I’ve read my fair share of Manga and “Superman” comics. However, I never read a Manga centered around the Man of Steel. When I heard the news that DC Comics was partnering with Manga publisher Kodansha (“Attack on Titan”) to produce “Superman vs. Meshi,” I knew I was going to be in for a fun story. And what better story to read than my favorite superhero enjoying one of my favorite foods: Japanese Food?
Written by Satoshi Miyagawa (“One Operation Joker”) and illustrated by Kai Kitago, “Superman vs Meshi” takes place in a DC Universe that is almost at peace and not so much action thanks to the efforts of Superman and the Justice League. And with the world barely being terrorized, and Clark Kent not having much to do, what better way to spend some time than going to the finest restaurants in the Land of the Rising Sun? Especially when he is able to fly himself there without the need to buy a plane ticket.
What makes this manga so fun is that with his writing and dialogue, Miyagawa’s Superman encapsulates several versions of Superman we have seen in various media. As Superman is describing the tastes of the Japanese dishes, I can hear the boyish exuberance of Tyler Hoechlin from “Superman and Lois” and the mild-mannered clumsiness of Christopher Reeve from the Richard Donner films. In addition, I felt that Miyagawa’s Superman evoked some of Tom Welling’s Clark from “Smallville” when the hero hopes to spend time with Lois Lane and enjoy Japanese food with her not as Superman, but as Clark Kent.
Miyagawa also does the same with various characters from Lois Lane to the Justice League; notably Batman and Aquaman. Miyagawa’s Lois is a fun blend of “Superman and Lois’” Bitsie Tulloch and Margot Kidder, from the Donner films.
Whenever I read Batman’s dialogue, I often hear a blend of voices of the late Kevin Conroy from “Batman the Animated Series” and Diedrich Baker from “Batman: The Brave and the Bold.” And when it comes to reading the dialogue from Aquaman, I cannot help but hear Jason Mamoa being boisterous and gleeful.
As far as the chemistry between the characters, both Miyagawa’s Superman and Batman personalities are a perfect contrast to each other. You have the lighthearted and upbeat Superman who playfully castigates the straightfaced and grounded Batman for taking him to an upscale Japanese restaurant in Gotham. Like the finest ingredients made into some great tasting ramen, the personalities blend together after Superman takes Batman to a restaurant in Japan where they try out various foods.
Additionally, the chemistry between Superman and Aquaman was hilarious as they are seen as high energy and gleeful foodies. While Superman seems more of a connoisseur of Japanese cuisine, Aquaman is seen as a bit kidlike as he talks to his sushi that was once fish. However, this does not deter the two heroes as they hilariously enjoy their sushi.
As always, we cannot forget the manga art done by Kai Kitago which I feel is a perfect ingredient to this comic. You can see Superman’s childlike demeanor in his facial expression when he tries out the different Japanese foods. Also, one of my favorite panels shows Superman emitting his heat vision when he is overwhelmed by foods that are delicious. This becomes a recurring gag in the Manga.
What also amazes me about Kai Kitago’s art is that it shows a close up of the food that Superman is eating. Whether the Man of Tomorrow is eating ramen, chicken, pork bowls, sushi, or tempura, the art is very detailed and is reminiscent of the art done by the father of Manga, Osamu Tezuka (the creator of “Astro Boy”). And coupled with Superman enjoying the Japanese food he eats, the art enchants us to vicariously share the Big Blue Boyscout’s satisfaction.
I also feel that the lettering done by Wes Abbot stays true to how the lettering is done in the Manga publications like Shonen Jump and several other publications.
In closing, I would give “Superman vs Meshi” a 9 out of 10. The Manga is a Superman story that puts the Man of Steel in a mundane yet fun circumstance in which he tried Japanese food by going to different restaurants in Japan. “Superman vs Meshi” also further humanizes the hero who is actually more like Clark Kent than he is Superman which makes him even more relevant to all of us. I write this because like any human being, even men or women who are faster than a speed bullet and more powerful than a locomotive, want to travel to different places and try different things.
“Superman vs Meshi Vol. no 1” is out now wherever books are sold.