by Arpad OkaySuper Battle Lunchtime reads like the silly, sweet, sci-fi fever dream of Alton Brown. The format, a cooking show competition, is something many of us are familiar with. But the contestants are (amongst others) a crawdad in a Jaeger, a sexy expat from Captain Harlock, a DinoSaur egg with three eyes, and a girl from the coffee shop from around the corner. The latter’s name is Peony, the surprise guest and potential dark horse of our tale. The Chairman of Iron Chef Galaxy is an eight-sided die with arms. If you love cooking shows, this is a book for you. Why? Because it’s going to reward that love. And if you like meta-television shows like Larry Sanders or 30 Rock, this book is for you, too.

Writer/artist/creator Natalie Riess throws a ton of pasta at the wall in the first issue, but it all sticks. There’s no shortage of unique characters in front of and behind the camera, and its fast-paced plot jumps from café to space station in a blink and doesn’t wait for you to catch up. Super Battle Lunchtime is crafted well enough that this borderline information overload isn’t a problem at all. It is breezy and fun, full of detail but never bogged down by it. In fact, though a great deal happens swiftly, there is still plenty of time for Riess to linger in delightful, tiny moments. The friendly robot arm waving goodbye. The personal assistant with a flip phone. The barista at the coffee shop reading one of my favorite books. The Bil Keane dotted line — a criminally underused device in comics. The crazy space cutlery and unfathomable secret ingredients.

This comic is gorgeous. Riess has a glib, flexible hand that matches the tone of the story. Serious when it needs to be, cartoonish as it wants to be. Her coloring is wonderful, a Gobstopper of a palette that extends from characters to backgrounds to speech bubbles. Every choice in this book is measured and joyous. The aliens come in a thousand flavors, unbound by the anthropomorphism that lesser creators don’t travel beyond. Super Battle Lunchtime looks like Strawberry Shortcake meets Copra meets Chopped. A solid debut with a ton of promise for the rest of the series. I cannot wait for next month: if the dishes the next issues serve contain an iota of the creativity that went into the chefs, this comic deserves all the (Michelin) stars.

Oni Press / $3.99

Written, illustrated, colored and lettered by Natalie Riess.

Designed by Hilary Thompson.

8 out of 10