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Comic Book / 20 Fists

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20 Fists is an independently-published 2019 action/romance comic book, presented in black-and white. It is written by Frankee White and illustrated by Kat Baumann, with letters by DC Hopkins.

In a nameless American city, various crews compete in a loose underground fighting organization known as the 20 Fists Fight League. There are three rules: Five members to a team. No cops. And no killing. Teams can duke it out anywhere that's not neutral ground.

The Big Jackets are the top dogs in this league, and are bitter rivals with newcomer gang The No Names. However, their respective leaders, Billie and Chel, fall in love during one of their numerous epic brawls, with all the obvious complications that arise from such a situation. On the eve of yet another battle, the two lovers must make a decision about their future.

Described as "a queer Romeo & Juliet meets The Warriors," the three-issue story is structured into five chapters: three "Rounds" of the present story involving the big fight, and two "Interludes" detailing more about the gangs and the relationship between Chel and Billie.

20 Fists contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Chel and Rei of the No Names.
  • Battle Couple: Brian and Rei of the No Names.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. The fights are bruising and bloody, and almost all of the female gang members take their share of lumps just like their male counterparts.
  • Boisterous Weakling: Keelan of the Big Jackets. Talks big, gets his ass kicked a lot.
  • Creator Cameo: Artist Kat Baumann drew herself as a bar patron in Round 1.
  • Dark Action Girl: Bille, Yuli, and KT of the Big Jackets.
  • Dating Catwoman: Rival gang leaders Billie and Chel are in a romantic relationship.
  • David vs. Goliath: The No Names are the rookies of the two gangs, and their members are smaller on average than those in the Big Jackets.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Played with. The gender compositions of the gangs make this impossible to begin with, but the women on each side are just as likely to scrap with a man as with another woman. In the main brawl, Rei and KT square off first, as do Chel and Yuli.
  • Destructive Romance: Billie and Chel's relationship, unsurprisingly. Two days before the big fight, Billie revealed to Chel that she expected her to join the Big Jackets and abandon her own gang, who Chel considers her family, and generally acted possessive of her.
  • Fight Clubbing: The 20 Fists Fight League seemingly exists solely to give crews of friends an excuse beat the crap out of each other.
  • Fighting in the Playground: The main brawl takes place at a playground at 3:30 AM.
  • Gang of Hats: The Big Jackets wear big jackets.
  • Handwraps of Awesome: Billie wears some even when not fighting.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: The 20 Fists Fight League has three rules for fights: no killing, five members per crew at the start, and no cops. It's also understood that weapons aren't allowed.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each issue is referred to as a "Round," and each Round is separated by an Interlude. This gives the comic the structure of a boxing match.
  • In Love with Your Carnage: Billie became attracted to Chel by watching her beat up another of the Big Jackets, Keelan. She was especially drawn to the fact that Chel was smiling.
  • Love Across Battlelines: The main premise of the story is Billie and Chel navigating a romance while leading rival fistfighting gangs.
  • Man Bites Man:
    • Keelan bites Chel's forearm in the bar brawl.
    • In the main fight, Chel bites Yuli's hand before knocking her out.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Billie pulls a knife on Chel when they face off one-on-one, managing to graze her a few times, but Chel ultimately knocks her out once Billie deems the fight finished.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Though not named, the city is heavily based on Chicago, where the writer is from.
  • Non-Action Guy: Downplayed with Brian. He can fight and is willing to, but he's an artist first and foremost. He joined the No Names to spend more time with Rei.
  • Nonindicative Name: The members of the No Names do in fact have names.
  • "Number of Objects" Title: Named after the fight league.
  • Number Two: Wayne to Chel, though the No Names don't have any real hierarchy.
  • Reluctant Warrior: Mack of the Big Jackets is arguably the gang's best asset in a fight, but they don't actually like fighting that much and prefer just hanging out with the rest of the gang.
  • Technical Pacifist: The two gangs despise each other, but killing is absolutely forbidden. They'll happily beat each other into paste, though.
  • Two Girls to a Team: The No Names have Chel and Rei as their only women.
  • Would Hit a Girl: The male members in both gangs have no issue hitting their female rivals, because they'll hit them right back.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Cory of the No Names hurt his knee in a prior tussle with the Big Jackets, and currently takes pain medication. In the main brawl, he's the first one taken out, without even getting to do anything.
  • Wretched Hive: Downplayed. Whatever city the story takes place in is pretty run-down and crappy, but not completely crime-infested.