Marvel Comics is removing a troubling anti-Mormon reference from Ryan Ottley's artwork in the recently released Amazing Spider-Man #4.
The issue, which was written by Nick Spencer, featured a panel in which Spider-Man was showing off some recent endorsement deals in the form of patches emblazoned on his iconic red-and-blue costume. One of the patches, however, referenced CES Letter, a book written by ex-Mormon Jeremy Runnells in which he denounces his former religion.
“The art reference in Amazing Spider-Man #4 was included without awareness by Marvel of its meaning," Marvel told The Hollywood Reporter. "As a policy, Marvel does not permit hidden controversial messages in its artwork. The reference will be removed from all subsequent printings, digital versions and trade paperbacks.”
“I’ve spoken with Marvel about my recent artwork, and I have no animosity toward members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Ottley added. “My entire family are members, as are many of my friends, and I would never include anything mean-spirited about them or their beliefs. The reference was in regards to a subject I am interested in and a personal decision I made in my life. It has nothing to do with the character, the story or Marvel.”
Of course, readers will likely recall a similar situation in April 2017, when artist Ardian Syaf included imagery referencing a passage from the Quran with strong anti-Jew and Christian overtones in X-Men Gold #1. However, while Marvel was quick to terminate Syaf's contract following that incident, it appears the publisher is taking a more forgiving stance when it comes to Ottley, as there's been no indication of any disciplinary action, outside of the artwork being revised.
The Amazing Spider-Man #4 is on sale now from Marvel Comics.