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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."

A Graphic Novel first published in 1982, God Loves, Man Kills is one of the most famous X-Men stories from the Claremont period. Writing in the midst of the rise of televangelists of the 1980s, Chris 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.

Taking on issues such as prejudice, religion and the growing Christian fundamentalism of the time, the story proved to be a hit and was one of the primary influences for the second X-Men movie, X2: X-Men United.


Tropes associated with God Loves, Man Kills:

  • Adult Fear: 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.
  • 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.
  • Badass Bystander: In the book's climax, Stryker aims a gun at Kitty when they confront him at Madison Square Garden. A shot is fired. But it turns out to be a random police officer working security. He shoots and arrests Stryker, believing the Reverend has gone too far if he's willing to kill an unarmed teenage girl.
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  • 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!" The scene currently provides the trope's page image.
  • 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.
  • 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 provides objection 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.
  • 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 animated series in the 1990s.
  • Faking the Dead: The Purifiers' fraud fools the police, but doesn't hold up to Wolverine's enhanced senses.
  • 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.
  • Manly Tears: Professor X, after the incident described in Moment of Weakness (below). Kurt teleports over with a handkerchief.
  • 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!"
  • 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.
  • Off-Model: In the one critical panel where Stryker points at Nightcrawler and denounces his "inhumanity", Brent Anderson forgets to draw his tail - a point which he specifically mentions in the notes for the re-release.
  • Offing the Offspring: Long ago, this is how Stryker dealt with his newborn mutant son.
  • Precision F-Strike / N-Word Privileges: The above-mentioned Armor-Piercing Question was considered highly controversial for its time thanks to Kitty's language.
  • 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.
  • Sinister Minister: Stryker is probably one of the best examples for 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.
  • 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 by 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.
  • 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 a number of mutants' murders.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 children. Stryker admits to an entire audience listening to his sermons that he murdered his infant son for being born visibly mutated and at the climax attempts to shoot the then 13-year-old Kitty Pryde himself.


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