BOOM! Studios’ ‘Fence’ an engaging manga-inspired tale of rivalry and ambition
Do you have little ones in your life who are drawn to the world of comics through movies, cartoons, and video games, but you’re not sure what to start them with, or even know what’s appropriate?
We got you! Books for Babes aims to provide info on what books kids will enjoy, but are also entertaining for adults. This week we recommend ‘Fence’, an all-new series from BOOM Box and BOOM! Studios.
By Stefania Rudd. At the end of my junior year of high school, I attended an interest meeting one day to talk about the possibility of starting a fencing team. For some reason I thought, “Hey, this could be a fun idea…” After learning what exactly starting up this new sport would entail, I figured it would just be easier to just stick to soccer. And I’ll admit, there are moments when I think about what would have happened if had I traded in my cleats for a foil.
Well, no more just watching the summer Olympics to keep that thought alive. BOOM! Studios has a new series all about high schoolers who fence, aptly titled, Fence.
Nicholas Cox is a scrappy kid with heart and a lot of drive to be the best high school fencer there is; his ambition aimed directly at a scholarship to a solid private school where he can flourish under a strong fencing program. He has worked hard since he was a child to learn all he can from Joe, a grizzly-bear looking coach who teaches épée on Fridays at the local community ballroom. (We don’t learn much about Joe at this point, but I’m sure as the issues continue we will get more of his backstory.)
Another thing that drives Nicholas is the thought that the 1984 Olympic gold medal winner in épée, Robert Coste, is his father. If there is truth behind this, we have yet to find out; it may just be a wishful thinking from a kid with a fencing dream and a single mom.
Writer C.S. Pacat introduces us to this world of competitive fencing with a regional tournament, where Nicholas hopes to impress big. However, in his first round he is set against Seiji Katayama, an exceptionally talented and experienced fencer who has a reputation that precedes him, and a matching ego to boot. Pacat does a great job at getting to the motivation of the characters through flashback scenes and present day interactions. Although Nicholas doesn’t defeat Seiji in the first, the foundation is set for a rivalry that will fuel Nicholas to keep going. Of course, Pacat delivers a twist ending that only solidifies the adventure we will all be going on with Nicholas as he navigates his new private school and new fencing team.
The artwork, provided by Johanna the Mad (how great of a title to go by, right?) and colorist Joana Lafuente is very much manga inspired. Dreamy sepia-toned flashbacks, juxtaposed against brightly colored and sharply detailed in-the-moment scenes, lets this book engage the reader very easily. I appreciate the level of thought and details that went into the characters, even the minor ones. For example, the diversity of ethnicities was good to see, and I felt that there are plenty of distinguishing components for the characters so that they wouldn’t all blend together as “Teen Boy Number One”, “Teen Boy Number Two”, and so on.
While the premise of Fence isn’t particularly novel, setting it in a sport that is just outside the mainstream contributes to its newness in a way that will definitely make this a really fun series. Ultimately, it’s two rival boys forced to interact with each other, their future boiled down to either a continuing rivalry or burgeoning friendship. Only time — and plenty of fencing matches — will determine their fates.
BOOM! Box/BOOM! Studios/$3.99
Written by C.S. Pacat
Illustrated by Johanna the Mad.
Colors by Joana Lafuente.
Lettering by Jim Campbell.
This book contains aggressive sportsmanship, a budding rivalry, and fencing technical terms.
Age range: 12-15; 16+
That’s it for this week! Has Books For Babes helped you out at all? We want to know! Feel free to send feedback our way in the comments section below.