Welcome! I’m Chris Swartzlander, author of Tripping Over Reality: The Death and Origin of a Hero. Let me just say, I am honored to have been asked by Mr. Strange to do some comic reviews on his site. I agreed to it only if I could review older books and story arcs, hoping that neophyte comic book readers would be tempted to hunt down some of these classic books in order to more fully appreciate this truly American art form. Aww…who the hell am I kidding? I just like to type things about old stuff.
My first review is of Marvel Graphic Novel #5; X-men: God Loves, Man Kills by Claremont and Anderson. Aaaand we’re off!
It was around mid-2002 when I learned that X2 (Fox’s second X-men feature) was going to be based on one of my favorite comic stories, Marvel Graphic Novel #5: X-men: God Loves, Man Kills. I was so crushed when, in true Hollywood form, the film barely resembled its source. A note to studio writers working on comic book movie screenplays: There was a reason these classic comics sold millions of copies, and it wasn’t because the stories were bad.
Marvel Graphic Novel #5: X-men: God Loves, Man Kills (AKA: The Longest Title For a One-Shot) opens with a shock as we see two mutant children brutally slaughtered by members of a group calling themselves the Purifiers. Magneto soon arrives on the scene, understandably upset at the sight of more of his mutant brethren killed in the name of intolerance. Enter REVEREND Stryker, a televangelist that preaches hate.
The good Reverend, a very rabid anti-mutant crusader, first appears as he debates mutant rights with Professor Xavier on live television. Soon, Stryker’s connection to the Purifies is revealed as he begins his bid for complete mutant annihilation. Magneto and a legendary X-men roster find themselves forced into a team-up in order to stop the Reverend’s diabolical plans! Will their combined forces be up to the task, or is this the beginning of the end for mutantkind?
Wow! When I read this prestige format comic as a teenager, shortly after it came out in 1982, it blew my mind. Chris Claremont’s work on the X-men was at its apex. Not only did he play all the familiar superhero notes on the main story line like a true maestro, but his solid, continued work on character growth and world building were the true stars of the show. Using the starkest of language and clearest of terms, Claremont also presented us with an unflinching condemnation of bigotry. All of this added to his use of an extreme evangelical as the flag-bearer of prejudice and hate…hell, this story reads like today’s headlines.
Brent Eric Anderson provided the art for the book. While he’s not one of my go-to artists, his moody, stylistic approach lent itself well the darkness of the prose. It is especially effective during the Professor X hallucination sequence.
This book is a timeless classic that you really should pick up. Not only is it an incredible part of comic history, but it was one of the bricks used to pave comic’s road to relevance. I think you will be moved by the emotions it stirs and the self-reflection it elicits.
Oh…and you script writers from earlier..stop sifting through the sand and throwing away the gold. Everyone else…GO OUT THERE AND READ SOMETHING!!!!
If you have an Idea of a classic single book or story arc you’d like me to review then let me know!