Once again its the start of a new week which means its time for another recommendation, and this week im going back in time to a fully recognised classic from Marvels mutants to the great story ‘God loves, Man kills.’ This story is written by Chris Claremont, who redefined the X-men, and has artwork provided by Brent Anderson, and truly encapsulates everything that the X-men is is about the team stand for.
This story is a real break out for one of the X-Mens big villains, and is the real reason that William Stryker became a true threat to the mutant race. His complete vendetta against all mutants in this book, regardless of the cost of lives (both human and mutant) helped cement him as real threat going forward, and worked as social commentary at the time. The story also became immortalised in 2003, amongst non comic book fans, as it was loosely adapted into the Fox movie X2.
The book opens with a harrowing scene of two young mutants being gunned down, in the name of William Stryker for no other reason than being mutants. And this is the tone that is continued through the story, one of hate and violence against anything that is seen to be different. We learn the origin of Strykers hate in this book, which reveals he had a child born as a deformed mutant and for this kills both the child and the mother before pledging his life to eradicating all of mutant kind for being ‘abominations in the eyes of god.’ The book then see’s Stryker kidnap Xavier and force the X-Men to rescue him from the crazy hate filled preacher before he can use Xavier’s brain and cerebro to kill all of mutant kind.
The sheer dark hatred running through this book makes it a difficult read (for an 80’s comic book), yet a truly satisfying one as all of the characters are so well developed and the story provides a clear villain- who is so sure of himself and of his ways that at times you dont see him failing. This is also the kind of obstacle that the X-Men excel on facing, and look good doing so, as the book has always served itself best when it looks at how they truly deal with their differences and their struggle to find a peaceful co-existence. In ‘God Loves, Man Kills’ that is most definitely ever present, and the team banding together, even with Magneto shows the true enormity of the threat to mutant kind and just how well written and presented that threat was.
In terms of artistic interpretation the book doesnt leave anything out, from the bodies of school age mutants hanging in playground to the sheer numbers of Strykers follows preaching hate at a group of mutants everything is there for you to see, and displays emotion so well that you can truly feel the context of each panel and page. And the styling and colour work on the book truly match the dark tone and help to keep you engaged with that feeling of dread.
This is a must read book for fans of X-Men, and a must read for anyone who enjoys comics books- even if youve never read anything mutant related before.
That’s it for this week- so get reading and ill see you again next Monday