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10. Boxers & Saints
Written & drawn by Gene Luen Yang
Published by First Second Books
Gene Luen Yang's two-volume graphic novel, tackling the Boxer Rebellion in China, is a great way to make use of the publishing medium's physical structure. One book ('Boxers') tells the story entirely from the perspective of a Chinese man on the side of the Boxers, the other ('Saints') about an outcast Chinese women who is drawn into the world of the Christian missionaries and fights on their side. Each story is fascinating and gripping, but when you read both books side by side and see how the two perspectives merge... well, there's a reason why "Boxers & Saints" is meant to be consumed as a whole, single unit. Brilliant AND enjoyable.
-- CBR Reviewer Greg McElhatton
Gene Luen Yang's two-volume set is about more than just the Boxer Rebellion. It's about all war, all the things that cause people to make it, and how there's never just one point-of-view in any conflict. That's something that humans desperately need to learn about themselves and Yang's work does a wonderful job of teaching it.
-- Robot 6 Writer Michael May
Gene Yang delivered something ambitious, intellectual and lovely with none of the dryness some historical graphic novels can suffer from. 'Boxers and Saints' is elegant and simple, with accurate details about a grizzly piece of history, and yet it has a thriving sense of humor.
-- CBR Staff Writer Casey Gilly
While Yang produced two books, they're inextricably linked and I wouldn't like to choose between them. Using each book to depict the different perspectives of each side of the battling people in the Chinese Boxer Rebellion, Yang uses his deceptively simple line work to convey complex ideas about freedom, religion, love, family, and loss. Within each book are the seeds for the other, just as the characters' lives intertwine. With the culmination of each book the heartbreaking, transformative cost of war is mourned.
-- Comics Should Be Good Columnist Sonia Harris
History is written by the winners. It’s rare when someone has the objective interest and skill to bring both perspectives of a conflict to bear. 'Boxers & Saints' is a slipcase of the simultaneous release of two graphic novels from 'American Born Chinese' creator Gene Luen Yang that strive to accomplish this ambitious goal. Boxers follows a Chinese peasant boy who joins the uprising after his village is plundered by Western missionaries, while Saints follows a girl who finds a life for herself in the missionaries when her village has no place for her. The former is crafted as a war epic with the aesthetic of a superhero comic; the latter is more intimate with the feel of a personal journal or autobiographical comic. Which side is right? As always, it’s not about right or wrong, but the human journeys within the historic event.
-- Robot 6 Writer Corey Blake