In the bloody war known as the Boxer Rebellion, 100,000 fought and died over the colonization of 1900s China.
Anger and struggle after the Opium Wars
In the late 1890s, after the effects of the Opium Wars and China’s many losses, the Qing dynasty was forced to comply with the demands of Western colonizers and Japanese influences. Years of poverty and repeated colonization grew into a rising resentment. The Chinese people who wanted to drive away all foreigners from the country eventually formed a secret society of martial artists called the “Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists.”
Westerners called them “Boxers” because of the way the members fought. The Boxers themselves believed they housed gods in their bodies and that was what granted them their strength. Stories of Boxers being impervious to bullets and knives soon elevated them to superhuman heights.
These fighters existed far before the Opium wars and had multiple branches and offshoots that were formed during the 1300s and early 1800s, such as the White Lotus Society and their offshoot the Eight Trigrams (Baguajiao) and the branching Yihequan (Boxers). All of these groups tried to battle the Qing dynasty, whom they believed lost the Mandate of Heaven, a sort of universal blessing, which gave the Emperor the right to rule.
Two Bloody Leaders
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The majority of the Chinese people who were recruited to become Boxers were common folk and peasants who experienced famine and floods alongside the colonization. Bitter and angry about their poor state of living, these people were influenced by the Boxers or by those who showed power.
There were two figures during the era who gave hopes of fighting back, a martial arts master and monk named Yang Zhaoshun and a corrupt warlord named Zhang Zongchang.
Though not much is written about the local folk hero, Yang was believed to have such control over his body and the “Gold Bell/Iron Clothes” (Qigong) martial arts that he could harden himself to prevent most damage and his headbutts were lethal. In 1898, he supposedly opened a martial arts school at his monastery to teach the frustrated Chinese villagers how to fight back and kill the Western missionaries who were abusing them.
Zhang, known as “Dogmeat General” and what Time called China’s “basest warlord,” commanded armies that would later join Western forces to suppress the Boxer Rebellion.
The Boxer Rebellion in Immortal’s “Fa Sheng: Origins”
Immortal Studio’s latest comic, “Fa Sheng: Origins,” dives right into the meat grinder of the Boxer Rebellion and, inspired by real-life figures and folk stories of Yang, Zhang and the Qing dynasty’s Empress Dowager, inserts it into an action-packed story about enlightenment and purpose.
A young man sees his people slaughtered in the events of the Boxer Rebellion and finds himself on the journey to discovering true Qigong and martial arts. Enter Wa’er, an impressionable 18-year-old who feels the injustice happening to his people and joins the Boxers in their crusades against German occupation. Backed by the Empress Dowager and her imperial forces, Wa’er aims to restore his village, but he soon finds that not everything is so black-and-white and betrayals and lies are too common.
Before he becomes the calm, death-cheating Shaolin master seen in “The Adept” and gains the name Fa Sheng, he has to fight his way through the chaos of the Boxer Rebellion and earn his enlightenment.
“Fa Sheng: Origins” is created by Peter Shiao, written by Rylend Grant (a screenwriter, author, and Ringo Award-winning comic book creator who is also an ordained Soto Zen Buddhist monk), illustrated by Dexter Wee and colored by Omi Remalante, Jr.
NextShark has apartnership with Immortal Studios.
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