The X-Men take on racism, segregation, bigotry, and discrimination; it’s brilliant!
When anyone argues with me about the legitimacy of comics, I quickly point them towards a couple of my favorites: Maus, Watchmen, and X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills. Taking on the topic of racism is no easy task, such a sensitive subject can be hit-or-miss with the public. Well, the graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills takes on an age-old topic, with a mutant twist, and teaches us a lot about ourselves as human beings and how we treat each other.
In this 1982 Marvel graphic novel, by Chris Claremont and Brent Anderson, the X-Men and their most spiteful enemy, Magneto, must team up for a greater good, to fight those who threaten them and their safe, free-living, future. While talking about such an intense topic, why not start strong, right? From the start, even just from the title, we are punched in the chest with anti-mutant subject matter, throwing us quickly towards the right side of equality. I honestly can’t say I’ve been more affected by a line in a graphic novel than when Kitty Pryde angrily questions the argument “suppose he’d called me a nigger-lover, Stevie?! Would you be so damn tolerant then?!!” Boom, little teenage-mutant-invisible-Kitty just let it all hang out.
With a struggle between the X-Men and Reverend Stryker ensuing, we start to see the difference between the two sides and how they take on their opposition. On one hand, the X-Men want equality for all, not superiority by the more superior human beings (because after all, the mutants are homo-superiors), and they aim to get their point across by peaceful discourse, not fighting. And on the other hand, we have Reverend William Stryker, who has already gone ahead and hunted, murdered, and imprisoned mutants, with a message of “rid the world of mutants” for the future safety of the homo-sapiens.
This message of peaceful discourse reverberates throughout the X-Men’s argument, giving them the higher road win for mutants all around. But even after the defeat of such a horrifying man like Reverend Stryker, we are left with the looming idea that it was not the man who needs to be defeated, but the idea in general. The X-Men here are not fighting a man with a terrible view on mutant-kind, they are fighting for a safer future, with equality for all, not fear and hatred towards a race misunderstood. I think this graphic novel does well to put forth that outlook, that men can be beaten, especially by the X-Men, but that it is more important that people understand what is right and what is equal for all, that they beat that inner demon and treat everyone with sincerity and care, no matter their color, background, or an added X-gene that some possess.
Definitely a worthy read, with a powerful message. And the next time someone says comics are for kids, throw them this bad boy. You’ll shut them up real quick.
– Nahuel F.A.