Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #33 by Drew Barth
No One’s Left
I’ve talked about shonen manga a few times on here—both positively and negatively—but it’s hard to overstate the influence shonen as a genre has had on western comics. Many creators have talked about their love for the genre as younger kids watching Dragonball orNaruto and inevitably being drawn further into manga as a whole. And it’s not hard to see why. With its fast-paced action taking up whole pages combined with impeccable characters, shonen series can feel almost like a precursor to the wide-screen comics of the early 2000s. Recently, though, Dark Horse have released a series that is a pure distillation of the intersection where shonen manga and western superhero comics meet: Aubrey Sitterson and Fico Ossio’s No One Left to Fight.
From the first cover alone we can already see the explosion of color and influence all over the place. Our red-clad protagonist, Vale, with his large beaded necklace that already draws on many interpretations of Sun Wukong of Journey to the West—one of the main influences on the creation of Dragonball’s Goku—and the goggles on his forehead that hearken to Naruto’s first design in his titular manga. We also have Timor, the blue rival of Vale, and his wife Krysta to complete the spectrum of protagonists. They’re naively optimistic, bitterly hotheaded, and create a trichotomy that calls to mind, again, series like Dragonball and Narutoas well as the iconic trio of DC heroes like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. And with a tagline like “The comic you always wanted!” Sitterson and Ossio know exactly what kind of series they’ve created and want the readers to know what kind of fun they can have here.
No One Left to Fight is more than just the sum of its influences. As a series, it goes to places many of the more iconic shonen series never go: beyond the earth-saving final fight. Vale is that protagonist who saved the world. Now what else is there to do?
The story starts with Vale, Timor, and Krysta going back to the site of Vale’s grandest moment because Vale doesn’t know what to do with himself anymore. He’s a wanderer. The first two issues show small glimpses of where the story is going to go, but the story has yet to concretize. This uncertainty can open up the story to a great deal of darker side paths to explore the futility of the fight and the place of the hero in the world. And yet the story doesn’t appear to choose those paths. Vale as a character maintains that continual positivity that has become a staple of many shonen protagonists—even in the most perilous of situations does that grin of “everything will be okay” maintain.
As a new comic series, No One Left to Fight is refreshing in its sincerity. Sitterson and Ossio are acutely aware of their influences without ever putting down the campiness of the past. Even when looking at the colorful brightness of the world or the “The comic you always wanted!” tagline, the series never comes off as doing everything as a joke. Even with all of the work of the past behind it, No One Left to Fight is still a series pointed toward the future.
Get excited. Punch more.
Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.