Writer: C.S. Pacat
Artist: Johanna the Mad
Colorist: Joana Lafuente
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Boom! Box
A Review by Greg Brothers
In the last couple of years Boom! Box has put out some great diverse character-driven books. Each of these books has been unique in their setting. However, one thing that they have all had in common is that they focus on including characters and relationships that have long been missing within the pages of comic books. Enter Fence #1 from C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad.
Fence #1 introduces Nicholas Cox, a young aspiring lencer who has a natural talent but lacks the proper training. Drawing a match against the top fencer in his first tournament has put Nicholas in a tough spot. And, the other participants do not see a reason to get to know a competitor whom they do not feel will be around long.
Fence #1 does an excellent job of starting to establish an interesting group of characters. Nicholas is presented as someone who is young and confident but somewhat unpolished in his skills. Elements are introduced that hint at a secret about his life that even Nicholas may not be aware of. Any relevant story will need to have a rival involved, so Seiji is introduced as the top fencer and someone who has no rival. He is written in a way that exudes confidence. Flashbacks however remind the reader that people develop their personality based on how they are raised.
Nicholas and Seiji get the most panel time in Fence #1. However, we are introduced briefly to several other fencers. While there is not much depth to these characters yet, the establishment of them in the first issue leads one to believe that they will play an important part in the story later.
I am not the best at reviewing art in comics. It usually must be bad for me to not like it. That being said, Johanna the Mad’s art is beautiful and engaging, with a Manga style and clean bright colors. Emotions jump off the page, and Johanna is even able to convey emotion through the helmets that are worn during fencing.
Buy it! Fence #1 does an excellent job of building interest in the two main characters. The focus on two of the major players allows for a depth that is often missing in first issues. And, the inclusion of other characters starts to quell any fear that the story could become stagnant in the future. The art begs for you to breathe it in and take in every inch of the panel, as the details reveal the lengths that the team has gone to be accurate. The foundation that Fence #1 builds hints at a story that will be character driven and provide plenty of entertainment.