Cashing In On The Art of War: Brandon & Ribic's VS

Image Comics March 2018 cover
Credit: Esad Ribic/Nick Klein (Image Comics)
Credit: Esad Ribić/Nic Klein (Image Comics)

Professional sports as always been a staple of entertainment and with the invention of the television broadcasts, people have become even more invested in the outcome. From baseball to hockey to even the likes of MMA and professional wrestling, nothing brings people together like live entertainment.

What if a sport you could watch was war itself?

Announced at 2016’s Image Expo, VS by Ivan Brandon, Esad Ribic, and Nic Klein take readers into a world where war is the ultimate sport, soldiers march into battle and get paid to win by their sponsoring nations. It’s glory but to those who can afford it.

Credit: Esad Ribić/Nic Klein (Image Comics)

Leading it off is this sport's ultimate fighter, Satta Flynn.

For Brandon, VS is the latest in a string of bande dessinee tinged sci-fi creator-owned comic books, but for Ribic its his first creator-owned title ever - picking up off his last major series, Marvel's Secret Wars.

After that game-changing war on the Marvel landscape, Ribic has gone right back to it - and with Brandon, has re-imagined what could be don ewith it.

Credit: Esad Ribić/Nic Klein (Image Comics)

“War has been privatized and monetized,” Brandon explained about the world of VS. “It's a spectator sport where the results lead to gains, or not, for the sponsor nations. It's a grand and bloody event.”

Ribic said it was Brandon that convinced him to do VS.

Joining Brandon, Ribic, and colorist Nic Klein is Tom Muller, a graphic designer who has on several of Brandon's previous series, as well as work for DC and Valiant.

Credit: Esad Ribić/Nic Klein (Image Comics)

“Tom did his first big comics work with me and has done all my books for almost 10 years now,” Brandon said. “We're tied at the hip. Somehow that works over several thousand miles. He's the best in the business, and I'm too spoiled to do anything else.”

Speaking of designs, Ribic mentioned that “history, old school science fiction” were the main inspirations behind the aesthetics for the characters and alien worlds.

Brandon also opened up about having Nic Klein work on colors and working to make the final pages "as bold as Ribic's own paintings, but different."

Credit: Esad Ribić/Nic Klein (Image Comics)

“As with the design, I'm kind of a control freak with the presentation on my books, and so I struggled with trying to figure out what the aesthetic for VS was gonna be." Brandon said. "Esad's a painter and I wanted this to be the best he's ever looked... as bold as his own paintings, but different."

"There aren't too many painters in comics," the writer continued, "and Nic Klein is one of the best of the best working in color or art, so once we thought of him, nobody else would do. Nic is in a class of his own and he and Esad are like a supergroup. I'm the groupie.”

Lastly, both Ribic and Brandon joked around about how they’d survive televised combat.

“I'd hop on Esad's back and with enough espresso, I think we'd make it,” Brandon said.

Ribic added to that, saying, "I always have a shotgun with me.”

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