Anti-Semitism & Racism in Marvel Comics: A Bug or a Feature?

 

Al Ewing’s Immortal Hulk run made it a point to emphasize leftist talking points known today as social justice propaganda. And nothing was said about how overbearing it could be by the leftists who were upholding it. Now, suddenly, when the artist Joe Bennett is accused of putting hidden insults against Jews in a panel from the 43rd issue of this volume laced with liberal ideology, there’s people taking notice and voicing how objectionable they find it. The discovery was primarily made by Comics XF:

 

ZR: There was one small, subtle moment in this issue that I need to call attention to, and I’m sorry to say it isn’t for a happy reason. Early in the issue, Joe stops into a jewelry store to buy a diamond bracelet with some money that he recently pickpocketed. As he does, we get a glimpse of the store’s window display, which bears the name “CRONEMBERG” and, in painted gold relief below it, a prominent Magen David, the Star of David.

Even in the best possible interpretation, this is odd. The scene has otherwise no connection to Judaism or the Jewish ownership of the shop; there are no Jewish themes to which the comic is trying to point us. The only conceivable interpretation, to put it frankly, is that this is a visual play on the old and antisemitic trope of Jews running the diamond business: a centuries-old cliché rooted in stereotypes of Jewish merchants as unscrupulous profiteers willing to do business with shady criminals (which, indeed, the shop is doing in this scene) [Ed. Note: One thing we didn’t see when this article was first published was that instead of the store being labelled as a JEWELRY store, the word JEWERY was written instead. It was slightly hard to notice, being written backwards, but is pretty blatant. This makes for an incredibly overt antisemetic dogwhistle in this book.]

This is not an overt moment. I imagine it would be easy for most readers to overlook entirely. But as a Jewish reader coming to this comic, the sight of a Jewish symbol stenciled on the outside of that window was hard to ignore, and hard to justify. Perhaps this was called for in the comic script itself (though that seems unlikely to me), or perhaps it was the addition of the issue’s art team, penciler Joe Bennet or inkers Ruy José and Belardino Brabo. It may be worth noting here that Bennett has, in previous years, expressed some less-than-admirable social viewpoints: in 2019, after controversial journalist Glenn Greenwald was struck by a supporter of far-right Brazilian autocrat Jair Bolsonaro, Bennett posted on facebook that “the slap was mine, too! Should have thrown a punch,” before he deleted the post and publicly apologized. Marvel’s reticence to stop using Bennett on their books has been troubling, and has required, for my part, a certain willingness to hold my nose when analyzing this series. Whether or not this particular instance was at his initiative, I felt it needed to be mentioned.

 

 

So now somebody apparently on the left of the political spectrum takes notice? Why not before? IMHO, objections to antisemitism will be more effective if you show concern over other forms of racism too, including anti-white sentiment, as occurred in issues 9-10. Did it ever occur to anybody that if they’d raised the issue of animosity towards whiteness turning up in a previous tale, they might’ve prevented this latest embarrassment from occurring? And while I’m sure Bolsonaro’s no saint, I think that far-right labeling was uncalled for, and have to wonder if this topic was raised because artist Bennett’s perceived as a right-winger? Notice how simultaneously, Greenwald’s described as controversial, suggesting the writer’s got a problem with Greenwald’s own support for right-leaning sites like Breitbart, and is against censorship. The site writer also says:

 

ZR: I know I’ve been tough on this issue, and more critical than I’ve been toward this series in the past. All told, there’s a lot to like here: Joe’s arc toward self-assertion and heroic humanism is moving, even despite the flaws in the storytelling, and the overall saga of this series continues to be among the best things Marvel is putting out. This issue is also an object lesson in how blind spots around race and religion can mar otherwise solid stories – and how even good creators can make big stumbles that no one manages to catch.

 

Well how come he didn’t catch onto the subtle anti-white insults several issues before? In fact, why no complaints about the LGBT propaganda in #22? What’s so solid about that kind of storytelling that they have to gloss it over? Is that even a healthy way of living? Is it even fair to women? Methinks these folks still have some reevaluation to do.

Shortly after, Marvel editorial and Bennett were contacted, and the following was posted:

 

“I’ve been including references to famous horror directors to pay respects to the genre throughout the series, and in Immortal Hulk #43, I included a nod to David Cronenberg. The misspellings on the window were an honest but terrible mistake – since I was writing backwards, I accidentally spelled both of those words wrong.

“I have no excuse for how I depicted the Star of David. I failed to understand this troubling and offensive stereotype, and after listening to you all, I now understand my mistake. This was wrong, offensive, and hurtful in many ways. This is a mistake I must own, and I am sorry to everyone who I hurt by this. I am working with Marvel to correct this, and I am using this lesson to reflect on how I approach my stories and my work.”

Additionally they stated “Marvel fully acknowledged this mistake was missed on our side as well, and that we’re correcting the art in digital, future printings, and collections.”

 

I’m afraid this still doesn’t address the anti-white insults hidden in the series by Ewing previously. It’s decidedly pathetic they’re only willing to address racial discrimination when it comes to descendants of the ancient Israelites, but not white society in general. And if they still uphold using the Muslim Ms. Marvel series for propaganda purposes as they did for several years, why should we truly believe they’re sorry for the stealth antisemitism in Immortal Hulk? A religion built on antisemitism and violence against “infidels” does not provide a good image for storytelling when you’re working on books built around characters originally developed by Jewish artists and writers. Nor for that matter does continued employment of a rabid anti-Israelist like Saladin Ahmed, who’s kept posting vile attacks on Israel for a number of years with no objections by Marvel staff, or anyone else allegedly concerned, for that matter. On which note, here’s a screencap of a message he wrote nearly 7 years ago:

 

 

As far as I know, this he may have deleted since, but he still continues at times to write repellent comments like those I’d spoken about previously, without any objections from Marvel editorial. In fact, while we’re at it, here’s another one that’s pretty odd in its own way:

 

 

 

Saban, once a children’s TV entertainment producer (though I can’t say I liked his “localizations” of several anime productions when he was active in the 80s and 90s) is an ultra-leftist supporter and donor and has been for many years, yet despite this Ahmed despises him.

 

How fascinating. And there’s a few more:

 

 

 

 

So Ahmed also perpetuates antisemitic libels against Israeli soldiers, that they’re nothing more than cold-blooded murderous creatures (and I won’t be shocked if his vision extends to Gal Gadot too, her own apparent leftism notwithstanding), lionizes a girl who committed assault, and also perpetuates libels against AIPAC. It may be dreadful if Bennett put in an insult in the pages of Immortal Hulk, but if that’s what XF’s writer thinks, why isn’t he concerned if Marvel’s still employing Ahmed? To complain about something like this now is coming awfully late when they’re still employing some of these overt antisemitic ideologues, the publisher’s dismissal of Ardian Syaf for his own offenses notwithstanding.

Here’s also leftist Rich Johnston’s coverage of this affair (and lest we forget, Johnston’s glossed over propaganda hurtful to Israel’s descendants before), and he notes:

 

The errors and wording were also overseen by Marvel, of course, and I understand that internally Marvel is acknowledging their editorial failure regarding this. The artwork will, as you might expect, be corrected for the digital version, as well as for future printings and collections. But there is no sign, yet, of the comic being recalled.

 

I wouldn’t go so far myself as to say it should be “recalled”, if that’s what he’s suggesting, if only because it’s ill-advised to advocate censorship. But if Marvel and the artist are to apologize for this particular case, how come they can’t do the same for their choice of employing Ahmed, based on his online driveling, and why don’t they apologize for the anti-white statements in earlier issues of Immortal Hulk, stealthed or otherwise? Why not for the anti-conservative sentiment they injected, along with the insults to Captain America? Come to think of it, why doesn’t Johnston apologize for his own apologia as well? IMHO, this is a pretty cheap example those criticizing the current issue are tackling.

The point is, those concerned about racial discrimination can’t just limit themselves to complaints about antisemitism and racism against Blacks and Asians. They also have to recognize that anti-white racism is just as noxious, and since much of the Israeli race is white themselves, that’s why antisemitism is only the beginning. So it’d do a lot of good if the folks at the XF site were to protest and argue against anti-white bigotry too, if they haven’t done so yet, and come to think of it, they’d be wise to avoid anti-conservative sentiment as well. We can’t remain locked in a past-based viewpoint where only select forms of racism are considered a serious concern, while others are not. And we have to make distinctions between ideologies too, including specific religions. Otherwise, antisemitism won’t be solved, nor will any other form of racial discrimination.

As for this volume of the Hulk, when it does get canned, I won’t feel sorry to see it go, based on what degrading politics it’s already been submerging itself in, along with the horror genre.

 

 

Originally published here.

Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1

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