Following the discovery of controversial and highly charged religious and political messaging placed in the newly released "X-Men Gold" #1 by series artist Ardian Syaf, Marvel has issued a statement on the situation to ComicBook.com.
"The mentioned artwork in 'X-Men Gold' #1 was inserted without knowledge behind its reported meanings," the publisher said. "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. This artwork will be removed from subsequent printings, digital versions, and trade paperbacks and disciplinary action is being taken."
Although it's not yet known what type of disciplinary action will be taken against Syaf, the statement is notable for both the swiftness in which Marvel has responded -- on a Saturday, hours after the "X-Men Gold" art became a major talking point on social media -- and the definitive condemnation of the implied statements in the issue. CBR has reached out to Marvel for further comment.
— Dirga Ong (@diekarasu) April 8, 2017
Early on Saturday, word quickly spread on social media following the discovery of multiple, subtly placed messages in the "X-Men Gold" #1 art that referenced protests against Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian and the current governor of Jakarta, the capital of the Republic of Indonesia. Syaf, who is Indonesian, drew X-Men character Colossus wearing a T-shirt reading "QS 5:51," meaning Quran Surah 5:51 -- a verse of the Quran, as relayed by Bleeding Cool, commonly translated in Indonesian as "Muslims should not appoint the Jews and Christians as their leader." The quran.com translation reads, "O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you - then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people."
Additionally, in a group scene earlier in the issue, the numbers "212" and "51" are seen, on a storefront and on a civilian's T-shirt, respectively. "212" refers to a real-life protest on Dec. 2, 2016, where an estimated 200,000 Indonesians marched against Purnama for alleged blasphemy against the Quran during a speech; "51" is a reference to the "QS 5:51" passage.
When questioned by fans about the inclusion of these messages, Syaf responded on his Facebook page, in Indonesian. Although Google Translate hasn't provided a completely reliable translation, the message appears to have been Syaf acknowledging the political nature of the hidden messages, and thanking dissenters for engaging politely.
Since discussion around the issue proliferated, it's been widely noted that the mutants of the X-Men have served as parables for minority groups since their creation in 1963 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, thus increasing the perceived inappropriateness of using those characters for a message against the minority Christian and Jewish populations in Indonesia. Additionally, "X-Men Gold" features Kitty Pryde -- a Jewish character -- taking command of an X-Men team for the first time in her history, while Nightcrawler, canonically a staunch Catholic and former priest, has a main cast role.
"X-Men Gold" #1, a flagship title of Marvel's "ResurrXion" relaunch of the X-Men and Inhuman titles, was released on Wednesday, with no connection initially made by readers to any real-life political or religious statements. The writer of the series, Marc Guggenheim (himself Jewish) responded to the situation on Saturday by linking to ComicBook.com's report on Marvel's statement via Twitter, and simply stating "Please read."
Syaf is currently solicited as the interior artist for the first four issues of "X-Men Gold." Artists R.B. Silva and Ken Lashley are already scheduled to contribute to the twice-monthly series, with Silva solicited as the artist of June's issues 5 and 6. "X-Men Gold" #2 is scheduled for release on April 19. Keep reading CBR for the latest on the future of the series and Syaf's position at Marvel.