Over on this post, I listed the ten comic book issues I'd want to save after reading a story on Whedonesque. As a sort of Part II, if you will, I wanted to pick one graphic novel that I'm in love with and would want to save:
My choice would be the X-Men Graphic Novel, God Loves, Man Kills ... it is amazing.
image borrowed from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-Men:_God_Loves,_Man_Kills
The X-Men are targeted by a fundamentalist, television evangelist and his group of "Purifiers". The Minister's back story is that his very pregnant wife was killed in an auto accident. The trauma causes the baby to be born as she's dying, and it turns out to be something more or less than human. He takes this as a sign of God that he is displeased.
Years later, the Minister sends out his "Purifiers" to murder two children, who they chase down in a schoolyard at night. The little children are black, playing up the Uncanny X-Men's underlying themes of racism and hating those who are different than you - something that resonated, unsurprisingly, with me as a teen.
Anyway, the children are shot, just as one of them - the brother - has his mutant powers activate to protect his sister. Their bodies are left in the schoolyard with a "Muties" sign as a lesson for the rest of the children the next morning. But, Magneto, who has been tracking events finds them first and removes them. Magneto has a special interest in anyone who would threaten mutantkind with harm, since as a Jew, he had already lost his parents and been imprisoned in the Holocaust.
As Magneto his hunting down these 'Purifiers', Cyclops, Storm and Professor Xavier are seemingly murdered in an attack on the limousine. Actually, though, they've been kidnapped. Professor X is brainwashed by the Minister to target mutantkind with his vast telepathic powers and kill them all. Cyclops and Storm are apparently killed by him, their brains destroyed.
In the meantime, Kitty Pryde is targeted as well and, exhausted from all of her phasing (and taking some lungfuls of smoke and knock out gas) is saved by Magneto. They hook up with the rest of the X-Men.
Cyclops and Storm's dumped bodies are retrieved by Magneto and everyone finds out that they weren't killed, after all. Professor X, even in his deep mind control, was able to resist enough to only place them in a simulated death - they're revived.
The X-Men assault one of the Minister's televised specials to save the Professor, but Xavier begins to use his powers against them. An adopted daughter of the Minister (and his number one Purifier) turns out to be a mutant as well, though her powers haven't manifested. As she begins to bleed from her nose and ears, she begs her 'father' to help her - only he rejects her as a spawn of Satan and shoves her off of the stage - she lands, breaking her neck.
The audience is shocked at the brutality shown by this man of God, and Kitty takes the opportunity to confront the Minister's unreasoned hatred. He points to Nightcrawler as a sign that mutants are evil, but Kitty tells him that Kurt is one of the best and most gentle men she has ever met and she'd stand by him long before she would stand with a God who'd condemn him for existing.
With the hatred the Minister ginned up in his audience dissipated, the reverend get desperate and turns a gun on Kitty Pryde, but is shot by an officer of the law.
This comic is powerfully written, confronting prejudice (as all X-Men stories of any worth do), blind hatred, misusing God's word, violence and the feelings of family that the Uncanny X-Men have always had in their intimate stories.
You can read more about it with these reviews: X-Centric and Helium