A science fiction cooking show has just wrapped its first episode and Peony managed to stay in the running. Episode 2 hits this week, but is it good?
Space Battle Lunchtime #3 (Oni Press)
So what’s it about? The official Oni summary reads:
After surviving one round of Space Battle Lunchtime, Peony is a little more confident in her cooking abilities. And the chefs are warned against sabotaging each other, so maybe this round will go a little more smoothly. OR… the sabotage will continue! And this time, someone may end up in the hospital!
Why does this book matter?
Writer and artist Natalie Riess has won me over with her well paced and endearing storytelling style. She’s also infused it with some fun science fiction elements that can be enjoyed by all ages. Plus, she has a very unique art style that’s cartoony and inventive with its alien designs.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue opens with a “Previously on…” page and it does so with new images making it fun for new and old readers. In fact, this summary helps a great deal and I would wager new readers could jump on board with this issue. That said, the first two issues haven’t contained that much story so it’d be easy to follow along anyway, but that’s not a knock; the pace at which this story flows is a nice speed that allows readers to soak in Peony’s experience and reflect on the absurdity of cooking with alien materials.
Which is one of the highlights of this issue. Peony must cook with a rock and make something delicious out of it. Now that she’s had one episode to figure out how the oven works she’s got a chip on her shoulder, but at the same time she must overcome the other contestants who are sabotaging each other. Riess introduces this rock ingredient in a hilarious way too with a backstory involving the “Health Food Wars,” which brings a rather hilarious image to mind.
A slower pace, but each panel is intriguing.
Riess continues to impress with the subtle but meaningful character development and relationship building too. Peony seems to be growing on two characters and it’s nice to see how friendship – and maybe even romance – are budding.
The actual cooking is exciting too! We get another intense cooking montage as well as a fun full page spread of the plating the contestants have done. There’s also a fun panel that shows Peony preparing a cupcake with three bowls of ingredients floating next to her; this sets up the next three panels as we see the ingredients going on her cupcakes and in the final panel we get the finished food. There are plenty of fun and creative ways Riess moves the story forward like this.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This issue is quite flawless, but I do wish Peony asked somebody what the winner gets, or why she was basically kidnapped. It’s a fluffy sort of story sure and it’s out of this world literally and figuratively, but you have to wonder what the bigger picture is at this point.
Is It Good?
Space Battle Lunchtime is setting a new precedent with a genre I’m sure will inspire more cooking comics after it. It manages to do so much well, from character development to exciting cooking montages, and a fun premise with a great sense of humor.