FENCE #10 by C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad
Plot
Characterization
Art
Summary
FENCE #10 returns us to the rivalry between Seiji and Nicholas. The exciting issue brings precise art and writing to capture the core conflict between these fencers.
100 %
#10 gets 10/10!

It’s here. The match we’ve all been waiting for: underdog Nicholas Cox vs. fencing prodigy Seiji Katayama. Previous issues have set up this long-awaited battle. Not only does Nicholas’ future at Kings Row Boys School hinge on making the team, but this is his opportunity to prove himself as a worthy contender. However, last issue Seiji noticed something: Nicholas fences like national champion Jesse Coste. Little does Seiji know, Nicholas is Jesse’s illegitimate brother! How can so much drama fit in one high school fencing team tryout? C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad skillfully put it all together in FENCE #10.

As always, Pacat’s writing packs a punch. On top of the rivalry between Seiji and Nicholas, FENCE #10 does one better. Adding to the drama, Pacat introduces the complex relationships between Nicholas and his family, as well as the supportive families of his teammates visiting the school. Here, we can see Nicholas’ drive to prove himself to the team and his absent family.

FENCE #10
Image courtesy of Boom! Studios.

Look At Me: Shifts In Focus

As if in reflection of the comic’s more serious turn, Johanna the Mad’s illustrations take a more focused and direct approach. As both young men narrow in on each other, the slicing frames straighten into focus. Johanna the Mad captures the intensity with each blow of the sword. Despite the chaos of the family visit, Seiji and Nicholas are locked in battle. Johanna the Mad’s artwork makes sure readers are pulled in, too.

But despite all the drama, Johanna the Mad’s art fully embraces the lighthearted aspects of the comic. Indeed, FENCE #10 maintains the over-the-top optimism with characters like Bobby’s devoted abuelita and Tanner’s aggressively exuberant family. As always, Johanna the Mad creates an amazingly diverse cast of characters to match Pacat’s more humorous scenarios.

FENCE #10
Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

Chosen Family?

Throughout the series, FENCE emphasizes the importance of family, be it biological or chosen. While Seiji’s desire to win isolates him, Nicholas is able to build a family of friends at Kings Row. As a result, Nicholas’ position on the team has more dire consequences. Without the team, Nicholas will lose his newfound group of friends and sense of belonging. FENCE #10 adds pressure to the situation by repeatedly proving how wonderful his friends are.

BOOM! Studios frequently brings LGBTQ+ stories into comics. While nothing in the high school sports drama is confirmed (except for Aiden’s position as resident gay heartthrob and Bobby’s gender fluidity), FENCE nevertheless emphasizes the importance of chosen families to people displaced by their own. Indeed, chosen family is a significant part of LGBTQ+ culture. Many LGBTQ+ people have “chosen family” who fill roles left by unsupportive biological family. Although Seiji and Nicholas’ sexualities are not yet established, the series emphasizes queerness and actively crafts a safe space for LGBTQ+ characters. Additionally, as with many LGBTQ+ people, Nicholas and Seiji are not actively supported by their families. Consequently, FENCE #10 drives home the importance of Kings Row Academy’s fencing team as Nicholas’ safe space. Hopefully future issues will address whether or not Seiji can ever fit in!

FENCE #10
Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

FENCE #10: Breakthroughs On And Off The Piste

FENCE #10 certainly breaks the tension that readers felt in previous issues. At times, the series had a slow pace as it built everything up. However, Issue 10 is worth the wait. FENCE #10 showcases Pacat’s skill with drama and humor. As a result of Johanna the Mad’s careful layouts and dashing character designs, FENCE #10 is masterfully sharp and direct. FENCE #10 reevaluates the comic’s central conflict and moves readers into a new world of possibilities. As always, FENCE leaves us with more questions than answers. But FENCE #10 provides many exciting and satisfying breakthroughs.

Find FENCE #10 here!

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