Marvel Comics has promised to take disciplinary action against an Indonesian artist who has been accused by comic book fans of sneaking in a number of controversial religious references into his artwork in the first issue of X-Men Gold.
X-Men Gold #1 was launched on Wednesday (5 April) and was illustrated by Ardian Syaf.
His artwork sparked an outcry among Indonesian comic book fans on social media, which alerted Marvel Comics to the controversy.
His artwork is alleged to contain several hidden religious references. Channel News Asia said that in one scene, Jewish mutant Kitty Pryde is seen in front of a crowd of humans.
In the illustration, a sign saying "Jewelry" is shown next to her head, which some readers said was a covert slur on her heritage.
In the same panel, readers noted a building bearing the number '212', which they said was a reference to the date (2 December 2016) that a mass rally by Indonesian Muslims was called against Jakarta's Christian Chinese governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, accusing him of blasphemy.
Ahok is on trial for allegedly insulting the Quran.
In another panel, Colossus is seen wearing a T-shirt featuring the words 'QS 5:51', said to stand for Quran Chapter 5, Verse 51. Translated, the verse reads: "Oh you who believe, take not the Jews and the Christians as leaders/advisers", which critics say is an anti-Jewish and anti-Christian message.
One reader from Jakarta sent an open letter to Marvel Comics in his Facebook Page, accusing the artist of placing a "subliminal message of hatred towards minorities."
The fan said: "It is up to you as a publisher what to do about this penciller [artist]. But I don't think you and your comic readers would want your comics to be used to spread hatred based on [a] person's religion."
In a statement, Marvel Comics said that the 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," it continued.
"This artwork will be removed from subsequent printings, digital versions, and trade paperbacks and disciplinary action is being taken."
The organisation did not go into detail about the action. According to culture website The Verge, Syaf is also the artist for X-Men Gold#2 and was expected to be involved in future issues.
According to BleedingCool, a website on comic books, Syaf had drawn in political figures into comic panels before. It said in an issue of Batgirl, he featured Joko Widodo, the current president of Indonesia, and the former governor of Jakarta.