On Wednesday, the venerable company released one of its highest-profile comics in recent months, X-Men Gold No. 1. Gold is the flagship series in Marvel’s so-called ResurrXion project, which seeks to make the X-Men great again by thrusting them into the spotlight with new creative talent and a big marketing push. This first issue, written by Arrow co-creator and longtime comics scribe Marc Guggenheim, sees the titular team relocated to the heart of New York City and attempting to regain a luster of optimistic heroism in a dark and confusing world. Penciled by Indonesian artist Ardian Syaf, it was thrilling and cheery, filled with hope and excitement.
"Difficult to translate"? As if.Trouble was, it also happened to be filled with coded messages commenting on a vicious political conflict in Indonesia. The most notable message appears on the chest of Russian X-Man Colossus — while playing a game of softball with his teammates, we see the characters “QS 5:51” emblazoned on his jersey. One can forgive editors Chris Robinson, Daniel Ketchum, and Mark Paniccia for assuming those were just random letters and numbers drawn by a man from a country where baseball uniforms aren’t widespread. But no, they stood for Qur’an Sura 5:51 — a verse from the Islamic holy book.
That verse is difficult to translate precisely into English, and there has been an array of attempts over the years, many of which you can read here. Generally, it says something along the lines of what the Hilali-Khan translation schema maps out as “O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as awliya (friends, protectors, helpers, etc.), they are but awliya to one another. And if any amongst you takes them as awliya, then surely he is one of them. Verily, Allah guides not those people who are the zalimoon (polytheists, wrongdoers, unjust).” Whatever your interpretation, it’s not very nice to Jews and Christians.
I don't know what's worse: Marvel allowing itself to be used as a conduit for jihad/sharia, or the claim than an utterly transparent--and very ugly--passage of the Koran is subject to "interpretation."
Probably a toss up, no?
Update: Robert Spencer weighs in on the comic book kerfuffle.