Oni Press 2016
Created, Written & Illustrated by Natalie Riess
Meet the chefs of the hit show Space Battle Lunchtime! Peony, the only contestant from Earth (and the only one who’s never heard of the show before!), is having a bit of trouble with her ingredient—which comes from a planet she didn’t even know existed. (Also: What is Moon Butter???) But it’s the other chefs she’ll need to watch out for—they’ll stop at nothing to win.
I like this it has all the qualities of Chopped set in an intergalactic setting with the lone human Peony having been thrust into a situation she wasn’t prepared for. The chef’s are ruthless and want to win this competition and will go to great lengths to do so. I’ve what’s at stake for them if they win or lose but i’m sure as the story goes on we’ll find out. I’d imagine in this show there might not be any consequences and bragging rights and packed restaurant after but you never know.
Natalie does a really nice job here with everything. It’s cute to look a with a hint of scary so that you get the feeling Peony is out of her element but she’s a strong woman and carries herself well. The way the story flows through the pages and panels is well done. The imagination in creating these alien species is inventive and creative as are the foods the contestants are given as a surprise.
Her style does lend itself nicely to an all-ages book and in the spirit of cooking and creativity not to mention the message of finding friends in the least likely places really do justice to any audience. There are times when a chef either messes up or is sabotaged and a fight breaks out and that’s fun to see or they pantry and they fight over ingredients but again the way it’s presented is pure entertainment.
There are also moments of humour that you find that aren’t possibly as planned out they just happen. The reaction to Moon Butter was classic. Then as the contestants are interviewed during their cooking it’s standard fare and it’s really well done so the characterization is wonderfully evident. You get a good feel for each character here and it’s I dunno not exactly light but it does let you escape and have some fun.
If you’d like something familiar and yet completely different than you should be reading this. Oni Press has a very extensive list of these types of books and I think this is only the beginning of Peony’s story so get in on the ground floor. Personally while I don’t know if she’ll win the competition i’d love to see her open a restaurant in space when it’s all said and done or maybe host her own intergalactic cooking show. There’s a franchise in the making here and it’s a great way to spend some time.