X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #25

Issue Date: 
July 2003
Story Title: 
God Loves, Man Kills II - part 1

Chris Claremont (writer), Igor Kordey (artist), Salvador Larroca (cover), Scott Hanna (inked), Liquid! (colors), Tom Orzechowski (letters), Mike Raicht (editor), Mike Marts (supervising editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

The prisoner named William Stryker is being led to a plane by armed guards to head back to his asylum in the East. After the plane takes off, a surprise assailant kills all the officers on the plane and radios in a distress call blaming the X-Men. Going back into the plane, the assailant reveals herself as Lady Deathstrike to Stryker. The two embrace, but their embrace is cut short when one of the officers awakens and shoots at them. The shot misses and Yuriko kills the officer and causes them to fly out the plane hatch, holding one another. The plan explodes and crashes in the Rockies, near Montana. While this transpires, in Kentucky, Sam is showing off his county to his new teammates on the X-Treme team. During a game of cat and mouse, Sage views a news report about the crash of the plane and the team moves out to check on the accident. In Chicago, at the same time, Kitty Pryde visits her psychiatrist, who talks to her about her hatred for people that believe in the ideals of people like Stryker. The team arrives in the Rockies where they find evidence of Lady Death Strike’s involvement. The team is ambushed and everyone, except for Bishop and Storm, are captured. While the X-Treme team face their demise, back in Chicago at the bar Kitty works at, she is attacked by Lady Deathstrike and given to Stryker for his own purposes.

Full Summary: 

Prisoner William Stryker is being led to a military jet, in preparation for a speech he will soon give about human rights. While that is happening, in Cumberland County, Kentucky, the X-Treme team watches, as Sage looks over classified documents on one of the X-Men’s most deadly of enemies, William Stryker! Sage reads the report about how Stryker was just recently on the coast, ministering to a death row inmate that is being held for mass murderer named Aaron Pankow. Sage tells the others that Pankow was executed last night and now Stryker is headed back East. Sage tells Wolverine and Bishop, who are sitting behind her on a couch, that she wishes confessionals weren’t private, so they could know what the two of them discussed. Logan tells Tessa that the two were just probably comparing body counts. Bishop asks Logan who the man called Stryker is. Logan answers that Stryker is old news and he came and went before Lucas’ time. Tessa tells Lucas that Stryker came probably the closest of any of their foes to making mutant-kind extinct. Logan, smiling, tells Sage that Stryker is old news and he wants her to shut down her “toys,” so they can go have fun.

At the SeaTac International Airport in Seattle, Washington, armed guards protect Stryker as he boards the military plane to head back East. In the plane, an officer apologizes for the inconvenience the shackles cause Stryker. Stryker tells the officer that he appreciates the thought. While the officer shackles Stryker’s ankles and wrists, in the cockpit, three officers discuss why Stryker was placed in jail in the first place. One of the officers tells the pilot that he thinks Stryker was doing a good thing in trying to kill mutants everywhere. The pilot, not caring either way, tells the other soldiers that it is not up to them to decide his punishment and they need to just do their job and fly him back East.

Two hours out on the plane ride, the pilot radios back their coordinates to Denver-Center. After the radio call, the pilot begins to talk to his co-pilot about his upcoming trip with his family to sk… he doesn’t finish his conversation, as he is gutting by his co-pilot’s claws. Behind the co-pilot/assailant, Artie turns to see what the commotion is. In response, the assailant uses her claws to chop off Arties’ head. Looking at her bloodstained nails, the assailant wipes off the blood and radios a distress call. In the call, she tells Bozeman-Center that their plane was just attacked by the X-Men and, screaming in supposed pain, she ends the transmission.

Walking back to where Stryker is kept, the assailant kills the two guards and slices through the chain-link fence, smiling as she walks towards Stryker. Stryker begins to pray Psalms 23 but, instead of the assailant killing him, she cuts his chains allowing him free movement. The assailant begins to take off her clothes and tells Stryker that he left out “goodness” and “mercy” from his prayer. The lady takes her uniform off, revealing that she is Lady Deathstrike.

Stryker tells Deathstrike that in war there must be made sacrifices. Yuriko (Deathstrike) tells Stryker that her faith walks a different road than his. The two embrace and Stryker tells her that their causes, however, are the same. He also asks her what happens to them now? Behind them, an officer holds up a gun and tells the two of them to get on their bellies or he’ll shoot! Yuriko speedily throws a throwing star, striking the officer in the head. The gun he was holding goes off, causing the cabin to decompress, and Yuriko commands Stryker to hold onto her. The plane begins to shake as the entire cabin is thrown out into the air. Stryker asks, as Yuriko holds onto him, keeping him in the plane, if this was part of her plan? Yuriko tells Stryker not to be an ass and the wind will not last long. Yuriko tells Stryker to keep his head down and her armored body will protect him from flying debris.

Bodies of the dead soldiers fly past Yuriko and Stryker, as an explosion from the side of the plane causes them to realize that an engine has been hit with debris and the plane is about to explode. Yuriko asks Stryker if he is afraid of death. He tells her that he isn’t, but his work must be finished first. He asks her if she has a plan? Letting go of the seat she was holding onto, sending them flying out the hatch, she tells him that she has never let him down before. The plane explodes leaving nothing but debris falling to the ground.

In Kentucky Bishop, Sage, and Wolverine look out over the mountains discussing their beauty, but the fact some of it is strip-mined hurts the beauty of it. Logan comments how the land was paid with the blood of its residents and those residents now resemble the land they helped form. Feeling a breeze, Wolverine says that the three of them are about to receive visitors. Sage points out where the breeze is coming from and, suddenly, Sam appears in the air, blasting over his countryside. Cannonball waves down to the others as he passes and Bishop tells the others that the boy is pushing himself to the max. Logan tells Bishop that he wouldn’t want to call Cannonball a boy to his face. After Sam passes, Storm is not far behind and Bishop has to catch Sage, who begins to fly backwards.

Try as Sam might, he cannot shake Storm off his tail. Sam knows more about this area and he uses it to his advantage. Thinking that if he could turn his blast field off for a moment and allow himself to free fall, when Storm goes over, he can turn his blast field back on and tackle her. Sam does just that, narrowly missing the water below. Storm tells Sam that he did a nice job. Turning his move against him, Storm winds up holding Sam, instead of the other way around.

On the ground, Wolverine laughs at the predicament Sam got himself into. Behind Logan, Bishop notices Sage’s distant look and wonders what she is seeing through her hi-tech glasses. She tells the others that their playtime is over, because the plane William Stryker was flying in just exploded and the X-Men are being blamed.

In Chicago, at the offices of Dr. Maureen Lyszinski, Kitty Pryde talks to her about traumatic events in her life. During this appointment Kitty is talking about William Stryker and the events that transpired when he tried to annihilate all of mutant-kind. Kitty tells the doctor that Stryker believed he was doing the will of God, in destroying mutants everywhere. Taking a sip of her coffee, the doctor tells Kitty that she should know that Stryker’s philosophy is wrong. Kitty tells the doctor that to many people believe that Stryker is a martyr and Charles Xavier set him up. Kitty tells the doctor that Stryker placed a gun to her head and, if it weren’t for a cop shooting him, Stryker would have killed her.

The doctor looks at Kitty and asks if Stryker is dead. Kitty’s eyes’ glaring, she tells the doctor that she wishes Stryker was never born. The doctor asks Kitty how her feelings help her, being a super-hero? Kitty tells the doctor that she has never considered herself a super-hero, but the X-Men always thought of themselves as a place to train mutants and, occasionally, save the world from evil. The doctor comments on Kitty’s age of thirteen when she joined the X-Men and Kitty tells her that she could walk through walls. She tells the doctor that at home everyone thought she was a freak, but with the X-Men she felt normal. Kitty tells the doctor about Peter being her first love and how him and his sister fought Stryker and now both of them are dead. Kitty, near to tears, tells the doctor that she wants to kill all the people in the world that would do mutants harm. The doctor asks if that is why she quit the X-Men? Kitty, holding to her sweater, tells the doctor that she killed once to save a friend and every day she tells herself that it was necessary and she had no choice. Tears running from her eyes, she tells the doctor that killing is easy and so is hate, but she wants to find another way.

In the Rockies, along the borders of Idaho and Montana, the X-Treme team searches for clues on the planes crash. Bishop tells Storm that there is too much snow and, since the plane crash caused an avalanche, it’s going to take them forever to find the answers they need. Sage appears to Storm through their hi-tech glasses. Sage tells Storm that she, Wolverine and Cannonball have found a body.

In Sage’s glasses, she watches a news report on Xavier’s mansion and Manoli Wetherell is there, covering the story. She tells the audience that the mansion is virtually under siege and sources say that Charles Xavier and the X-Men may be connected to William Stryker’s plane crash. Manoli switches the feed from Salem Center to Montana and tells the public that there is a strange weather pattern in the area and it is stopping the investigation of the crash. Manoli also states that the officers believe that a mutant may be to blame for the strange weather patterns as well. Sage looking at the dead body of an officer says aloud that in this case Manoli is right. Storm is controlling the weather.

Sam covers the eyes of the dead soldier and tells Wolverine that he will bury the body. Wolverine holds Sam back and tells him that he respects his honoring of the dead but right now they need answers. Logan uses his claw to point out the gash wounds on the officer’s chest, telling them that he recognizes the wound and he knows who inflicted it. Sage realizes at the same time the assailant and tells the others that she will radio Storm with their information. Sage looks up to see a projectile coming towards them. Logan warns Sam to blast Sage away from there, because they’re being attacked. The grenade explodes, sending shrapnel everywhere.

In the occurring run, the avalanche caused by the explosion covers Sam. He carries Sage away, protecting her body with his in hopes to outrun the shrapnel and snow. Sam rises to his feet, saying how the blast was too strong, he couldn’t get airborne in enough time and he lost Sage in the ruckus. Standing to his feet, Sam is shocked to be attacked by as net gun that wraps him up before he can jet away. Six soldiers converge on Sam and one is shocked to see that he is still alive. Another soldier tells the other that he is a Mutie so what did he expect? Behind the soldiers they hear a loud “snikt,” signaling the arrival of Wolverine, to help his friends. Wolverine is covered in shrapnel as he his blasted with some sort of black ooze that envelops him, makes it impossible for Logan to fight back.

Near the soldiers’ location, Sage watches them with her glasses, giving her a readout of their weapon systems and armor capacities. Sage wonders to herself about how they seemed to know that the X-Men would be there. Startling Sage, a soldier knocks her unconscious and drags her to his other comrades. The soldier asks his commander if they are taking prisoners and, with a slashing motion over his throat, the commander signals him to kill them!

At Belles of Hell in Chicago, the bar that Kitty Pryde works at, she is telling her boss to have a good night, as she is left alone to care for the bar. On the television screen, Counselor Whedon, the founding member of the Mutants Right League, tries to defend the X-Men, saying that people are to quick to point the finger when they don’t have the real evidence. Kitty tells the television that the latest craze is blaming muties. Picking up her cell phone Kitty calls one of her professors, but only gets Benes voicemail. Hearing a noise she turns around to tell the customer that they are closed for the night.

Blasted from her feet by a sonic explosion, Kitty is unconscious and phased half into the bar. Lady Deathstrike stands above her and she tells Kitty that she isn’t there for a drink. Yuriko picks Kitty off of the ground with her hair and asks the shadowed man entering the room if she is whom he wanted to find? Stryker steps from the shadows and tells Yuriko that she is the one. She’s perfect.

Characters Involved: 

Bishop, Cannonball, Sage, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Shadowcat (X-Men former/ally)

Lady Deathstrike


William Stryker

Bar patrons and employees


Maureen Lyszinski (Shadowcat’s psychologist)

Policemen and Military personnel

Shadowcat’s thoughts of the past:

Colossus, Nightcrawler, Professor X, Shadowcat, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Illyana Rasputin (X-Men ally)

Television program:

Charles Xavier

Evangeline Whedon

Manoli Wetherell

Military Soldiers

Story Notes: 

This issue if the first of four parts, featuring the return of William Stryker, who has not been seen since the 1982 Marvel Graphic Novel #5, God Loves, Man Kills.

Kitty's remark, that she once killed somebody probably refers to Excalibur #16, where the team found itself powerless and stranded in another barbarian dimension. There Kitty was forced to kill the mad dictator Anjulie to keep her from murdering the rebel leader Kymri.

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