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Comic Book / God Loves, Man Kills

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"Once more, genocide in the name of God. A story as old as the race."

X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills is a Graphic Novel published by Marvel Comics in 1982, one of the most famous X-Men stories from writer Chris Claremont's long run on the comics. Writing in the midst of the rise of televangelists of The '80s, Claremont and artist Brent Anderson presented a story with a new foe for the X-Men who stood out from previous villains: the Reverend William Stryker, a Sinister Minister who believes mutants are demons from hell that must be completely eradicated.

In 2020, Marvel released a 2 issue extended cut of the comic.

Tropes associated with God Loves, Man Kills:

  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • Happens early on in the novel, with Kitty punching out a fellow student for coming down on the side of Stryker's crusade. When Stevie Hunter, her African-American dance instructor, tells her his rhetoric was "just words", Kitty responds with an enraged:
      Kitty: What if he'd called me a nigger-lover, Stevie? Would you have been so damn tolerant then?!
    • Colossus apologizes on Kitty's behalf, but Stevie admits to herself that Kitty was right - she wouldn't have been so tolerant if someone of her race was insulted.
    • After watching Stryker kill his right-hand woman when she is outed as a mutant, Magneto asks "Is this then the Holy Word Reverend, that those who oppose you must die?"
  • As the Good Book Says...: Reverend Stryker is prone to this, albeit being a Sinister Minister villain he cherry picks verses to support his murderous views.
  • Asshole Victim: Anne, one of the Purifiers. Her death scene is a shocking moment since it shows Stryker as a Bad Boss, but she did personally execute two children at the beginning of the story. Even in-universe, everyone seems more shocked at Stryker's ruthlessness than upset about the fact that Anne died.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: The trio of Purifiers caught by the X-Men refuse to talk, so Magneto decides to handle the interrogation. What he does to them isn't pretty, but the Purifiers had previously killed children just for being born mutants, and were working on a plan of genocide.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: Stryker is aiming a gun at Kitty Pryde, his words indicating he intends to kill her. A whole panel is filled with the sound effect "Bang!" Next, we see a policeman holding a smoking gun, and a bystander yells: "That cop shot the reverend!"
  • Big Entrance: Magneto makes one of these at Madison Square Garden, partly to provide a diversion for the X-Men's attempt to rescue Xavier.
  • Bowdlerise: Kitty's use of "nigger" as an example in her angry argument against racial slurs and Fantastic Racism is censored in the 2020 expanded edition.
  • Brainwashed: Professor X is subject to brainwashing by Stryker's scientist into unwittingly attacking other mutants with his psychic powers.
  • Bullying a Dragon: A trio of Purifiers captured by the X-Men manage to go the extra mile from just attacking the X-Men to openly insulting Magneto, a supervilllain, terrorist, and known mutant supremacist when he talks about trying to get information out of them. Magneto's interrogation demonstrates why that was a mistake.
  • Bungled Suicide: After killing his newborn infant son and his wife, Stryker attempted to blow himself up but wound up blown clear of the explosion.
  • By-the-Book Cop: When Reverend Stryker is preparing to execute Kitty Pryde in public on national television to make his statement against mutantkind, he gets shot and detained by a nearby cop. Mutant bigotry or not, famous televangelist or not, no non-corrupt police officer would let someone shoot an unarmed teenage girl in cold blood.
  • Category Traitor: Watching Purifiers consider Stevie Hunter a traitor to the human race, as "she treats those mutie scum like real human beings".
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Magneto does... something to the Purifiers to make them tell the X-Men of Stryker's plans. (He appears to be using his powers to manipulate the Purifiers' armor to stretch them out, as if on a rack.) Only Nightcrawler objects to it. Also a case of Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work. Nightcrawler averts this when he takes his own prisoner (Stryker's brainwashing expert), preferring instead to use threats and his own demonic looks to intimidate the man.
  • Darker and Edgier: This story is pretty heavy stuff even by '80s Marvel comic standards, and it's definitely a bit darker than the regular X-Men title was at the time.
  • Dead Guy on Display: The two children murdered by Anne in the opening are strung up on a child's swing, with boards that say "mutie" around their necks.
  • Death of a Child: The story opens with two young children being hunted down and murdered for an accident of birth. Their parents were unable to protect them, having been murdered themselves, possibly in an attempt at Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Discriminate and Switch: Played for Drama: The comic opens with a black boy and girl being hunted and killed by the Purifiers because they're Mutants.
  • Dies Wide Open: Mark. Magneto later closes Mark's eyes for him.
  • The Dragon: Anne, to Stryker. It doesn't work out well for her.
  • Due to the Dead: The Purifiers leave Mark and Jill's bodies suspended from a swing set, each one labelled "Mutie"; a deliberate display for the schoolchildren. Magneto, arriving on the scene, lowers their bodies to the ground, removes the signs (crushing one with his power), and gently closes Mark's eyes.
  • Elite Mook: Some Purifiers are equipped with metal armor that have some sort of wrist-mounted energy weapon. However, they're utterly useless against Magneto, who can deflect their bolts and take apart their suits.
  • Enemy Mine: William Stryker's crusade against Mutants provides the need for Magneto to team up with the X-Men to confront him. This was the first instance of an alliance between Magneto and the team, which would later lead to bigger repercussions down the road, including becoming a regular event on X-Men: The Animated Series in the 1990s.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Magneto versus Stryker. Both are fanatical ideologues who are at least potentially genocidal in the pursuit of their utopias, but their philosophies differ sharply. To the Evilutionary Biologist Magneto, Stryker is a perfect example of atavistic bigotry and religious obscurantism, whereas the Knight Templar Stryker sees Magneto as a Darwinian monster and literally Satanic villain. The narrative seems to be subtly implying that Both Sides Have a Point, though Stryker gets more "onscreen" villainy in this comic.
  • Evil Genius: Philip, Stryker's lead scientist who is responsible for brainwashing Xavier and torturing Cyclops and Storm.
  • Faking the Dead:
    • The Purifiers make it appear like Professor X, Storm and Cyclops had been killed in a car accident, leaving behind burned corpses. It fools the police, but doesn't hold up to Wolverine's enhanced senses. Besides, he describes it as something that he'd do.
    • Later, when ordered to kill Storm and Cyclops after he was brainwashed, Professor X apparently obeys, though it turns out he just put them in a state that made them look dead (Magneto says it was on an unconscious level, as he couldn't do it despite this).
  • Fantastic Racism: Stryker believes mutants were created by Satan and must be destroyed.
  • Final Solution: Stryker's aim is to kill every mutant in the world. To that end, he brainwashes Professor X and uses his psychic powers in the attempt, though it's stopped.
  • Frame-Up: Anne's right-hand man Rocco tells Kitty Pryde that she will be framed for the death of a cop he shot.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The 2020 reprint adds a new framing sequence, with Kitty visiting Kate, a girl Magneto met in X-Men Black: Magneto, and telling her the story. Warden, an antagonist from X-Men Black, also appears in the new framing pages.
  • Hiding Behind Religion: What Stryker's really doing underneath the claim that mutants are demonic abominations to justify his excuse for killing them.
  • Hypocrite: Magneto is presented as one. Early in the comic, he rages against the villainy of the Purifiers for their Fantastic Racism against mutants. Which is fair enough, in objective terms—but rather rich coming from a supervillain who considers mutants the Master Race and is on the record killing and enslaving humans to further his own Super Supremacist ideology.
  • Inspiring Sermon: Reverend William Stryker, a Sinister Minister who is very anti-mutant. He makes impassioned speeches to crowds of his followers about his belief that mutants are the spawn of the devil, and need to be killed. He frequently engages in As the Good Book Says..., often by cherry picking quotes out of context and ignoring others that would condemn his actions.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Wolverine attempts his usual threat of unsheathing his claws by a man's face, with the third one under the chin. When it doesn't work, Magneto decides to make the Purifiers talk, and his methods are much less kind.
  • Last Words: Invoked by Stryker to Kitty as he points a gun at her when she chose her friendship to Nightcrawler over Stryker's God ("Let those blasphemous words, child, be your epitaph"), just before the cop shoots him.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Magneto is the X-Men's Arch-Enemy and a mutant supremacist, but he comes off much more sympathetically than Stryker in this comic. He is polite and cordial to the X-Men the entire time, and at one point even saves a police officer who was shot by the Purifiers. Stryker in contrast killed his wife and newborn son and later kills his own follower when he realizes she was a mutant.
  • Manly Tears: Professor X, after the incident described in Moment of Weakness (below). Kurt teleports over with a handkerchief.
  • Mercy Kill: In the flashback. After their car crash and the premature birth of their monstrous mutant child, a delirious Sergeant William Stryker killed his badly injured wife Marcie, so she wouldn't have to see the monster she'd given birth to before she died. Then he tried to kill himself. As it turned out, he failed, but the traumatic episode became his Start of Darkness.
  • Mission from God: Stryker is firmly convinced that God has tasked him with killing all mutants.
  • Moment of Weakness: After all else is said and done, Magneto uses the fact that the media is already trying to rehabilitate Stryker as proof to Professor Xavier that humans and mutants will never be able to know true peace as equals. Prof. X, badly shaken by his experiences, comes very close to agreeing. Only a Kirk Summation by Cyclops, who also reveals how much they all love and admire the professor, pulls him back.
  • Monumental Damage: In a Dream Sequence created by Stryker, Prof. X is crucified atop World Trade Center Tower 1. Averted when Madison Square Garden gets its roof yanked off by Magneto in his Big Entrance; as a watching senator observes, Magneto immediately "replaced the roof, good as new! He's made an entrance, not an attack!"
  • Mook Lieutenant: Anne has a second-in-command named Rocco, who assists in capturing Professor X, Cyclops and Storm and hunting for Kitty Pryde.
  • Neck Snap: What Stryker did to his wife after killing his newborn son.
  • Never My Fault: Stryker says in his backstory that his son's mutation was a curse from God, not because of his own sin, but because of his wife's.
  • Offing the Offspring: Long ago, this is how Stryker dealt with his newborn mutant son.
  • Police Are Useless: A rare aversion in a superhero comic; a nameless cop shoots Stryker to keep from shooting Kitty.
  • Precision F-Strike: Kitty uses The N Word to make a point to her African-American dance teacher why the slur Mutie is unacceptable to her. It's uncensored in the original, but gets a Censor Box in some reprint editions.
  • The Real Heroes: A random unnamed cop that had been at the rally the whole time shoots Stryker and arrests him the moment he tries to gun down Kitty Pryde.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The police watching over Stryker's rally comment on their disbelief over his message and later step in to help the X-Men. Another reasonable authority figure is the unnamed senator in the audience. Said senator also turns out to be a mutant, unbeknownst to himself or others.
  • Shooting Superman: When Magneto shows up with the X-Men to save Kitty, the Purifiers try shooting him. The results are predictable with him deflecting all of their fire.
  • Sinister Minister: Stryker is probably one of the best examples of this trope to come from Marvel: a fanatic who believes that God wants him to wipe out every Mutant in the world under the idea that Mutants are created by Satan.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Stryker does not go down in a final brawl with the X-Men. He pulls a gun on an unarmed girl in front of a massive crowd, including several police officers, and is shot and arrested by one of the cops. Spouting racist rhetoric is not illegal in the United States. Unprovoked attempted murder, on the other hand, is.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Anne, Stryker's most loyal Purifier, is a mutant herself (though we never find out what her powers are). This revelation goes about as well as one would expect with Stryker.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The X-Men want information from you. Magneto approaches, looking a little reluctant as he alludes to the possibility of torturing you. You address him with a racial epithet ("mutie", to be precise). How could you possibly expect that to end well?
  • Torture Always Works: Magneto's torture of the captive Purifiers elicits the information the X-Men need about Stryker's plans.
  • Ugly Hero, Good-Looking Villain: After watching Xavier's debate with Stryker, Cyclops is disturbed by the fact that Xavier looks severe and almost scary, while Stryker is handsome and personable. Stryker actually banks on this, using Nightcrawler's demonic appearance to justify his crimes and hatred but Kitty shoots him down with an epic speech citing Kurt's kindness and nobility, while Stryker is a murderous psychopath.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Stryker becomes unhinged when his loyal aide Anne is revealed as a mutant and turns against her, killing her. Previously, he was an intelligent, patient and charismatic villain, to the point of being Affably Evil; after this, he completely loses it and becomes a crazy, ranting fanatic for the rest of the comic. This makes sense, as Stryker believes mutants are demons, and finding out Anne is one is, to him, finding out that his trusted number two is The Mole - he probably thinks Anne has been spying on him all along, which is enough to make anyone paranoid.
  • Villainous Rescue: The X-Men are in the process of losing their first fight against the Purifiers, when all of a sudden the Purifiers' high-tech metal suits are shredded and turned into mummifying bonds. Enter the X-Men's then-foe, Magneto.
    Magneto: Sheath your claws, Wolverine. Magneto is here as a friend...and, if you'll have me, an ally.
  • Villainous Underdog: The Purifiers are well-funded but are clearly out of their league against the X-Men, mostly posing a threat when attacking them individually or through ambush.
  • Villainous Valor: To escape Magneto and the X-Men, and report their doings to her mentor, Stryker's dragon Anne pries open the doors of a runaway elevator and leaps a perilous distance down to a roof. Stryker himself displays a surprising amount of courage, charisma, and commitment to his cause.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Stryker is a televangelist popular enough to fill Madison Square Garden, and his "crusade" has many supporters. He's also responsible for the killing of at least two mutants by his followers.
  • We Have Ways of Making You Talk: Nightcrawler uses this (with the panel focusing on his teeth) to force Stryker's lead scientist to give up the location of Cyclops and Storm.
  • Would Hurt a Child: In the very first scene, Purifiers murder two young mutant children. Much later, Stryker attempts to shoot the then 13-year-old Kitty Pryde himself. A later flashback also reveals that the young Sergeant William Stryker, shocked and concussed by a car crash, killed his own prematurely born child when he delivered it and it turned out to be a horribly deformed mutant. In his delirium and despair, he thought it was a literal devil.