SAN DIEGO • Marvel heroes wear capes. Now, they also wear aprons.
Meet Anna Ameyama. The newest member of the Marvel Entertainment LLC universe will make her debut on Aug 8 on Marvel Unlimited as the star of “T.E.S.T. Kitchen”. Along with all the requisite comic book action, each instalment will include a recipe.
“As Marvel continued to expand our efforts into the culinary space — from our original Food & Comics panels at comic-cons; to developing our food-centric Eat The Universe brand, products and content; to the culinary concepts you see at places like Avengers Campus — creating an in-universe character to be at the front of all these endeavours only made more sense,” says CB Cebulski, editor in chief of Marvel Comics, which is owned by the Walt Disney Co.
Marvel’s “Infinity Comics”, which launched in September 2021, was designed as a vertical format to be streamed on phones and tablets, starring the likes of Black Widow, Captain America and Deadpool. “Infinity Comics” titles break into the top 10 of most read issues on Marvel Unlimited, which has over 30,000 comics, on a daily basis.
Cebulski says that “Infinity Comics” help broaden Marvel’s audience to a generation that consumes everything on screens. “Digital, vertical and global are three areas in the market where we are currently seeing tremendous growth in comic book reading.”
He adds: “A comic like ’T.E.S.T. Kitchen’, which contains both stories and recipes, will hopefully appeal to a different kind of viewer/reader than we traditionally reach at Marvel.”
Cebulski says that the vertical storytelling aspect of the “Infinity Comics” “works perfectly” to illustrate a concept like cooking, giving it a video-like aspect, especially if you’re quickly scrolling through a screen. “It also allows us to reach a wider demographic than our printed super hero comics,” he adds.
In “T.E.S.T. Kitchen”, which was written by chef Paul Eschbach and illustrated by artist EJ Su, Ameyama is introduced to the superhero team when Iron Man crashes into her food truck, parked on a Manhattan street. (She lets customers know that she cooked at high-flying places like Jean-Georges in New York and Den in Tokyo, the No 1 restaurant in Asia, before going out on her own.)
As she’s handing over the daily special — pork katsu torta on a handmade telera with secret sauce — Screech, Blat, KRASH — Iron Man falls from the sky and lands on her truck. He’s starving so she makes him a torta. (There’s a lack of shawarma places, he says, to keep the joke from the original “Avengers” film going).
On the spot, he hires her to come work at Stark Enterprises, where her opportunity to fight the forces of evil will be amplified. Unsurprisingly, the recipe for the inaugural episode is “The torta that knocked out Iron Man”.
Marvel isn’t releasing any more spoiler alerts for the series. A spokesperson for Marvel Entertainment said that Ameyama won’t have super powers beyond extraordinary knife skills, although there might be a secret “Avengers” legacy revealed in future episodes. — Bloomberg / Pics source: EJ Sum/Paul Eschbach/Marvel