Happy New Year!!! With a new year I would like to introduce a comic that many may not know about. Weird food powers. A ban on poultry. The FDA is as powerful if not more powerful than the FBI. Throw in some great artwork and nerdy references and I am hooked. The comic that I’m referring to is Chew. One of Image’s greatest comics, written by John Layman and drawn and colored by Rob Guillory. I was hooked from issue one and this is one of the rare instances where I read issue one when it came out. I try to catch new series early, but a lot of them lose my interest early. Others I find out about a couple of trades in. The cover sold me and I had no idea about the content.
If you don’t know anything about it let me introduce you right now. The lead character is Tony Chu. He is a cibopath meaning Tony can take a bite from anything and get a psychic sensation of what has happened to that object. The obvious leap from this is having Tony eat gross things (which he does), but I believe it not to be too grossly over the top. One could even say it’s done tastefully. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself) Slowly but sure Layman adds to this special power with other food related abilities, such as a saboscrivner, that can write about food so accurately that people get the sensation of taste when they read about the food. Or a cibolocuter, that is able to communicate through food, and can also translate written works like plays, poems and operas into their food.
As for the background we are introduced to a society where a large group of people died and it was blamed on avian flu. In response the government has outlawed poultry. This creates an underground drug ring, but with drugs being replaced with chicken. There is also claims that the whole thing is a lie propagated by the government itself for reasons we may not know yet. Not to mention corporations trying to make a buck (I swear this is not happening on purpose) on poultry-free chicken substitutes.
While reading (or re-reading as I especially tend to do with this one) pay attention to the details in the background. There are a lot of nerdy references to all sorts of pop culture. I didn’t realize this until I was a couple of issues in, so I backtracked just to find the jokes I had missed. For example, in the police station there are officers names on a black board for cases they are assigned to. Upon closer inspection we find that many of the names are characters from Battlestar Galactica such as Adama and Thrace.
I highly recommend picking up Chew Vol. 1, which you can find at most comic book shops for the low low price of $9.99. I prefer reading them in trade form since the stories are done in 5-issue arcs, but with larger story lines spanning multiple trades. Issue #23 comes out this wednesday for those who pick up issues monthly. There are talks into turning it into a 30-minute Showtime comedy which could turn out well (Here’s hoping!) I really can’t praise this comic enough, but for all the up to date news make sure to visit The Official Chew Blog.