A deleted cartoon by Joe Bennett, drawn in 2017, resurfaced online this week and caused much consternation. It features Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil, on horseback, wielding a sword to behead political opponents, including former Brazilian Presidents Dilma Rousseff, Michel Temer, and Luiz Inácio da Silva, as well as Senator Aécio Neves amongst other political figures, seen as rodents and vermin. A number of people online have seen this as reflecting anti-Semitic tropes and have spoken out about the visual language being used by Bennett. That now includes Al Ewing, writer on the five-year run on Immortal Hulk that Joe Bennett has drawn, which is to conclude next month in Immortal Hulk #50. As well as writing extensively for Marvel Comics in recent years, Al Ewing is well known for his work on 2000AD and his new creator-owned series We Only Find Them When They're Dead. Al Ewing tweeted out the following earlier today.
"There's an image doing the rounds that Joe Bennett drew back in 2017. I won't link to it, but I have seen it, and it's reprehensible. If you've seen the image, you know what it is. An armoured swordsman, which I assume represents Bolsonaro given Joe's commentary, slaughtering tiny, scurrying people, with the buck teeth and ears of rats. And big noses. One of them is cosplaying Dracula. I'm assuming these are political enemies of some kind, but even if not, the tropes are apparent. Human beings as vermin being exterminated. Even if it's no longer up, that it was drawn in the first place, signed, and so proudly displayed by Joe speaks volumes. This isn't the first issue with Joe that I've been made aware of. I've spoken behind the scenes, but that's no comfort to people at the sharp end of this kind of brutal propaganda. My lack of public visibility on this has let people down, and I apologise. In the interests of adding some material action to that apology, I've made donations to Rainbow Railroad and the Rainforest Trust. I understand if that feels like an empty or insufficient gesture for those reading this. Immortal Hulk is done, but I won't be working with Joe again. If people choose not to pick up my work with other artists in the future on the basis of my handling of this, I understand and accept that. If I've lost your trust, that's on me. I can't speak for Joe on this. He can speak on it for himself. But I will say that it's not up to him – or me – what those hurt by his behaviour in the past should be willing to accept from him now. He's made his bed. With all this said, I'm probably going to remain off Twitter myself for now, and not read or reply to mentions for a while. Again, if that feels insufficient, I understand. Thank you for reading."
This also follows similar accusations in previous issues of Immortal Hulk, which Bennett apologised for and blamed on errors. Previously he expressed support for a Bolsonaro-supporting journalist who assaulted journalist Glenn Greenwald, though he deleted it and apologised to Greenwald afterwards.
Joe Bennett has not chosen to comment on this current accusation, and is currently still slated up to draw the Marvel event one-shot Timeless, alongside Mark Bagley and Kev Walker, written by Jed MacKay, intended to line up Marvel storylines into 2022, as Marvel NOW, Incoming, and Marvel Comics #1000 previously did. That might, of course, change.