Indonesian artist Ardian Syaf.
His artwork allegedly contained several hidden religious references and sparked an outcry by comic book fans on social media.
In one scene, Jewish mutant Kitty Pryde is seen standing in front of a crowd of humans. Her head is adjacent to a sign saying “Jewelry”, which some took to be a reference to her heritage.
In the same panel, there is a building with the numbers “212” on it – a reference to a mass rally by Indonesian Muslims on Dec 2 last year against Jakarta’s Christian Chinese governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama. Ahok is on trial for blasphemy over accusations that he insulted the Islamic holy book, the Quran.
Another scene in the issue shows Colossus wearing a t-shirt with “QS 5:51” on it, a reference to a verse in the Quran used by some in Indonesia to support their view that non-Muslims should not lead the government.
Ardian shared artwork for the issue on his Facebook page on Thursday, in a post that has since been taken down. By Sunday evening, the post had drawn almost 200 comments.
Many criticised him for the alleged political messages. “The X-Men message at its core is integration, not division,” Facebook user Zauri Severino Junior wrote.
“It’s shameful to see (an) Indonesian artist make a fool of himself worldwide just because of his impaired religious views and racism,” another commenter, Nuri Agustiani Setiawan, wrote.
In a statement published by ComicBook on Saturday, Marvel said the artwork “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,” the statement said.
Marvel added that disciplinary action would be taken against Syaf, but did not give further details.
It added that the artwork would be removed from subsequent printings, digital versions, and trade paperbacks.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday (Apr 11), Syaf said his career was “over now”.
He added: “It’s the consequence (of) what I did, and I take it. Please no more mockery, debate, no more hate. I hope all in peace.”