Graphic Novel Review: Boxers

by: Gene Luen Yang 

5 Stars

It is the 1900s, the waning years of the Chinese Qing Dynasty; Bao, a young man, has a life full of challenging work in his little village. He relaxes by watching the local opera, participating in the village's traditions, and honouring his local deity. When a crook who was driven out for stealing comes back with a priest who destroys the statue of the deity, his routine is shattered. When his father goes out to complain to the government but is injured by English soldiers, Bao gains an immense hatred for foreigners and the culture they bring to China. After learning martial arts, Bao sets out with his brothers and forms the Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists, aiming to rid China of foreign influence. As he goes through with his mission, Bao constantly makes questionable decisions, and even he himself wonders if the army he leads is righteous. This is a great book, especially when it comes to things like Paneling and illustration.

This is one of the easiest-to-read comics I have ever read, and it almost felt friendly to my eyes. Aside from that, I really like the themes in this book. The main character has reasons for lashing out like he does, but it doesn't hide the fact that he's done horrible things. One thing I found interesting is the interaction the main character has with a vision of Qin Shi Huang (China's first emperor) in his mind, who represents his perceived duty towards "unifying China." The book makes a point to demonstrate that the Boxers don't even help their own country that much; no matter how much they say they help, they don't. This book has a companion book called Saints, but I think it's fine by itself. 

Reviewed by Gavin 

View in Library Catalogue: Print