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Marvel Comics Censors King Conan #2 Artwork Following Accusations Of Native American Cultural Appropriation

In light of the backlash to a newly-introduced King Conan character sharing the same name as the historical Pocahontas’ private moniker and her sporting of a scantily-clad appearance, Marvel has officially edited the Jason Aaron creation’s first in-comic depiction, altering her wardrobe in an attempt to both distance her from Native American cultures and desexualize her appearance.

Source: King Conan Vol. 2 #3 “Conan’s Last Stand at the Edge of the World – Part Three: The Princess of Golden Ruin” (2022), Marvel Comics. Variant cover art by Jay Anacleto.

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Introduced by Aaron and artist Mahmud Asrar in February 16th’s King Conan Vol. 2 #2, the controversial character in question first made herself known to readers on the final page of the issue, watching the titular barbarian from a mountain top as she finds herself intrigued by the possibility that he may survive a night amongst the undead legions that inhabit her island home, the Golden Ruin.

Therein, the then-unnamed character can be seen clad in little more than a metal bikini, a billowing cloth ornament at her pelvis, and a headdress adorned with bird feathers.

Source: King Conan Vol. 3 #2 “”Conan’s Last Stand at the Edge of the World – Part Two: A Barbarian Father’s Lament”” (2022), Marvel Comics. Words by Jason Aaron, art by Mahmud Asrar and Matthew Wilson.

While the character’s debut caused little uproar, her subsequent appearance in the next issue – and more specifically the exposition given regarding her backstory – would.

Upon eventually meeting with Conan, the mysterious woman gives her name as Princess Matoaka and explains that she began live in an unspecified, fictional kingdom in South America, before her love for an explorer from the similarly fictional country of Acheron led to her home being raped and pillaged by his fellow countrymen for its treasure.

Source: King Conan Vol. 2 #3 “Conan’s Last Stand at the Edge of the World – Part Three: The Princess of Golden Ruin” (2022), Marvel Comics. Words by Jason Aaron, art by Mahmud Asrar and Matthew Wilson.

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Blamed for the ruin of her people, Princess Matoaka was then exiled, being set adrift at sea with a pile of treasure and cursed to serve, wherever she should land, as a diversion for all future would-be invaders of her home.

Though the entirety of Aaron’s story depicts fictional characters and locales, the Avengers writer came under fire on social media after some readers took offense to both the Princess’ sharing of a name with the real-world Pocahontas, who in her later life went privately by the name Matoaka, and her depiction as the victim of white explorers.

Source: King Conan Vol. 2 #3 “Conan’s Last Stand at the Edge of the World – Part Three: The Princess of Golden Ruin” (2022), Marvel Comics. Words by Jason Aaron, art by Mahmud Asrar and Matthew Wilson.

“this is active violence against us and our community,” wrote Final Space and My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Choose Your Own Ending staff writer Kelly Lynne D’Angelo, whose tweets in response to the character’s reveal were most widely cited by those proclaiming the character to be problematic. “the sexualization of a real young girl that was r*ped and killed young affects our murdered & missing indigenous women TODAY. you are backwards, sick, and should donate every penny you earned creating this to #MMIW”.

Archive Link Source: Kelly Lynne D’Angelo Twitter

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Eventually, said backlash would lead Aaron to issue an apology, writing in a March 2nd statement to Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston, “I made the ill-considered decision to give a character the name of Matoaka, a name most closely associated with the real- life Native American figure, Pocahontas.”

“This new character is a supernatural, thousand-year-old princess of a cursed island within a world of pastiche and dark fantasy and was never intended to be based on anyone from history,” he said. “I should have better understood the name’s true meaning and resonance and recognized it wasn’t appropriate to use it.”

Source: King Conan Vol. 2 #3 “Conan’s Last Stand at the Edge of the World – Part Three: The Princess of Golden Ruin” (2022), Marvel Comics. Words by Jason Aaron, art by Mahmud Asrar and Matthew Wilson.

“I understand the outrage expressed by those who hold the true Matoaka’s legacy dear, and for all of this and the distress it’s caused, I apologize,” he concluded. “As part of that apology, I’ve already taken what I was paid for the issue and donated it to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center. The character’s name and appearance will be adjusted for the rest of this mini-series and in all digital and collected editions.”

Source: King Conan Vol. 2 #3 “Conan’s Last Stand at the Edge of the World – Part Three: The Princess of Golden Ruin” (2022), Marvel Comics. Words by Jason Aaron, art by Mahmud Asrar and Matthew Wilson.

Making good on this promise, Marvel has now officially edited the Princess’ appearance in the digital release of King Conan Vol. 2 #2, replacing her golden outfit with a baggy tunic and her feathered headdress with one simply decorated with non-descript blue hair .

Source: King Conan Vol. 3 #2 “”Conan’s Last Stand at the Edge of the World – part two: A Barbarian Father’s Lament”” (2022), Marvel Comics. Words by Jason Aaron, art by Mahmud Asrar and Matthew Wilson ( via BleedingCool).

As of writing, it is unknown what the Princess’ new name will be, as Marvel has yet to update their digital release of King Conan Vol. 2 #3.

What do you make of this edit to King Conan’s artwork? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!

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