Syaf Puts Bigoted Codewords Into X-Men Gold
Controversy erupted around Indonesian artist Ardian Syaf over the weekend as X-Men Gold readers discovered something disturbing. In his art for the series’ first issue, Syaf hid several allusions to Indonesian politics and certain passages of the Koran, Comicbook.com reports. The references refer to protests against a Christian politician, who Indonesian Muslim hardliners have accused of heresy. The numbers 212 and 51 are seen referencing these protests. Additionally, Comicbook.com notes that Syaf placed a reference to a certain passage in the Koran on Colossus’ shirt in a baseball scene. This passage, in the Indonesian tradition, reads as a command to not appoint Jews or Christians as leaders. To make matters worse, Syaf is of the majority population of Indonesia while the Christian politician is of a minority Chinese group. When this was discovered, social media erupted.
There are also anti-Jewish references in the art. These include place Kitty Pryde, a Jewish mutant, by a jewelry store sign so her head would be next to the “Jew” part of the word. This is particularly upsetting to some as the creators of the X-Men, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, were Jewish, as is X-Men Gold scribe Mark Guggenheim.
Marvel and Fellow Creators React
On Saturday night, Marvel issued the following statement:
“The mentioned artwork in X-Men Gold #1 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. This artwork will be removed from subsequent printings, digital versions, and trade paperbacks and disciplinary action is being taken.”
Numerous comic book talent have reacted to the Syaf controversy. Most notably was Marvel writer, and Muslim convert, G. Willow Wilson:
Yeah pardon my French but f**k this guy. Kiss your career goodbye. https://t.co/jkLsJlCfEn
— G. Willow Wilson (@GWillowWilson) April 9, 2017
She later expanded upon her thoughts in a Tumblr post on how Syaf’s interpretation was incomparable with modern Muslim belief. Other talent have reacted:
I like Ardian Syaf's work, but I think what he has done in the recent X-Men book is very disrespectful and unprofessional. ☹️
— Ario Anindito (@arioanin) April 8, 2017
Marvel Comics' diversity problems continue:https://t.co/BMUYPC0U5k
— Dirk Deppey (@deppey) April 8, 2017
Well, that's one way to kill your career in comics.https://t.co/ioeOAp3Uhx
— John Cullen 💬 (@nellucnhoj) April 8, 2017
And I thought I was a Marvel PR pain in the ass.
— RobbiRodriguez (@RobbiRodriguez) April 9, 2017
I'm not often moved to feel sorry for corporate behemoths, but Marvel is having a lousy week.
— Colleen Doran (@ColleenDoran) April 9, 2017
An artist can express political/religious opinion on social media, at their own risk.
Sneaking it in unrelated comics panels is out of line.
— Patch Zircher (@PatrickZircher) April 9, 2017
Really bummed out by the shenanigans in the new X-Men comic. Feel for the editors and team that were duped, deceived and mis-led.
— robertliefeld (@robertliefeld) April 8, 2017
As of now, Syaf seems to be on the book, having completed issue two of X-Men Gold. However, in the wake of last weekend’s controversial comments in regards to diversity, Marvel’s back is to the wall. At the time of this writing, it is unknown if Syaf will be fired, or even removed from the title. On his personal Facebook page, Syaf remains unapologetic about his actions.
Stay tuned to Word of the Nerd as we cover this developing story.