Volume One

Book - 2018
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Simon and Schuster
Nicholas Cox is determined to prove himself in the world of competitive fencing, and earn his place alongside fencing legends like the dad he never knew, but things get more complicated when he’s up against his golden-boy half-brother, as well as sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama.

Nicholas, the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, is a scrappy fencing wunderkind, and dreams of getting the chance and the training to actually compete. After getting accepted to the prodigious Kings Row private school, Nicholas is thrust into a cut-throat world, and finds himself facing not only his golden-boy half-brother, but the unbeatable, mysterious Seiji Katayama...

Through clashes, rivalries, and romance between teammates, Nicholas and the boys of Kings Row will discover there’s much more to fencing than just foils and lunges. From acclaimed writer C.S. Pacat (The Captive Prince) and fan-favorite artist Johanna the Mad. 

Publisher: Berkeley, California :, BOOM! Box,, 2018
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781684151929
Branch Call Number: YA GX PAC
Characteristics: 1 volume (unpaged) :,chiefly colour illustrations ;,26 cm


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JessicaGma May 07, 2019

It's a slow burn of a story, setting up for a showdown later. I learned a lot about fencing, as per the title. The art is top-notch!

Apr 13, 2019

I was expecting a bit more from this author. A lot of the story felt a little dry, but I'm hoping that the second and third books pick up a little bit more, especially in the romance department.

Feb 01, 2019

I know this is aimed at teens, but coming from Pacat (whose previous books have all been wall-to-wall explicit content) I was expecting at least *some* romance and/or sex. And it’s just not there. It’s a straight-up story about competitive fencing (though to be fair there’s nothing to rule out romance down the line). It’s not that it isn’t well done, but it wasn’t what I wanted and was expecting.

forbesrachel Aug 14, 2018

Nicholas Cox finds his calling early on in life. Partially driven by a need to follow in the steps of the father who abandoned him, he takes up fencing, working hard just to get some lessons. The young man quickly becomes good enough to enter a regional tournament. There, he faces off against the prodigy Seiji Katayama. Although he is soundly defeated, this just adds one more reason for him to push forward. Determined to once again face his rival, Nicholas enters the Kings Row private school, only to discover that not only is the "arrogant" fencer there, but they are roommates. Both the competition and drama just heats up as team trials begins.

Fence is a western comic that draws heavily from manga, and in particular, the sports genre; it is a type of story which is rarely portrayed in comics outside of Japan. Pacat and Johanna the Mad don't just reuse the same tropes and style though, they add their own touches to the form, which makes this series very unique. The types of characters and basic storyline will be familiar to those who have read sports manga before, however there is already more variety and depth than usual (as an example, the cast represents many different ethnic backgrounds, and includes LGBTQ persons). Volume one also makes it clear that it will have a more balanced approach in its inclusion of side character stories, and that there will likely be more of a romantic element (at the very least, there is a lot of shipping potential). Even with all these introductions, the read still feels grounded, because the author consistently reminds us of who our main point of view characters are. It also helps that they are quite interesting. Nicholas has talent and determination, but he lacks the training and discipline to win. As for his rival Seiji, even though we don't know much about him at this point, there is enough to infer some things. Seiji is just as driven, and likely has as personal a reason for his actions as Nicholas does. While the sports action, rivalries, and friendships will keep us engaged, these underlying threads will be what ultimately drives the story. As for the art, it is a cross between the manga and western cartoon styles; even the panel work utilizes traits from both as needed. It is a very flexible approach, as it can flip from dynamic to serious to funny, or whatever other mood it has to as needed. LaFuente's colour work also really helps in this regard.

Fence already promises to be everything you could want in a manga-influenced sports comic and more. It already has a well-thought out cast, a great balance of story elements, outstanding art to meet all its needs, and a clear direction.

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