What happens after you’ve achieved your lifelong goals? For people who have dedicated their life to a singular purpose, realizing their dreams can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you did it! You achieved the seemingly impossible. On the other hand…what the hell do you do with the rest of your life? That question is at the center of the new Dark Horse comic No One Left to Fight by writer Aubrey Sitterson and artist Fico Ossio. Drawing inspiration from Dragon Ball, No One Left to Fight looks at martial artist Vâle figuring out how to live in a world where his biggest battles are already won.
“This is the power of genre material, you can look at these human issues in much more heightened forms,” Sitterson tells EW. “It’s the same struggle as, say you were a doctor. Since high school, you wanted to be a doctor and you took all these advanced math and science classes, you worked really hard and get into the best medical school, you went through specialization and became a great surgeon, and then what? Then you look around and you see other people who made other choices, and you’re not necessarily more happy than they are. They’ve got different things. It’s what happened here, but more heightened. These are characters who have been trained in martial arts since they were children, and that’s been their only focus. Once the battle is won it’s about figuring out, what now? How do you give your life meaning after you’ve accomplished the thing that’s defined your life?”
The first issue of No One Left to Fight, in comic stores this week, opens with Vâle returning from some kind of walkabout abroad and reuniting with his old friends Timor and Krysta, as well as their excitable young children. But Vâle and Timor are “friends” in the way Goku and Vegeta on Dragon Ball are friends — as in, more like rivals. Having been raised together, Vale and Timor have always striven to surpass each other in martial arts.
“The relationship between Goku and Vegeta has always been the most interesting part of Dragon Ball,” Sitterson tells EW. “Vegeta is always the bridesmaid, the perpetual second-best, and when you’re an angsty young teenage boy, no one speaks to you better than that. You feel like a prince with destiny but one guy getting in your way, and he’s this goofy cornball dude. We wanted that to sit at the core of our story. Fico and I worked really hard on this for months. We didn’t just want to do Dragon Ball pastiche. The idea was to take the core of that dynamic, and then rebuild the continuity around it to heighten it. That’s why Vale and Timor aren’t guys who met as adults. They were found by Mistress Harga as infants, and grew up and trained together. It makes that dynamic of jealousy and rivalry even more powerful.”
But if the characters Vâle and Timor have a contentious relationship, the opposite is true of Sitterson and Ossio. Both of them describe their creative collaboration as a constant back-and-forth, building on each other’s ideas to refine their fictional universe. One result is intricate character designs where the smallest details reveal fascinating aspects of the world.
“Everything you see on the characters was a conscious decision — nothing is random — and it’s all there to give readers an idea of who these characters are and where they’ve been, the adventures they’ve had,” Ossio tells EW. He continues, “From the beginning, it was less important that Vâle and Timór look like Goku and Vegeta, and more important that they feel like them. So, the goal was really to create designs that capture the characters’ personalities — modeling the characters directly after their inspirations was never really on the table. I ended up pulling additional inspiration from a ton of sources, a lot of manga and anime I love beyond just Dragon Ball. For instance, Vâle was built around a monk theme, while Timór has more of a ninja vibe, both of which fit with their characters. After I had the base down, I just kept adding accoutrements, and more everyday fashion elements like Timór’s sweatpants or Vâle’s jacket. It’s that combination of manga inspiration, American fashion, and my own personal style that makes our characters look so unique!”
The first issue of No One Left to Fight is available now, but EW can exclusively share a four-page prequel comic explaining some of the backstory. Narrated by Timór and the guitar-playing anthropomorphic tiger Billy Von Katz, it goes through the history of Vâle and Timór’s battles — but only hints at the greatest one. Check that out below.