Review: Space Battle Lunchtime #3

Plucky protagonist Peony proceeds to establish herself, particularly off-camera if not on. Her infectious good nature is winning people over as chaos erupts from the petty conniving among other contestants. And I wish I could be more excited about the way things are going. Sadly, this issue is so similar to issue two it hurts. Space Battle Lunchtime has hit a lull something fierce. It feels like it's going to coast on the cute dialogue, the beauty of its art style and the charm of its idiosyncratic character designs.

We get a better look into Peony's mind this issue. Much of her personality gets expressed through the subtlety of Natalie Riess' illustrations. Peony's expressions are surprisingly soulful and panels Space Battle Lunchtime #3are composed very nicely to show off body language. Our hero still seems like a silent passenger in her own story, but I feel I understand her more now that I've seen her reaction to adversity. She frames the human-as-alien experience within her core competency. And that frame expands to impact her interactions with these strange circumstances. Peony is a (presumably good) cook and, though her confidence may waver, she knows what she can do. She's asserting herself through the use of her most obvious skill as a kitchen wizard. Beyond that, the book is building up Peony's ability to attract others. And that’s it. The book really needs her to take a more active role in the weak plot if only for the sake of giving her something new to do.

I'd like to see Riess explore more of the universe she has created. I can appreciate the book's narrow focus on the battle kitchen. However, I worry that the central appeal of Space Battle Lunchtime -- its weird alien setting -- will prove boring by the end of the mini-series. In a book where every character seems to come from a different species I'd like to learn more about the people whose judgment and behavior I'm supposes to find entertaining.

I don't know how well the series will hold up. The structure is beginning to wear thin, the characters are in a holding pattern, and I'm losing interest in the competition that gives the book its name. Space Battle Lunchtime hasn't lost me yet, but I'm not tremendously optimistic about the book's future.

[su_box title="Score: 2/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]

Space Battle Lunchtime #3
Writer: Natalie Riess
Artist: Natalie Riess
Publisher: Oni Press
Price: $3.99
Format:  Mini-Series; Print/Digital