While the world’s been enduring Islamic terror, it seems the graphic-novel industry suffered its own version of terror. An Islamic follower hid various quasi-encrypted messages in a line of well-known Marvel comics—X-Men Gold.
Artist Ardian Syaf felt compelled to insert what many called anti-Semitic, anti-Christian propaganda into the series’ illustrations. While the first, three issues had already gone to print, four, five and six were pulled from the publication process.
The Indonesian native’s initial efforts were in response to Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (aka Ahok) being slapped with blasphemy charges and enduring a heavy trial—Purnama’s also a Chinese Christian. The Indonesian governor incited much conflict in hardcore Muslims upon referring to a certain passage in the Koran—one that has been often understood to mean Christians and/or Jews should not be Muslim, political leaders. Purnama referenced this during his 2016 campaign However, the prosecution is of the stance Purnama’s anti-Islam—but his counter claim was he simply referenced this when calling out politicians “incorrectly” utilizing said verse as cannon fodder to destroy Purnama’s continuance in office.
Syaf secretly embedded all that into his illustrations for X-Men Gold but didn’t bother to run it by his project managers—let alone Marvel itself.
[Video:courtesy of IGN News]
The statement also availed that “Marvel has terminated Ardian Syaf’s contract effective immediately. … Issues No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 will be drawn by R. B. Silva and issues No. 7, No. 8 and No. 9 will be drawn by Ken Lashley. A permanent, replacement artist will be assigned to X-Men Gold in the coming weeks.”
While X-Men comics have always had socio-political undertones (re: mutants risking their lives for the very humans who hate them), upon this latest discovery, Marvel was anything but keen on their current series to be fanning the flames of Indonesia’s religious, political issues—a country holding the most Muslims anywhere on Earth.
Also note that X-Men creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are Jewish. More, in the X-Men Gold series, team-leader Kitty Pryde is Jewish. Pryde once dated fellow-mutant Colossus—his best friend is Nightcrawler, who’s not only a team member but a Catholic priest.
Even upon all this controversy and outcry, Syaf, who received many hate messages on Facebook, defended that his haters “did not know him.” (Really…??) He also posted, “My career is over now. It’s the consequence [of] what I did. Please, no more mockery, debate, no more hate. My apologies for all the noise. Good bye. May God bless you all.”
Despite Syaf’s attempt at an apology, Marvel followers continued their reprimands.
“No one needs to ‘know you’ to understand what you did,” wrote Facebooker Andy Apsay commented. “It was blatant and intentional. Swallow your pride. You are not bigger than Marvel.”
Other comments included Gusti Made Sumariana opining that Syaf’s art was “spreading hatred towards Christians and Jews.”
There was also a Facebooker who commented, “Keep your bigotry out of the X-Men.”
Amid the social-media drama, others actually posted on behalf of Syaf. An Indonesian comment was translated to “people are free to react how they may. Artists are free to express what they do.”
Perhaps so, but is it wise to insert personal beliefs into a multi-billion-dollar company’s publication—without consulting them on it (especially if the respective position aligns with those of the Islamic faith, who are currently spreading terrorism across the globe)? The bottom line is Syaf was hired to draw certain illustrations correlating with the story ideas expressed within the given, X-Men universe, which doesn’t promote Muslims and Islam.