Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews—now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘No One Left to Fight’ #1, out July 3 from Dark Horse Comics.

'No One Left to Fight' #1: The DoomRocket Review
Cover to ‘No One Left to Fight’ #1. Art: Fico Ossio/Dark Horse Comics

THIS ADVANCE REVIEW OF ‘NO ONE LEFT TO FIGHT’ #1 CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.

by Brendan Hodgdon. When one creates an original story out of the tropes and aesthetics of a particularly celebrated property, there is always a risk. Sure, it gives you the chance to examine the nature of said property in an unfettered way, but will you hew too closely to it and make your story feel like a ripoff? Will you stray too far and lose the recognition and sense of deconstruction that was the basis for your story in the first place? These were the challenges facing No One Left to Fight and its creative team of Aubrey Sitterson, Fico Ossio, and Taylor Esposito, and this first issue is an effective demonstration about how to handle those challenges the right way.

The first step that Sitterson takes towards this goal is in hanging his Dragon Ball Z-inspired plot on a very August: Osage County-esque framework, offering up an atypical sort of story for this kind of world. That’s because Sitterson’s script, despite being wrapped in the gaudy excess of a fantasy realm, is actually a very intimate and character-driven tale that’s told almost exclusively within the confines of a suburban home. The main focus is on the trio of Vâle, Krysta and Timór, old friends reuniting to address some unsettled business from a years-past battle. Along the way, Sitterson examines the lingering emotions and resentments among this trio, using their reunion to crank up the heat and set the pot to boil. 

But thanks to Ossio, we never lose the sense of the otherworldly. From humanoid crab bros and pet cephalopods to day-glo hair and cyberpunk Village People outfits, Ossio doesn’t hold back one bit in his conception of this world. Even for those who may not love the talkative nature of the book, Ossio’s eye-candy (emphasis on candy) provides more than enough flash to keep you reading. It’s the colors in particular that really blow one’s socks off, as Ossio almost goes too far in his unrelenting deployment of pastels and neons. In the end, he ensures that you can’t possibly mistake this story as taking place in the real world, in provocative contrast to the grounded human conflicts that Sitterson establishes here. 

Esposito’s letters are a key component in bridging the gap between these two opposing poles. While for most of the issue he plays things subdued and even-keel, when the interpersonal conflicts begin to boil over and the kamehameha energy starts coming out, Esposito leans hard into the bombast, stretching huge letters across entire panels to highlight the immense power and emotional weight of the moment. After a whole issue of buildup to this one particular release, Esposito’s letters play a big role in capturing its impact.

So yes, despite the title, eventually there is someone for Vâle to fight by the end of this issue, though that is still not the only source of distress that Sitterson, Ossio and Esposito offer to our hero. Throughout the issue, they also hint at something larger being amiss, as Vâle is haunted by glimpses of worlds and figures that don’t exist or are no longer present. But while the mystery of these visions will most likely be key to the series going forward, the execution of these moments (the way they were laid out, the lack of inner monologue for context) left them a bit awkward and hard to follow, though not to the point that it detracted from the momentum of the issue overall.

After luring in readers with flashy colors, stylized character designs and aesthetic echoes of formative 90s anime, it is the emotion and intimacy of No One Left to Fight that makes it such an engaging read. Sitterson, Ossio and Esposito offer an eye-catching piece of old-school dramaturgy in comic book form, built on the understanding that “action” doesn’t have to just mean energy blasts and martial artistry. No One Left to Fight speaks to the atypical approach that makes it such a success.

Dark Horse Comics / $3.99

Written by Aubrey Sitterson.

Art by Fico Ossio.

Letters by Taylor Esposito.

8.5 out of 10

‘No One Left to Fight’ #1 hits stores with a vengeance July 3.

Check out this 3-page preview of ‘No One Left to Fight’ #1, courtesy of Dark Horse Comics!

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