Thursday, October 09, 2008

Marvel-ous (Throwback): X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills (1982)

Peace and blessings,

I wanted so share a few thoughts on my favorite comic book story as of yet, and arguably one of the most significant comic book stories to date:
  • X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills.
  • For those of you who are familiar with the X-Men, you know that the main themes their comics address are prejudice, discrimination, and intolerance. The X-Men are humans who were born with special abilities, abilities that typically manifest during adolescence. The X-Men's goal to achieve peaceful co-existence between mutants and humans. Their pursuit of this goal is often met with three types of opposition, two of which are external and explicit, and the third type is internal and more subtle. The external opposition comes from humans and mutants alike, with many humans fearing and hating mutants, and some mutants who are either (1) bent on world domination (2) view the X-men as compromising sell-outs to the mutant race or (3) agree with the principles the X-Men stand for, but disagree with their method. The internal opposition, although less often and less prevalent, is a result of striving long and hard for a dream and ideal that often seems unattainable. Many members have left and came back, and many have left with no intent on coming back. Even those who are longstanding members have times where they doubt whether or not their work is really making a difference. I doubt that there is one person who has not experienced at least one of these types of opposition...

    Ok, so on with the story. It starts off with two children (they look African American), a little girl with her older brother, being chased in a playground at night. They are eventually caught by their pursuers and are basically told that their birth justifies their death (i.e. because they are mutants, they do not deserve to live). Amidst the children's crying and pleading for their life, they are shot in cold blood and hung from the swings in the playground...

    It would take too long to describe the entire story, but the opening pages lets you know that this is no "fun-times, slapstick" comic. In a nutshell, the story is about a man named William Stryker (a human) who, after finding out his wife (also a human) gave birth to a mutant, killed the child and wife, and covered it up. Shortly after wards, he claims to have received a calling from God telling him that his purpose in life is to eliminate the mutants from the earth, and to let them know of their wretchedness. He then becomes a minister and creates this multi-million dollar world-wide ministry organization to achieve those ends. His foot soldiers (a group of vigilante humans who "enforce" Rev. Stryker's hate doctrine, and who killed the two children in the opener), are called the Purifiers (yes, that's their name). Rev. Stryker eventually hears about the X-Men and believes that they are not God's children, and are actually the devil's children. After the X-Men eventually thwart Rev. Stryker's attempt to destroy them, they have a debate on national television about whether or not mutants are God's children.

    This comic not only resonates with me as an African American, but as a Christian. As an African American because historically and in many ways presently, we have been treated like those mutant kids at the story's opening. As a Christian because historically and presently, "faith" and "conviction" can be the driving catalysts in developing a "Purifiers-type" mentality. Historically, groups such as racial minorities (Africans, Indians, etc.) have been brutalized and dehumanized under the umbrella of "Christianity," while presently homosexuals, those of other religions, and atheists are viewed as "ungodly" (and treated as such) by people operating under that same umbrella. Now I'm not pointing fingers, and I know that I personally have to work on being too judgmental towards others. I believe that as humans, we are all capable of distorting the bible and Jesus' teachings to achieve our own selfish ends. However, I also believe that we need to learn from the mistakes learned in the past, and how these learning experiences can be used to more accurately represent the scriptures and Jesus' teachings in our present day relationships,communities, and spheres of influence.

    It seems to me that Jesus was showing us how to live above the tendencies that have so often plagued us since Adam and Eve sinned, and that were so clearly on display in Chris Claremont's "God Loves, Man Kills." The more that we as humans start looking at each other as children of God, as having a creator who gave each creation His imprint, then I believe the better equipped we will be to face the challenges that face us in the present, as well as those we will encounter in the future. As we move forward, let's choose the capacity of God's love over our capacity for sin, because nothing good ever came out of fear and hatred for those who are different (e.g., with regards to ethnicity, point of view, life experiences, etc.).

    What do you think? Have you read "God Loves, Man Kills?" If so, what do you think? If not, any general thoughts? Take care and speekonit...

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