SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Weapon X #24, from Greg Pak, Fred van Lente, Luca Pizzari, Frank D'Armata and VC's Joe Caramagna, in stores now.
William Stryker has been one of mutantkind's biggest enemies since the '80s, hellbent on exterminating the race he sees as an abomination. Over the years, he led an army known as the Purifiers on this genocidal mission, but he's never really been able to complete it, thanks mostly to the X-Men.
Still, despite failing and then dying a couple times, Stryker just keeps coming back. In the new Weapon X arc, he returns to haunt the newest incarnation of the mutant resistance squad, but in a whole new way. Reverend Stryker, as he's more commonly known, flips on the script on his old tendencies, boasting a deadly new power-set thanks to a secret deal with a demonic entity.
Now, if you're familiar with Stryker, this sounds like blasphemy. After all, his entire career has been based on blindly following his radicalize Christian beliefs, and killing mutants in the name of God. He's always viewed himself as some sort of celestial vessel, doing God's work and ridding the planet of mutants, whom he considers to be demons. So for him to make this mystical pact, well -- there's a lot going on behind the scenes we're simply not privy to, but which we expect we'll learn more about, soon.
When he lost his wife and child in a fiery car accident, Stryker became the murderous reverend fans love to hate, and no matter what's transpired since, he's never stopped hunting mutants. His Purifiers are usually presented as gun-toting religious zealots bearing cloaks, hoods and crosses, hanging on his every word. In short, they're fanatics and extremists, but again, they think they're on God's side.
So when he returns in Weapon X #24 boasting telekinesis, force fields and the power of regeneration, all conjured up by whispering spells, it's quite a shock. His powers are actually on par with the demonic X-Man known as Magik, leaving us wondering if he got empowered from her dark dimension, or maybe even via Mephisto. It does seem his new abilities have come at a price, as you might expect. He's kidnapped Weapon X members such as Sabretooth, Domino, Monet, Deadpool and Lady Deathstrike, so that he and his partner, the telepath called Mentallo, can offer them up in a gladiator arena battle as some sort of blood sacrifice.
Stryker's even bigger in size than when we last saw him in Weapon X #11. In the past, he was once resurrected using Technarch technology by Bastion, and years later he returned to life as a cyborg to lead the Weapon X program. Simply put, he's always upgrading when he returns from the afterlife, but this seems to be the ultimate upgrade, as he's bigger, badder and so much more powerful.
His last job was setting up shop with a small church in Nebraska, but it seemed like another day at the office for him, because there wasn't any devil present or anyone else to really strengthen him as a warrior. Hopefully he reveals his boss soon enough, because if there's a devil out there who can corrupt Reverend Stryker and convince him to follow a demonic and yes, heretic path, then the Weapon X roster might need a lot more help. Considering they can't even put a supernaturally-powered Stryker down at the moment, they might not want to go head-to-head with whoever turned him into this brand-new killing machine.