So . . . er, okay, full disclosure: I’ve never read the comic Chew before, yet I find myself reviewing Issue #29, the fourth of a five-issue arc called “Space Cakes.” It is obviously not an ideal point to be jumping into a story, but I’ve heard so many amazing things about this comic that I decided I should just throw myself in. Sink or swim. And, after reading the penultimate issue of this arc . . . I’d say I’m dog paddling.
From Wikipedia: Chew is an Eisner Award-winning American comic book series written by John Layman with art by Rob Guillory and published by Image Comics. It is a story about an FDA Agent who solves crimes by getting psychic impressions by eating things, including people. Because of backstory that I don’t know, the main character Tony Chew only appears in this issue in the first few pages in the hospital. Issue #29 mostly follows his sister Toni Chu, his former partner Caesar Valenzano, and his current partner, a cyborg named John Colby, as they try to unravel a mystery I also don’t fully understand involving an unnaturally effective beauty salon and a fake vampire who is actually just a cibopath. Tony and Toni Chu are also Cibopaths, which means they can take a bite of anything and get a psychic sensation of what has happened to that object, although it seems that Toni is more of a Cibovoyant, meaning she can see the future of the things she eats, which seems cool until you consider the unfortunate side effects of seeing the future of a meal while eating it. I hope this is something she can turn off. Anyway, I should actually steer clear of plot, because I really don’t know what’s going on.
It was surprising, though, how enjoyable the comic was despite jumping into the story in the middle of the conclusion of an arc. This comic is hilarious. The art is incredibly cartoonish and fun, with little entertaining details and commentary all over the place. Things like one character taking a bite out of a stranger’s shoulder to see their future also reinforce the silliness that pervades this comic. I think my favorite part was a Family Guy-style reference jump cut in the form of a two-page spread of a giant cyborg chicken, called Poyo, in a Tokyo monster clash with Mecha Turducken. The characters were also funny and accessible; from what I gather, they work together at a Men In Black-type organization, though each of them seems to hail from various other, less glamorous acronyms, like the FDA, USDA, and NASA. I’m really looking forward to learning more about each of them. The characters, that is, not the acronyms.
From reading this one issue, I was shocked and delighted at the wit and gleeful abandon with which the creators told their story. But, maybe instead of jumping on the train now while it’s speeding along, go back and check out the collected volumes first and catch up. That’s what I plan on doing.