Wonton Soup

James Stokoe, Author, James Stokoe, Illustrator Oni $11.95 (200p) ISBN 978-1-932664-60-7

There’s a longstanding tradition of “science fiction” stories that actually belong to other genres and simply have freaky alien names grafted on, from space Westerns to space war stories. Space Iron Chef, though—that’s a new one. Stokoe’s wittily vulgar debut graphic novel follows former-cook–turned–space trucker Johnny Boyo as he fights off space ninjas, returns to the planet of his ex-girlfriend Citrus Watts, and finally faces a cook-off duel with a pair of alien twins who’ll stop at nothing to achieve culinary victory. The SF material is self-consciously inane, and the plot is stream-of-consciousness at best—it’s mostly an excuse for a series of nutty set pieces, like one in which Boyo tries a “high risk cooking” adventure, preparing a dish from a “hive-minded” creature that strangles its cooks if its lettuce bed is insufficiently finely shredded. The point of the book is its wall-to-wall silliness; it never quite aims for peaks of hilarity, but it’s consistently amusing. Stokoe’s line work, a sort of graffiti- and manga-inspired update on Vaughn Bodé’s old underground comix, is appropriately lighthearted and loose, but he’s as passionate about visual world building as Boyo is about flavor blending—he takes obvious glee in drawing huge, wobbly piles of fantastically detailed technology, bug-eyed monsters and goofy handshakes. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 01/07/2008
Release date: 12/01/2007
Genre: Fiction
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