The artwork in question involves numbers that reference a verse from the Qur’an cited in support of intolerance towards other religions, as well as certain political protest taking place in Indonesia.
Marvel’s statement, provided to ComicBook.com, is as follows:
“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.”
X-Men Gold #1 was illustrated by Indonesian artist Ardian Syaf. Syaf snuck several references into the art, including numbers referencing protests by Muslim Indonesians of the Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who himself was accused of making certain intolerant statements. The scene has the Jewish mutant Kitty Pryde appealing to a crowd of humans for tolerance. Syaf's art places Kitty's head adjacent to the "jew" portion of a "jewelry" sign in the background, and the numbers 212 and 51 in the background are related to the Jakarta protests.
There was also a scene of the X-Men playing baseball. In the scene, Colossus is wearing a t-shirt with the letters and numbers "QS 5:51," which reference a verse from the Qur’an that, in a specific Indonesian translation, translates into a warning that Muslims should not appoint Christians or Jewish people as their leaders.
It is worth noting that the X-Men were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, two Jewish creators. Marc Guggenheim, the writer of X-Men Gold #1, is himself Jewish. Even within the context of the issue, the X-Men are led by Kitty Pryde, who is Jewish and a former love interest of Colossus. Colossus's best friend, Nightcrawler, is also a Catholic priest and is part of the team.
X-Men Gold released on Wednesday and was generally well-received by fans. The controversy came to the forefront this morning when the references to the Qu'ran verses and Jakarta protests were noted on social media platforms including Twitter and Facebook, as well as on Reddit.
No further details were provided concerning how exactly Marvel will discipline Syaf. Preview art suggests that Syaf has already completed work on X-Men Gold #2, which releases on April 19. Syaf is also one of three announced rotating artists on X-Men Gold, along with RB Silva and Ken Lashley, so it may be some time before fans know for certain if he will returning to X-Men Gold.
More X-Men Gold: Review / Marc Guggenheim Interview / X-Men Gold Introduces New Brotherhood Of Evil Mutants