Unforgettable graphic novels of 2013
Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang
The Boxer Rebellion of 1898 was an anti-imperial uprising targeting foreign and Christian incursions in China. Yang portrays two sides of the conflict, both Chinese, in two volumes. Little Bao, a 9-year-old boy, has seen his father and culture trampled by the interlopers. Four-Girl is a daughter so unwanted her family never bothers to give her a real name, and who converts to Christianity under the impression that by doing so, she'll be embracing her own "devil" nature. (She at first assumes that the crucifix displayed by the local acupuncturist who proselytizes to her is an "acupuncture victim.") Both children are visited by spirits, Bao by the gods of his homeland and Four-Girl (renamed Vibiana) by Joan of Arc. A remarkably complex depiction of the conflicting pulls of nationalism, faith and personal destiny and the way war lays waste to them all.