Friday, January 20, 2012

Graphic Novels - X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills

Hey, all. It’s arw1985 and I’m back with another X-Men tale. I found this at the library and since it does have that “Greatest X-Men Story” title on it, I decided that it will be one of the books I’ll talk about this month. X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills was released as a graphic novel by Marvel in 1983. The creative team behind this long book was Chris Claremont and Brent Anderson, who were both good at what they did Claremont was the writer of the X-Men, and Anderson was a good artist (I don’t know what he has done). This story itself has been re-released in tpb form throughout the years. Some of the story was even used in X2: X-Men United, which is something I will get to next week. Now, it’s been said that this story is one of the greatest X-men Stories of all time. Do I agree? Well, find out below:

X-Men: God Loves, man Kills
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Brent Anderson

Synopsis (an abbreviated one) The story starts out as…two black children are killed by the Purifiers for being mutants. The kids’ bodies are left in a playground for all to see. Magneto comes across the site and swears that these children shall be avenged. We then meet Reverend (EH?) William Stryker as he and his Purifiers plan to destroy the X-Men.

After a little spat with a Stryker supporter, Kitty Pryde, Peter, and Illyana (Peter’s sister) head back to the mansion to see Xavier debate with Stryker on the news. Afterwards, they (including Logan and Kurt) head to the Danger Room to let off some steam. After the debate, Xavier, Storm, and Scott are driving back home when their car is attacked and blown up by the Purifiers. The Purifiers then take the three and blow the car up good. Later, the police call the mansion to tell the X-Men that that those three are dead, but they don’t believe it. While Kitty and Illyana stay at the mansion, Kurt, Logan and Peter check out the wreckage and find out that the bodies in the wreckage are not their teammates. They then are attack by Purifiers. Luckily, Magneto comes in to help and they capture the henchmen. They are able to find out about Stryker’s crusade against mutants. Meanwhile, Kitty and Illyana are attacked and kidnapped by the Purifiers.
Wolverine's only "BMS" moment in the book...soak all the awesomeness in!

We then find out why Stryker has had Xavier taken: he will brainwash Xavier and use his telepathy to kill mutants. He has Scott and Storm there as well. After we find out why Stryker is crusading against mutants in the name of God, We get back to kitty and the Purifiers. She is able to get away from them and contact the mansion. The X-Men and Magneto get to her as she is on her last legs. At Stryker’s headquarters, Xavier is brainwashed and kills Scott and Storm…or so we think. The x-men are able to get the bodies and resuscitate them. After Scott and Magnus argue their points, plans are made to save Xavier and to stop Stryker.

At Madison Square Garden, Stryker has gathered all of his followers and anyone who would listen to hear about how mutants are an abomination against God and need to be destroyed. It also turns out that he has Xavier and a copy of Cerebro in the building and he will use them to kill mutants. The X-Men go inside to stop Xavier while magneto takes on Stryker head on. Magneto is stopped by Xavier’s telepathy and the crowd tries to attack him. The cops (who are actually doing their job) stop them. As Stryker speaks, people begin to think he is …NUTS. They begin to doubt more as Stryker kills one of his main soldiers for being a mutant. Elsewhere, Scott is able to knock out Xavier and stop that plan. The X-Men then decide to go out on the podium and debate Stryker, by saying that mutants are human, just a little different. When Stryker points at Kurt and asks is he also human, Kitty stands up for him and says that if she had to follow Strkyer’s God or Kurt, she would side with Kurt. Peeved, Stryker grabs a gun and almost shoots it off, but a cop shoots him. The X-Men leave and the police let them.

A few days later, Stryker is arraigned on his charges. At the mansion, Magneto asks the X-Men and Xavier to join his cause. To a surprise, Xavier almost joins his old friend, but Scott (who is batting a thousand with awesome speeches) and the rest of the X-men refuse Magneto’s offer. Xavier then decides to stay and give their dream of peace between humans and mutants another chance. Magneto calls them all fools but wishes them luck. The story ends with Scott and Storm talking about things.

So what do I think of this story? Well, it may actually earn that “Greatest X-men Story” title. This is an awesome story. It’s an awesome hardcover as well that contains interviews from Claremont and Anderson. It also contains some unseen art from Neal Adams, the original artist on the book. There are a lot of good things to say about it, but I’ll say only a few:

Dark, realistic tone – This book has a real dark and gritty tone to it. That opening scene involving the kids basically sets that tone. Xavier’s delusion about being crucified and tortured by demonic versions of the X-Men, as well as a few other snippets, also add to this dark tone. Plus, with the story centering on making mutants a minority group, the book ends up have a real-world feel to it when you throw in things like racism, discrimination, and bigotry.

Threatening Villain - If there is one thing I regret about my top X-Men villains post, it’s that I didn’t put Williams Stryker (aka “Anti-Mutant bigot # 15”) on there. He could fit with the number one spot, but he still deserves a place on the list. He basically wages war on mutants by using only words. Unfortunately, those words are from the Bible. Add the fear and hate that humans already have and you get a pretty menacing villain. He also gets fleshed out with an origin on how he became like this. I do wonder what a debate between him and Nightcrawler would go…

Good Art - The art is well done in this book. One thing that adds to the dark, real tone of the story is the art. The inks and coloring kind of gives the story that grim, dark feel. One thing I think is a negative on the book is that Neal Adams did not do the artwork, but it’s more nitpicky than anything. If you’ve seen any of his work, you know that it is the stuff of legends.

Real Accessible - This book is real accessible when it comes to story and its characters. You don’t get burdened with a lot of trivial facts about the X-Men or Magneto. Things that were happening in the X-Men book at the time don’t matter here. You don’t need to know that Illyana is a seven year old in a thirteen year old body. You don’t need to know Cyclops left the team for a while. You don’t even need to know that Storm (at this time) is the leader of the X-Men to enjoy this book. You just get the characters reacting to what’s at hand and being themselves while doing it. The only character who gets any back story is Stryker, and that’s needed because he’s a new character.

Like with JLA/Avengers, the book is a highlight itself. Still, there are a few things that I think are important to note:

That first scene – I won’t show the complete scene because it’s eff'ed up.  While the scene is horrible, I do think that it's  needed to show what the world of mutants is actually like when the X-Men are not involved.

Magneto: Hero of Mutantkind! – Here, Magneto is not the villain of the story. He doesn’t do anything remotely evil except interrogating some bigots. We also see Magneto’s point of view that shows that he thinks of himself as a savior of mutantkind in doing what he does.

"This explains it all!" – When you tick off Kurt Wagner, the team’s nice guy and Catholic, you know you have messed up.

“William Stryker: a real douche” – Just read his origin and see some of the insane stuff he does. You’ll see why I say that.
Me: Stryker....can I slap you now or do I have to wait?   

“Who knew the NYPD could actually do their jobs?” - In Madison Square Garden, the cops did their job and even helped out the X-Men in the end. Are they fearful of mutants? Maybe. But they still end up being the only rational humans in that building. I'm not posting the awesome pic because I can't show everything now, can't I?

“Cyclops: Man of Speeches” – Cyclops is kicking butt when it comes to long-winded speeches. The guy even keeps Xavier from going over to Magneto’s side. The guy’s awesome!
 Cyclops: I have a dream...someday I'll be cool again!


Whew, I'm done gushing over this book. Do I recommend you check this out? Oh yeah. Next time, I’ll be looking at something somewhat modern and different.


1 comment:

  1. This is an awesome review!!! I really enjoyed this book too as its one of my most favorite X-Men stories next to "The Dark Phoenix Saga!"