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Why You Should Read X-MEN: GOD LOVES, MAN KILLS

An X-Men story from the 80s that deals with heavy themes of discrimination and religious beliefs.

In the early 80s, Marvel released oversized graphic novels. Coming across the volume featuring X-MEN: GOD LOVES, MAN KILLS, it was one of the earliest X-Men stories I read. This was no ordinary X-Men story as it alluded to many ideas and situations occurring in the 'real world.'

X-MEN: GOD LOVES, MAN KILLS was written by Chris Claremont with art by Brent Anderson and was published in 1982.

The story begins with two African-American children on the run in the middle of the night in what appears to be a typical affluent suburb in Connecticut. Why is their race important? You'll see in a moment. We get our first introduction to the Purifiers. The children (and their parents) were killed because they were mutants. Their bodies are left propped up at the elementary school's playground, with the label "Mutie" written on them as a sign for the children at the school to discover them the next day. Magneto finds the bodies and is outraged.

The hatred of mutants in Marvel Comics is a metaphor for minorities in real life. We later find out that the Purifiers are a group belonging to William Stryker, the leader of the Worldwide Evangelical Stryker Crusade.

Along with the idea of discrimination, the story also focuses on extreme religious groups, whose mission is to try to spread their views upon others, by any means necessary.

Stryker is gathering intel on the X-Men. It seems he has a deep hatred for mutants and the stage is being set for his attack (we later find out why he hates mutants so much). With his crusade making bigger strides, his ideals come crashing into young Kitty Pryde's world as she gets into an argument over them.

This is where you get a huge example of what the issue really is here.

Stevie Hunter was a former ballet instructor who was a friend to the X-Men. She taught at the school and was a mentor to Kitty and the New Mutants. Kitty's use of a certain word may have been questionable, but again, it was to further illustrate the connection Claremont was trying to illustrate between mutants and minorities. Colossus immediately apologizes to Stevie saying she was upset and didn't mean it. Stevie's thoughts illustrate her feelings on the matter as well.

The action soon escalates as the X-Men and Stryker clash with each other. It's also worth noting that this was the beginning of Magneto's turn from being strictly a villain. There are a lot of heavy scenes contain here and this is a prime example when people assume comics were just silly books for children.

The ideas presented here are no longer new. We've seen Stryker return with his crusade. It is interesting to see how Claremont really brought attention to the hatred that mutants face. It was there before but this brought it to a new light.

You will get a a slight sense of the story being dated and, of course, we have a older incarnation of the X-Men. It is an important story to read. Many X-Men fans may have already read it as it has been reprinted a few times. For those that haven't, it's a nice piece of history in seeing when things started escalating for the X-Men. It wasn't just other mutants or supervillains they had to fight. They now had a new enemy, bigoted mankind.

X-MEN: GOD LOVES, MAN KILLS is one of those stories every comic fan should read. It's also one you could hand off to friends that think comics are just a bunch of characters fighting each other while wearing tights. There aren't many comics I would say are required reading as everyone has their own tastes. But this is a book that should be read.

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Posted by etragedy

It is one of the best X-Men stories ever written.
And even more 'cinematic' in presentation than the movie they based off of it.

Edited by G-Man

@etragedy: Ugh, I don't want to think about Stryker in the movie.

Staff Online
Posted by xtremekidx

I dont want to sound like a DC fanboy but are you planning on doing any DC event Why you should read?

Posted by Sakurafire

I remember reading this as a kid and not liking it. It was too different from the usual X-men stories (although the reinterpretation in the X-men cartoon series from the 90's was preferred back then).

However I've been collecting the Essential X-men volumes (this graphic novel is in volume 4) and found it to be a moving story. It's a real shame I didn't keep my copy when I was younger.

Edited by The Mast

"Kitty's use of a certain word may have been questionable"

Why? People are allowed to say the word. They just shouldn't call people it. If you are quoting it or using it as example, it's not questionable. "Nigger-lover" is a racial slur and she is simply asking, "What if he called me that?" It's not questionable use at all. She's highlighting how bad it is.

Posted by Parsifal24

I read this recently and it's what got me into the X-Men comics it's also kind of sad to read this and than see where certen charcters have gone in recent story lines (i.e. Cyclops)

Posted by k4tzm4n
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Posted by kid Apollo

loved this story when i first read it ( a few yrs now), loved the era, loved the members on the team, the 'International X-men' as i like to call them was by far my favorite X-men lineup.

i think the fact that this book in now 'dated' plays well, add the art, the dialogue of Stryker and some of the scenes when hes on tv and its super creepy and chilling

Edited by leokearon

A great story and a must read for X-fans, it's a shame it isn't a s well known as other X-stories

Posted by sweatboy

I'm liking this "why you should read" series of reviews. This gives me a to do list

Posted by StMichalofWilson

Cool

Edited by xtremekidx

@k4tzm4n said:

@xtremekidx said:

I dont want to sound like a DC fanboy but are you planning on doing any DC event Why you should read?

It's limited to just the Batman universe, but I made one for Hush.

Thanks guys..did not know about them!I really like to use them as a way to read some old stuff!

Posted by yo_yo_fun

I've never read an X-Men comic but I think I want to read this one.

Sounds like an intense story, I will definitely check it out!

Posted by TommytheHitman

If there's ever a "Why you should watch" Predator needs to be the first on that list. In fact make that now! In fact if I could I would make it myself. Nudge. Nudge.

Edited by dondave

I think I'll pick this up

Posted by Grimoire

Hmmm maybe I'll look this up.

Posted by 123cgm

god loves sinners. not sin, god is righteous, in making the sinner righteous.

Posted by bladewolf

Sounds interesting. I'll try to see if my local library has a copy (since they've got a great selection of older titles).

Posted by PhoenixoftheTides

I really liked this story because it elevated the X-Men from superheroes to actually being real characters who couldn't or shouldn't solve any problem with their powers. It reminds me more of a graphic novel with a clear storyline than a traditional American comic book.

Sidenote: I have always been disturbed by how Sprite/Ariel/Shadowcat/Kitty/etc. looks in the cover, though. It looks as if the artist forgot to draw her into the original composition and was only able to partially add her.

Posted by BennyB

Brilliant piece. Still as relevant today as it was back then.

Posted by Onemoreposter

Yeah this was a good one.

Posted by redhood21

I liked it. I liked it a lot....

@bennyb said:

Brilliant piece. Still as relevant today as it was back then.

Agreed. Anyone who says comics rot your brain and juvenile obviously haven't read any classic X-Men.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

In truth this is a story I've not read yet but am aware of. I've wanted to read it for some time. Thankfully my local library has it :)

Posted by tximinoman

Probably my favourite X-Men comic

Edited by tximinoman

@the_mast said:

"Kitty's use of a certain word may have been questionable"

Why? People are allowed to say the word. They just shouldn't call people it. If you are quoting it or using it as example, it's not questionable. "Nigger-lover" is a racial slur and she is simply asking, "What if he called me that?" It's not questionable use at all. She's highlighting how bad it is.

totally, I can't belive anyone else have pointed this out.

Posted by elkinscs

Just picked this up in trade recently. Can't wait to find the time to read it. Of course it's from the 80's, so I'll have to carve out a significant chunk of time, but it sounds like it's worth it.

Posted by oldnightcrawler

I really liked this story because it elevated the X-Men from superheroes to actually being real characters who couldn't or shouldn't solve any problem with their powers. It reminds me more of a graphic novel with a clear storyline than a traditional American comic book.

Yeah, this story isn't everything I like about the X-men, but it is one of the best examples of what I appreciate most about them. Truly a classic that every X-men fan should read.

Posted by The_Good_Mariner

One of the all-time great X-Men stories from THE all-time great X-Men writer. Great article.

Posted by tupiaz

The best all time X-Men story I have read.

Posted by thatlad

Cracking story, I can't think of any deeper, mrs meaningful marvel books

Edited by Twentyfive

Got it, love it. It is a great example of just how real, and grim comics can truly be.

As a matter of fact, it is one of the best X-stories ever.

Posted by Icon

loved this story when i first read it ( a few yrs now), loved the era, loved the members on the team, the 'International X-men' as i like to call them was by far my favorite X-men lineup.

i think the fact that this book in now 'dated' plays well, add the art, the dialogue of Stryker and some of the scenes when hes on tv and its super creepy and chilling

Totally agree.

Posted by Jmenna07

I love God Loves, Man Kills. It's one of the reasons I got back into reading comics and it served as the template for one of my favorite superhero movies.

Edited by ssejllenrad

@g_man said:

@etragedy: Ugh, I don't want to think about Stryker in the movie.


This guy, G Man?

Posted by charlieboy

This was a fantastic story. I read this when I was younger and I was just really moved by it. I definitely agree that it is a should read book. Not only for it's great story but for it's social relevance which still holds up today.

Posted by KomicKev

You know what I like about the X-Men from that era? There weren't so damn many of them!!!! I like how they used previously established X-Men characters (Cyclops, Banshee, Jean Grey), and just had a few more new ones (Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Kitty, Nightcrawler, a couple others), and then special guest spots or cameos by someone like Havok or Sunfire, etc. Now I need a scorecard to tell me who's who - - and I really don't even know all the mutants running around these days!

Posted by AgeofHurricane

The best X-Story ever written. Claremont during his more golden days. Epitome of everything the "Mutant" word stands for.

And that Kitty/Hunter scene was absolutely gold.

Posted by Rabbitearsblog

I absolutely loved this story!!! It's one of my top favorite X-Men stories of all time as it really explored the real horrors of racism and prejudice and attaching these issues to the fictional world of the X-Men. This was probably one of the best comics to actually tackle a real life issue with such emotion and realism.

Posted by soduh2

"God loves sinners. not sin, god is righteous, in making the sinner righteous"

God's love doesn't make a sinner righteous, it gives the sinner the opportunity to enter into righteousness.

The race/mutant metaphor doesn't work. And there's no reason why evangelicals would hate mutants.

Edited by oldnightcrawler

@soduh2 said:

The race/mutant metaphor doesn't work. And there's no reason why evangelicals would hate mutants.

why not?

Posted by soduh2

Because mutants are legitimately dangerous for one thing. Not just "different".

Posted by oldnightcrawler

@soduh2 said:

Because mutants are legitimately dangerous for one thing. Not just "different".

racism is legitimately dangerous.

anyway, I do see your point. That's why it works in a way that a story about strait-up racism wouldn't work, because you can see both sides of it without being a racist. But, in many cases (like some of the ones in this book), mutants aren't the target of prejudice because of their powers. Kitty once saved Nightcrawler from a lynch mob when he didn't even have any powers, and there's lots of stories like that in the X-men too, of mutants who are in need of the X-men's protection. Surely, if these mutants were actually dangerous, they would at least be able to defend themselves.

But that people can't tell the difference is part of why they're afraid, so, in that way, I suppose you're half right. I do think that the idea of mutants in the MU blurs the idea of racism, making it more complicated than it ever is in real life, but the idea that people should be judged based on what they do and not what they are remains a constant.

Posted by Miss_Garrick

I do need to read this book, the VERY important issues aside, since it takes place during what I think as the X-men golden age. Magneto slowly becoming a good guy, Rogue just joined, it was the 80's, and much more.

Thanks for reminding me G-Man.

Posted by Niki1988Ingram

I'll always love the X-Men

Posted by oldnightcrawler

I do need to read this book, the VERY important issues aside, since it takes place during what I think as the X-men golden age. Magneto slowly becoming a good guy, Rogue just joined, it was the 80's, and much more.

Thanks for reminding me G-Man.

it was actually a bit before Rogue joined, but still well within the golden age ('80-86, in my opinion). And, yeah, one of the first stories that paints Magneto as a truly sympathetic character. Definitely definitive stuff.

Edited by soduh2

"racism is legitimately dangerous."

Nice non-sequitur

With mutantkind there are rational fears and irrational bigotry. Unfortunately the Marvel universe treats both perspectives the same.

Posted by Mucklefluga

Seems impactful. I'll definitely check it out.

Posted by Yung ANcient One

I want to add that I've seen several post refer to this graphic novel on a bunch of different threads. I've been hearing nothing but great things about this book, so I know any so-called X-Fan should have read this.

( + )

Posted by Gritz217

@soduh2 said:

With mutantkind there are rational fears and irrational bigotry. Unfortunately the Marvel universe treats both perspectives the same.

I gotta agree with ya there. I like this story and the movie that it spawned, X2, but I gotta say; I really started to sympathize with the humans in the X-Men Universe when I really thought about how dangerous mutants really are. The racism/homophobia angle doesn't really stick too well when you think about the fact that Magneto has Earth's entire electromagnetic field at his disposal, Storm has the very weather at hers and has caused terrifying hurricanes when she was pissed, Wolverine is a freakin loose cannon with a healing factor with impossibly sharp metal claws, and let's not forget Professor X and the fact that he has abused his abilities before.

Real black people (and I am one) can't completely move the entire Golden Gate Bridge with our minds on a whim or destroy entire cities by simply sneezing. Slavery would have ended MUCH sooner if we could. XD

Rather than being about how racism and homophobia is wrong, the X-Men seems to be more about how humans are impossibly stupid and have death wishes, seeing as they keep picking on and pissing off these walking people of mass destruction. Seriously, would you piss off a guy who can blow things up by touching them?

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