The Boxer Vol. 1 Review – A Test of Willpower

    Title: The Boxer Vol. 1
    Author: JH
    Release Date: December 20, 2022
    Publisher: Ize Press

Jumping into a new series creates a sense of “What if this isn’t good?” When reading the synopsis of The Boxer by author JH, I couldn’t help but be put off by the sports aspect of it. However, even the back of the back only sets up one part of this story that turns into so much more across each chapter. Ultimately, this is a story of three very complicated individuals who are brought together by the sport of boxing in one way or another. Their relationship isn’t even close to what you’d call friendship, which adds another layer to the emotional spin this narrative delivers.

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The Boxer Vol. 1 opens with the promise of a boxing prodigy. The story introduces Baeksan Ryu as the main character. However, although this character proves he’s “main protagonist” material, I couldn’t connect with him and felt like this was due to bad character writing. That’s where JH puts a spin on this whole story. After the introduction, we learn of a melancholic and uninterested boy named Yu and a bullied teenager named Injae. It’s these characters that bring this narrative to a head.

In retrospect, I want to say that most of the story is being told through coach K, the one looking for the next boxing prodigy. Instead, we take a peek into the lives of three characters and discover just what brings them to the sport.

The tone is rather dark and sometimes challenging to digest, given how heavy some of the student interactions are, but when you think there’s a clear antagonist, your emotions as a reader kick in as you attempt to empathize with the cast. That’s just the mind of a non-boxer, though. These characters learn to put aside those human emotions as they take action on what they believe is the right choice.

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The most complex character would have to be Yu, but only because so much about him is held back. On the other hand, Ryu and Injae have an apparent rivalry based on several events. Injae’s upbringing causes him to stand up for himself, while Ryu does what he thinks he’s meant to do. Yu is the outlier, and that makes him terrifying.

The illustrations are all in color and do a great job of highlighting the emotional impact these characters face. In addition, the idea of loneliness is displayed exceptionally well, as the JH didn’t hold back on page length and gave the chapters all the room they needed to convey these scenes.

This narrative left a lingering sense of dread with me as I sat back after reading. It’s tough not to reflect on your life and situations where you felt like either of these characters. Yu is the character to take us out of that, though. His question, “Is it fun?” regarding boxing, is a great starting point for understanding him.

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The Boxer Vol. 1 is a great read that I’m sure you won’t be able to put down once you start it. JH delivers several key twists that keep you guessing where the story is going, and even when you think you have an idea of who to hate, it’s tough not to feel bad for all the characters involved. Whether or not Yu is going to be the hero of this story is yet to be seen, but each character brings a host of excellent pacing and writing to the entire volume.

4.5/5

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Azario Lopez

Hanging out max, relaxing all cool.