We’ve seen comic books based on track and field, volleyball, football and baseball, but will BOOM! Studios score a point as it kicks off its fencing series with Fence #1?
Writer: C.S. Pacat
Artist: Johanna the Mad
Colorist: Joana Lafuente
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Editors: Shannon Watters and Dafna Pleban
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Fence: Nope. First issue. Nothing to see here… though you might want to bone up on your fencing 101 to fully appreciate what is to come.
Welcome to the exciting world of fencing! Yes. Sports comics exist, and though they may not be that popular in the United States, other countries eat these stories up. I’ve read a few of these kind of series (baseball and volleyball), and though fencing is totally different, I did find a lot of similar story beats.
My biggest problem with the story is it feels so predictable. Poor kids that no one respects? Check. Stuck up athlete that thinks he’s the best there is? Check. Snotty rude secondary characters that give hero nothing by grief? Check. Inner monologue where the character questions everything about his skillset? Check. Flashback to how the character got here today? Check. I really wanted something more in Fence #1, and maybe that will come later, but for now, this feels like every other sports tale I’ve read.
On the plus side, there are characters that the reader can empathize with and cheer for, and that is just as important as getting the character from point A to point B.
IT’S ALL ABOUT STYLE
One thing I do like about the art in Fence #1 is how it breaks from a more traditional black and white manga style. The colors are rich and saturated, and the heavier lines make the characters stand out. I’m not a fan of single washes as the background color of the panels, even though the colorist ads gradients to make it not look as flat.
The characters are from different ethnicities and backgrounds, and this make the world feel diverse, even if most of the book features young men in tight fitting sportswear. You can see the manga influence in the art, and that is okay, because it helps reinforce this story style.
JURY SAYS: POINT!
I’m definitely not the demographic for this book, but I appreciate what the creators are doing. Like other sport comics, Fence #1 gives us an underdog to root for, a villain who will ultimately fail, and a number of obstacles for our hero to overcome. The art feels “fresh” and it borrows heavily from the manga genre. Ultimately I think all of these items add up to the big stumbling block for this issue – I’ve read few manga sports books, but this feels like all of the issues I’ve read before. There’s nothing wrong with formula, but I was really hoping for something different in Fence #1. If you like the genre, then you’ll enjoy Fence #1.