William Stryker is notable for the fact he was Number 1# on the FBI's Most Wanted list for decade, a list which is usually reserved for a variety of supercriminals and serial-killers, and he was only occasionally thrown off by the Joker's lengthier escapes from Arkham.
What's more interesting about William Stryker is the crimes he's committed are predominately against mutants and political pressure has long ignored those. Somehow, though, the Reverend has successfully become so repulsive that even the bigoted masses now despise him with a gross fury.
Killing children will do that.
William Stryker's background consists of a nebulous military service involving a great number of foreign postings. Research by Professor Xavier's contacts in the "not completely psychotic or stupid" portion of the government has indicated he may have been a guard in the Weapon Plus program.
It's a question whether William Stryker learned his appalling hatred of mutants during his time in the concentration-camp-like conditions of this program or whether he was recruited precisely because of his hatred. Professor X, of course, would say there's no need to separate the two as they're quite able to feed each other.
Stryker's bias was like so many other real-life bigots in that it didn't come from any source but he sought out sources to justify it. In this case, Stryker chose religion as a means of providing himself a comfort. Given the Holy Bible is noticeably lacking on passages dealing with eye-beams and wings, the Reverend had to develop his own theology about the subject.
Many individuals are curious about Reverend Stryker's ministry and how he justifies Christian-based anti-mutant rhetoric. I'm sorry to say someone looking for something well-written or interesting must look elsewhere. Reverend Stryker's writings are crude, to-the-point, and theologically unsound. What they are, however, are loud and self-satisfied. Two qualities that individuals seeking to have their biases confirmed are happy to enjoy.
Sample quotes from Reverend Stryker's ministry include:
"Only God should have superpowers."
"Jesus wasn't a mutant."
"Mutants coming back from the dead mocks Jesus."
"God sent a flood to kill the first mutants."
And so on. He's very good at buzz words and catchphrases which, bluntly, make no ****ing sense.
Much, again, like real bigots.
The crowning moment of Reverend Stryker’s developing psychosis was when his wife gave birth to an obvious mutant baby, something he killed both her and the child for. Reverend Stryker could not deal with the guilt of his action but he couldn’t repent of it either so he decided his wife was infected by Satan. Reverend Stryker decided that God had sent him on a mission to kill all mutants in the world—an action he’d already been contemplating but had yet to find the impetuous for.
Reverend Stryker’s Crusade, initially, was a complete failure. He tried to start in Smallville and a man named Jonathan Kent ended up driving him out. Later attempts to do work in Keystone City and other parts of the heartland failed. Sadly, Magneto’s then-very public attempts to intimidate the government gave Reverend Stryker the kind of “evil mutant” to build his rhetoric around.
Worse, Reverend Stryker received support from a number of extremely lucrative backers. These included Glorious Godfrey
, a then-popular anti-metahuman talk-show host. Reverend Stryker was enchanted by Godfrey's suggestions and rapidly became an almost supernaturally-charismatic speaker. Eventually, Godfrey took Reverend Stryker to Apokolips where he met with Darkseid. Faced with the living embodiment of Tyranny in a supernatural form, Reverend Stryker fell to his knees and decided he'd had an encounter with God himself.
Reverend Stryker agreed to become a promoter of Darkseid's agenda and secretly started arming his newly-named Purifiers with Apokoliptian technology. Reverend Stryker envisioned an apocalyptic (no pun intended) battle between humans and mutants before God returned to purify the world with a word, an equation if you will, that would end sin. In short, Reverend Stryker was shown the events of Final Crisis and was left with the mission to eliminate the sort of people who might thwart it.
Mutants, of course, being high on that list.
Reverend Stryker ended up proving a colossal waste of time for Darkseid, getting himself arrested for shooting Kitty Pryde during his first major rally (and one could not pick a more photogenic, innocent-looking mutant to challenge public opinion).
Later, he would end up being rescued by Lady Deathstrike on Glorious Godfrey's payroll. Reverend Stryker proved his hypocrisy by sleeping with the cyborg Japanese assassin despite her inhumanity. Reverend Stryker attempted to give up his crusade for a time, briefly having a moment of realization who he was truly serving, only to fall back under sway due to his own pride.
Better to serve the Devil by claiming to serve God than admit you were wrong.
Stryker even managed to fool himself some days.
Ultimately, Reverend Stryker lost all credibility with the public at large after the events of the Decimation. Reverend Stryker's Purifiers targeted hundreds of depowered mutants and murdered them all in a public and brutal manner. His most heinous act was, inarguably, the murder of 41 depowered children leaving the X-mansion. The outrage by every superhero group in the world was amazing with Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman using their abilities to smash the Purifier network as best they could.
However, it was the X-men's retaliation that made the entire thing worse. Scott Summers, wracked with guilt over his failure to protect his most vulnerable students in their hour of need, repealed the X-men's prohibition against killing. Much like the Green Lantern Corps, they decided they were no longer policing humanity's worst but engaging in warfare. Reverend Stryker's domestic terrorist organization was slaughtered to the man by X-Force, preventing it from ever coming close to its mission of fighting Darkseid's war.
The action did, however, alienate the X-men from the Justice League for a time. However justified, the League tends to frown on death squads.
Against all sense, Darkseid would raise William Stryker from the dead during the events of Final Crisis and Stryker would possess a pair of transplanted wings cloned from Archangel. He achieved little, however, and was witness to the destruction of his dream. Wolverine tracked him down during this battle and finished him off, at last ending the evil of the mutant-hating Man of God.
Or has it?
Despite the fact he's not shown any sign of being married or in any other relationships after his wife's death, a man has taken his name and is carrying on the Purifier's work through DVDs, the internet, and other concealed recruitment methods. They also show no sign of running out of funding, weapons, or equipment--albeit, possessing slight recruitment problems due to universal superhero distaste for the organization.
Also, the slight issue of betraying humanity during an alien invasion.
Who is William Stryker, Junior
and what is his agenda? Is he an imposter, the Reverend resurrected, or something more sinister?