JAKARTA, April 13 — Marvel has fired Indonesian artist Ardian Syaf after he hid politically charged messages and religious references in the first issue of X-Men: Gold.
The publisher said that Ardian’s contract was “terminated immediately” but that his work would still be seen on shelves.
The statement explained that issues two and three of X-Men: Gold, where he was the lead artist, had already been sent to print.
The firestorm began over the weekend when clued-up readers pointed out that Ardian had included some anti-Christian and anti-Semitic messaging within the pages of X-Men Gold No. 1.
Others said that some of the messages appeared to be referencing the current tensions around Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who is facing accusations of blasphemy against Islam.
In issue one of X-Men: Gold, for example, Colossus was seen wearing a T-shirt with QS 5:51 written on it.
While translations of the Quranic passage vary, hardline Islamists in Indonesia have reportedly used the verse to defend their views about non-Muslims.
The verse is believed to be a reference to Ahok who is a Christian.
Ardian also drew X-Men leader Kitty Pryde, a Jewish character, in front of a jewellery store with only the first three letters of the word clearly visible.
Another sign nearby also bore the numbers “212”, believed to reference the date of a Jakarta protest against Ahok.
Ardian reportedly shared in a Facebook post (that has since been removed) that he was inspired by the December 2 protest.
In a subsequent post, he claimed to only use the Quran references out of “Love to Allah” before stating that “my career is over now”.
With issues two and three yet to hit newsstands, one wonders what other controversial Easter eggs await?