In a move that some would say is long overdue, Marvel Comics severed ties with artist Joe Bennett after readers accused him of anti-Semitism for a political illustration he made several years ago.
The editor confirmed last week that Bennett would no longer work for the company following controversy surrounding the design, which Bennett allegedly pulled back in 2017. It shows Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro riding a horse with a sword in his hand as he threatens caricatures of his political opponents, including former presidents Dilma Rousseff, Luiz InÃ¡cio da Silva and Michel Temer, and veteran lawmaker AÃ©cio Neves. On Bolsonaro’s chest is the symbol of the Brazilian Republic, and the red flags of his enemies are the PT, a left-wing organization in Brazil. Bolsonaro’s enemies are shown with big noses and jagged teeth, images that some people, including this writer, considered it anti-Semitic.
We’re not showing the picture, but what Bennett drew speaks for itself, and there is no defense for his disgusting imagery.
Thanks to Marvel for taking decisive action here. The company has not only said it will no longer be commissioning the popular artist, but it has also fired Bennett from the next issue of the special event. Timeless # 1, which was just announced a week ago with Bennett as one of the cartoonists. This comic, due out in December, should be an introduction to the future of the Marvel Universe. In the updated press release, Greg Land replaced Bennett. Artists Mark Bagley, Kev Walker and Kael Ngu, as well as writer Jed MacKay, remain on the book.
But here’s the question I ask myself: why did it take so long? This is not the first time that Bennett has been accused of drawing offensive material. It’s not even the first time This year it happened.
In February, he was forced to apologize after readers of his hit and Al Ewing Immortal hulk series noticed that the number 43 had a panel with a jewelry. In the background, the store’s name is spelled backwards and reads “Cronemberg Jewery” with a Star of David below. The reason the lettering was insulting is obvious. But perhaps even more offensive was the Star of David on the jewelry store window. It had no bearing on the story and there was no indication that it was a Jewish-owned business. For some, it was just the perpetuation of a Jewish stereotype in this situation.
Bennett’s apology – which was posted on his Facebook page and has since been made private, but which this writer has personally seen – said in part that he “had no excuse for the way I portrayed the Star of Davidâ¦ and after listening to all of you. , I now understand my mistake. It was wrong, offensive and hurtful in many ways. It is a mistake that I must admit … “
It all followed what some would say is a questionable social media pattern of behavior for Bennett that makes it difficult to give him the benefit of much doubt.
Once this story became successful on social media, Bennett, in addition to apologizing, claimed he had no idea using the Star of David in this context would be offensive. Marvel followed suit by admitting that the offensive image should never have been printed – it was likely seen by at least six Marvel staff before its approval – and then removed the images from the digital editions of issue # 43. and any future reprints.
Writer Al Ewing, who wrote this issue, has not commented publicly on the issue 43 controversy. He did weigh in on Bennett’s political illustration last week, however. On Twitter, Ewing wrote a series of tweets where he called the image “objectionable” and noted that the tropes it presents are obvious. He also added this:
Ewing added that he would no longer be working with Bennett, a statement that to me seems insufficient.
Stating that you’re no longer going to work with a guy who drew hateful pictures right after you’ve completed a very successful series on a book shouldn’t get you a pat on the back. Frankly, I’m still amazed that Ewing didn’t say anything after what happened with number 43. He’s one of Marvel’s greatest writers, so I don’t think the fear of being reprimanded by management is a legitimate reason to keep quiet. He even recognizes his own silence in his tweets.
To be clear, Ewing is not faulty about Bennett’s works. It’s all about Bennett. Whatever his intention, the artwork he created offended people with his fanatical images. Now, it has cost him a working relationship with Marvel that stretches back over 25 years. Welcome to experience the consequences of your own actions.
No matter how much talent you may have, at some point you become more of a handicap than an asset with actions like these. It doesn’t matter how many books they sell or how well that person meets their deadlines. There comes a time when enough just has to be enough. Looks like it’s reached that point with Bennett, at least at Marvel.
I say it’s time.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY or NBCUniversal.