clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Marvel Comics artist draws ire with ‘SJW Hitler’ tweet about the X-Men

After fan asked if the X-Men were “social justice warriors”

The X-Men on the cover of X-Men Gold #7, Marvel Comics 2017. Ken Lashley, David Curiel/Marvel Comics
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Jon Malin, the current artist on Marvel Comics’ Cable series, caught a lot of attention this weekend with tweets that many found confusing at best, and offensive at worst. Malin’s response came after a fan asked, “Aren’t the X-Men LITERALLY Social Justice Warriors?”

“Social justice warrior” is oft used as a pejorative to describe people who are outspoken in their progressive politics, particularly when it comes to race, gender and sexuality.

When Polygon reached out to Malin he clarified that this use was his intent:

The intent is to point out a largely loud and growing group on the far left who are commonly referred to as Social Justice Warriors or SJWs, the most extreme commonly support/use or are apart of fascist socialist/ communist/ anarchist groups like ANTIFA(Yes, the “anti Fascists”) and BAMN(By Any Means Necessary) that have been attacking moderates and conservatives. Nazis and SJWs are both ideologically driven, intent on silencing speech, SJWs continually call anyone that disagrees with them “Nazi’s, racist, sexist, homophobes” and advocate punching anyone the deem a “Nazi”, even the most rational of people like Ben Shapiro(Jewish) who is no threat but offers his opposing views freely. SJWs have been and continue to single out a group in the population by race, gender and sexual preference(despite this going against the very things they claim they stand for) primarily Straight White Men to openly bash and blame as the cause of societies ills much like Hitler did with the Jewish population.

I made this comparison the best I could in 240 characters on Twitter when asked if the X-Men were SJWs. I said Nazi’s were SJWs(using the SJW term they use so often against innocent people-- against them) and the firestorm went off.

When asked about another Tweet from the same evening, he had a similar response:

The nest of vipers comment refers to how these people have entered my industry which has been inclusive and diverse for decades and are nearly killing it. Comic shops are closing all over, sales are down because fans are tired of hearing from the creators and editorial Social Media feeds that that they are racist,sexist,homophobes, the comics have become openly politically SJW agenda driven including anti white/Trump and oddly enough people don’t want to read it and they don’t want their kids to either. As a creative endeavor we are being crippled by their influence, told to cover up women, not to let whites have dread locks because it is cultural appropriation... It doesn’t just stop there, the SJWs in the industry have openly said that “Make no mistake. Even if Trump loses, we will remember who supported him”(Name withheld), this is from an editor at the big 2 that is able to hire and fire and feels comfortable enough to openly discriminate against artists and writers and others that work freelance to create comics like myself. The same type of environment that encourages an X-Men artist named Ardian Syaf to hide anti christian/jewish messages in his X-Men book because the message is that it’s okay to discriminate as long as your on the right side of the political lines. And it goes on and on. we’re having to hide any views that might out some as even center left politically. They openly have tweeted against whites, men and have attacked the fan base calling them Nazi’s, told them to stop buying “their” books absolutely shredding the fan base. My fears are that this becomes something larger as this sterilization continues to sweep across arts and entertainment media and into public opinion. One voice. One correct answer.

Marvel Comics terminated its contract with Artist Ardian Syaf in last April of last year, after Syaf snuck references to a Koranic verse that is often used to express anti-Christian and anti-Jewish sentiment into pages of X-Men Gold #1.

Marvel has struggled over the past year with public reaction to the both the diversity, and lack thereof, of its titles. In April, the company’s vice president of sales made (and quickly retracted) statements the implied that Marvel was blaming a recent sales slump on an audience that didn’t want diverse books. At a New York Comic Con panel limited to retailers, a Q&A session erupted into a heated argument in which some retailers accused Marvel of tanking sales by making changes to classic characters, including the X-Man Iceman coming out as gay and Jane Foster taking the role of Thor. More recently, the company’s chief creative officer, Joe Quesada, publicly reassured fans who wanted diverse books that a wave of cancellations that appeared to affect books featuring queer characters, female characters and characters of color was not motivated by those books’ diverse content.

Marvel’s slumping sales over the past year have been a frequent topic of analysis and conversation in the comics community. The narrative that “diversity” is killing comics is an oft repeated one, but it’s a narrative that often ignores the company’s history with favoring the short-term sales gains of relaunches and retailer initiatives, cancelling books before they can gain a foothold in the increasingly relevant book market and ignoring readers’ “event fatigue.” While Marvel’s sales have slumped in 2017, DC Comics’ have stayed strong, and by some observations even “indie” publisher Image Comics has taken bigger bites out of the audience.

When asked about Malin’s tweets, Marvel offered an official response of “no comment.” Malin’s tenure on Cable was already announced to end with February’s Cable #154, and he is not on any upcoming ongoing projects with the publisher.

In the online conversation prompted by Malin’s tweets, comics commentators pointed out that the X-Men, obviously, fight for justice and stand up for the oppressed and marginalized against institutionalized discrimination and oppression — the antithesis of Nazi ideals. Some expressed outrage at Malin’s use of Jewish resistance in Nazi-occupied Europe as a prop in his argument. Others wondered whether it was time for DC and Marvel to enforce social media guidelines on creators.

In any event, a reader should be reminded that the X-Men were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, both Jewish-American men who served in World War II. Kirby in particular has Austrian roots and served on the European front — against actual Nazis.