Manga Review 'Superman vs. Meshi' Volume One

Superman vs. Meshi Vol. One
Writer: Satoshi Miyagawa
Artist: 
Kai Kitago
Published by Kodansha/DC Comics
Released September 5th, 2023
ISBN: 9781779523129

Review by Adam Ray

It's a rare but unique treat to get one of the most ambitious forms of comic book storytelling centered around one of the first and one of most prolifically written about characters in the history of comics. Superman has been a god, a savior of our world, and countless planets in the DC multiverse. Superman vs. Meshi features Superman in his strangest adventure yet... gorging himself on Japanese food.
The title loosely means Superman Versus Food. All seven chapters are structured around Superman flying to Japan and having an enlightened experience by trying discount Japanese food. That's it. That's the plot.

The artwork by Kai Kitago is highly stylized, taking heavy heavy inspiration from the wider DC media. The visions of Steppenwolf and the Parademons are straight from Zack Snyder's Justice League, the dramatic backdrop around Batman resembles the poster from The Dark Knight Rises, and even Superman's likeness and flying poses deeply remind me of Christopher Reeve. These ins are essential for communicating the characters to those who don't know them beyond those iconic movies. For a DC comics fan like myself, they're welcome respectful nods to the other media.
I think I was about halfway through the volume when I realized why I was okay with the very unusual premise. I can imagine Superman becoming obsessed with Japanese food, and flying across the world for tempura, but between issues of Action Comics. His antics with Jimmy Olsen or his meetings with the rest of the Justice League are what Superman does day to day, and as a repast, he flies across the world for Japan's finest cuisine. However, this all becomes a little hard to stomach when this is the only set of events in the entire volume.
Superman Vs Meshi presents us with a few moments of hope. Each member of the Justice League is portrayed perfectly. The look into an awkward Clark Kent following Lois Lane on Pixtagraph. The idea that Hal Jordan's Green Lantern is missing in action is something they'll hopefully explore in later volumes; has he been possessed by Parallax again, or is he lost in deep space? This is all stuff that's deeply interesting and could make for a great possible storyline. We won't necessarily explore it though, simply because the main plot is centered on Superman's gluttony for glutinous rice.
Conclusion

Superman vs. Meshi is a fun, harmless retelling of what The Man of Steel may be doing between adventures. It's harmless in small doses, as we can read his more heroic journeys in Action Comics, and then fill in the blanks between storylines with his actions in this manga. We can count on Satoshi Miyagawa to bring us more of Superman's eating habits, but I think I might take my hard-earned yen and dine with a different Superman story next time.
Images and Review Copy Courtesy of Penguin Random House

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