Superman vs. Meshi Volume 1
In Superman vs. Meshi by Satoshi Miyagawa and Kai Kitago, Superman loves the food in Japanese chain restaurants. He uses his powers to jaunt around the world to get lunch and still get back to work at the Daily Planet an hour later.
This is the kind of superhero comic I can get behind! I know the genre exists to fight battles for justice, but sometimes, I get tired of all that punching. If I was a superhero, this is what I’d use superpowers for: eating tasty global cuisine.
Don’t worry, Superman isn’t neglecting his duties to munch down a beef bowl or dine on convenience store snacks. We’re told early on, “Thanks to Superman, the world is at peace.” (Another way this differs from most superhero comics.) There’s even a brief “origin story” explanation of Superman’s cravings, of how he was first introduced to yakitori after saving a food truck from a giant alien warrior. He was offered the leftovers, and they were so tasty, he couldn’t control his heat vision. As this shows, there’s a light-hearted approach here that’s great fun to read.
The art is clearly influenced by Christopher Reeve in the 1978 Superman movie. Not only is there a visual resemblance, but we’re introduced to Superman saving Lois Lane from a dangling helicopter, and the character regularly makes references to himself as a Kansas farm boy. There’s even a gag about world-spinning.
I found myself wondering if this is some kind of cultural pride seeping through, the idea that America’s greatest hero would find Japanese food the tastiest (because it’s “cheap, delicious, and … high quality”), but I stopped thinking that hard every time he stepped through a door and announced himself as “one Superman for lunch.”
One chapter has him comparing the members of the Justice League to various pieces of tempura in an “all-star” bowl. Another has him showing Batman an authentic, homey Japanese restaurant, where they talk about food and memory. The weirdest (and so funniest) is when he goes for sushi with Aquaman — it turns out that Aquaman’s ability to talk to fish extends to sliced fish, so he converses with the sushi … before he eats it.
Superman waxes poetic about the flavors and dishes he samples, a different one in every chapter, so the reader learns about common Japanese meals. And will likely wind up wanting to eat some of them, as they all sound wonderful. Even when he orders something other than what he intended, as he needs to brush up on his kanji.
Superman vs. Meshi is an approachable, silly way to appreciate both the world’s most famous superhero and Japanese fast food.
(Review originally posted at Good Comics for Kids.)