FENCE #7 by C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad
BOOM! Studio's FENCE #7 sees exciting progress as Nicholas moves towards his final chance to make the Kings Row fencing team. C.S. Pacat develops other characters in the series and Johanna the Mad uses kawaii aesthetic to add cuteness to the humorous issue.
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Getting Hotter!

As the boys face off for another round of the Kings Row team tournament, their personalities begin to truly shine. Like previous issues, BOOM! Studio’s latest issue of FENCE goes by in a flash. C.S. Pacat’s young hero Nicholas Cox is working his way towards making the Kings Row fencing team. Or else he may lose his place and scholarship! In FENCE #7, Pacat lets Nicholas’ love for fencing come through, and Johanna the Mad’s artwork supports the positive mood.

Indeed, Johanna the Mad builds up the cute factor in this issue, encouraging the growing rapport between the boys at Kings Row. But Pacat isn’t about to let readers feel secure. The suspenseful writing and tantalizing hints at character development will keep FENCE #7’s readers on their toes.

Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

In FENCE #7, Nicholas faces off with heartthrob Aiden. Previously, Aiden beat the team’s best freshman contender Seiji. Nicholas sees an opportunity to boost his position and beat Seiji by association, if he can only beat Aiden. Meanwhile, Nicholas’ friendship with the genderqueer Bobby grows, as does the sweet friendship between Aiden and team captain Harvard. FENCE #7 is full of excitement as the (occasionally homoerotic) tensions between the young men build.

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Just a Kawaii Guy

Based on Japanese sports anime, it is not surprising that Johanna the Mad’s artwork masterfully mimics anime style. In FENCE #7, she moves towards more kawaii character design. As a result, FENCE #7 feels sweeter than past issues. Previously, Pacat’s young protagonist verged on moroseness after losing a match. However, as the comic picks up pace and Nicholas embraces his love for fencing, his cute, mischievous behavior comes out. Johanna the Mad’s artwork matches Pacat’s energy beat for beat.

Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

The kawaii style does not overpower FENCE #7. Instead, Johanna the Mad’s sense of timing lets cuteness add to the humor when necessary. As a result, FENCE #7 maintains a great balance between carrying the story forward and fleshing out the characters. For example, Nicholas’ almost naive optimism is a refreshing change from past issues. His “stupid hair” (as Seiji has previously call it) seems to have a little extra bounce to it, making his delightfully giddy teasing all the sillier. Additionally, Bobby, who seems to embody kawaii in every issue, once again proves that enjoying the game and working hard are just as important as winning.

Johanna the Mad likes to play with the homoerotics afforded by the genre, often situating the young men very close together. But despite the mounting (and often hilarious) pubescent sexual tensions, FENCE #7’s upbeat attitude and emphasis on the cute makes for a more wholesome comic.

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Most of the attention in FENCE #7 goes to Nicholas. However, Pacat hints at a few other backstories. In particular, FENCE #7 addresses senior boys Harvard, Kally, and Aiden, who had all been on the three-man team last year. The development of their relationships is refreshing. Especially since the comic typically has either played up Aiden’s antagonistic attitude or ignored the senior boys altogether. Pacat even demonstrates that Aiden has some depth, at least in his loyalty to Harvard.

Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

Now the only character whose identity is still mostly mystery is Seiji. FENCE #7 does not so much as thaw the cold facade Seiji maintains almost constantly. However, watching Nicholas buoyantly attempt to get through to Seiji promises a humorous outcome, whenever it may be.

Getting Closer, But Not There Yet

With a rededication to cuteness and humor, FENCE #7 brings readers tantalizingly closer to the end of Nicholas’ journey. But the comic isn’t there yet. Pacat and Johanna the Mad continue to bring high energy to the series. Yet they only hint at emerging relationships, friendships, and the exciting duel between Nicholas and Seiji. Nevertheless, as maddening as it is to wait, FENCE #7 enjoyably gives readers better character development and dynamic shifts.

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