Review of Boxer Hockey
What is Boxer Hockey?
Boxer Hockey is an online comic featured on a Tumblr page that is written by Tyson Hesse. The comic is about the adventures in the daily lives of the members of the Alabama Mechanical Penguins or Mekpens for short. The Mekpens play Boxer Hockey in the professional league, a league for boxer hockey teams from all around the world. The comic began in 2006 and is still being written today although their has not been an update to the page since September 2014.
What takes place in the sport?
Boxer Hockey is an interesting sport, although, if needs to be clarified; doesn't take exist in the real world. The fictional sport requires a team of four, one goalie and three infielders. On the Alabama Mechanical Penguins, Chuck is the goalie and Rittz, Billy and Skip lead by their coach Tim Selleck. The game must be played in only underwear and the objective is to find an oddly large frog hidden in the infield of the stadium and get it into the goal one way another. The objective of getting an object into the goal past a goalie is similar to the sport of hockey. Members of teams are equipped with baseball bats (Billy uses a plank of wood instead of a bat) and the goalie uses a pair of boxing gloves. Although the sport seems far from a union between boxing and hockey; the combination of the scoring system similar to hockey and the goalie using boxing gloves is most likely where the name comes from.
Throughout the comic the team moves around the world to compete in different stadiums and in between the matches several story arks occur. The comic begins with a few panels that have little meaning to the story but hold some decent jokes. The main story picks up as the crew heads to Japan to compete in a round of a tournament. One of the story arches I just found to be disturbing occurs as Rittz is asleep in a hospital he dreams that Chuck has become pregnant and believes that it is his child. A plane crash occurs and the group loses Chuck on the way to their next game in Sydney. The team competes without the goalie and loses the game. Skip is then accused for rigging the game, turning Billy against him. Chuck has his own story arch where he meets his soon to be girlfriend Ryan who enters into the story that connects with the main story at this point. While Skip and Chuck are out on a double-date, what seems to be a ninja breaks into the house and confronts Rittz. A series of flashbacks take place from here on out revealing information on Rittz's childhood. Billy saves Rittz from the ninja who turns out to be a member of the Japanese team they had beat in the first round. The player reveals they were promised a win by Skip however they lost the game and were seeking to take revenge, this event confirms Billy's suspicion of Skip rigging the games for cash. Finally we are introduced to another series of flashbacks that introduce the character Ace a former member of the team, a seemingly perfect player of boxer hockey as a kid with perfect qualities that was friends with Skip and Rittz in childhood. These events take place through an aggressive practice match between Billy and Skip.
The comic uses stereotyping many times to produce comedic effects. In Japan Rittz is administered into the hospital for making fun of the slanted eyes Asians often have and saying as many 'Japanese' words that he knows. In Australia, the Australian team utilizes a kangaroo as their goalie and the comic pokes at the term 'Aussie'.
Most of the characters are typical, the lovable, dumb one; the edgy, dark one; the beautiful girl; the normal one that everyone picks on for some reason and the uncaring coach. Billy is the most unique character in that not only is he brawny but, he seems to be very clever as well and is the "good guy" as he is working to prevent cheating in the league even though most are drawn to like Skip over Billy as more time is spent with Skip. The back stories of the characters are interesting and unique as well, the flashbacks are one of my favorite parts of the comic. The backstory shows connection between the friends and why the characters act the way they do. The flashbacks show a weaker side to Skip and puts you into a position where you have to decide if Skip truly is or isn't a good guy and the back story makes this decision all the more difficult.
Anti-Gay Joke Bear's Weakness: A Can of Nickels
Gags and Reoccurring Jokes
The coach is often shown smoking a cigar in inappropriate situations and for whatever reason smoking this cigar causes bad things to happen. For example smoking a cigar on the plane causes it to explode and smoking again on the raft causes the same result for the raft. John Madden is featured as a commentator at all boxer hockey games and is often depicted over eccentric and is often shown to be more than willing to get into the boxer hockey mood and lose all clothes but his underwear for his intense commentating. A back fist thrown to the face without looking is used several times to shut up someone who is depicted as being irritating, often used by Skip to knock out Rittz for making faces. A "Fancy-Southern Cat" is one of the pets of Rittz, Skip and Chuck and is used several times to poke fun at how it is expected readers would react to a certain panel in the story. Finally the "Anti-Gay Joke Bear" is a bear that is against gay jokes that harasses the team for using them; although very odd sounding the bit is one of the most popular from the comic.
I enjoyed the comic enough to read through it in a few days and the comedy really begins to pick up towards the middle of the comic. The events of the actual games or boxer hockey were all right, I preferred the game against Sydney over Japan. And the final match between Billy and Skip was very entertaining as well and it carries a weight knowing the struggle between the two. The comic also has the tendency to throw in several panels with no relevancy that are used purely for comedic purpose. I didn't mind these much as more often than not they were worth a chuckle. Often just the random banter between the characters is enough to get me to laugh. The comic is very well done in terms of art style and each panel pays attention to detail. I'm genuinely sad that the comic hasn't been updated in so long as it has only seemed to have improved from beginning to the end. The comic does an excellent job of keeping comedy an element while mixing with serious issues that can be seen in the flashbacks. I really felt bad for Rittz as I was finding out about his past; and the depth added to Skips's character was immense. Once the final panels are released I will make sure to revisit this hub to finish the review.