Review: Chew #1

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There is a detective named Chu

It’s extremely hard to come up with a new concept in comics but in my very long reading experience I can honestly say that I have never heard this one before. You see, there’s this homicide cop who eats the victims flesh to gain psychic information about how they died and armed with that inside knowledge; go out to try to catch their killers. If nothing else, you have to give the writer John Layman credit for coming up with this quixotic notion. Imagine yourself going into a major film studio pitch meeting in which you only had one minute to come up with a pioneering idea to impress a jaded studio executive and rolling this one out for their consideration. Seventy seconds after you had started speaking it would be handshakes and champagne all round. ‘Welcome to Hollywood, kid – you’re a natural!’

CHEW_1.jpgWho digests human flesh for a clue

So this guy, Mr Tony Chu, (yeah, his given name is a pun on the books title, cute huh!) is what they call a Cibopath. Don’t bother pulling out your Funk & Wagnall’s to look it up because it’s a brand new word for a brand new book. A marriage, if you will, of two Latin locutions: Cibo = food or meal and Pathia = suffering or empathy. In this issue we are not told exactly where and when he discovered he had this talent but I’m sure the forthcoming origin tale will dish it all out.

He usually eats beets

It’s not only Long Pig which talks to Tony but every morsel that he puts in his mouth has the potential to have a discourse with him. Vegetables are a safe bet to masticate because they lead a very sedentary existence and apparently Beets in particular are even more innocuous because even though they may have the potential to talk, they choose not to with Mr C and that suits him just fine. I am sure that everybody reading this review, was told by our mothers to eat up our vegetables because of the multiple health benefits that would accrue to us in later life but I don’t recall my Mom ever saying to me that one of those benefits was the fact that edible plant life was taciturn.

But they often repeat

From this point onwards, in my humble opinion, the plot moves in a downhill direction. We are now supposed to swallow the fact that chicken is now legally banned all across the country (the Poulstead Act, perhaps?) because of a fatal bird flu epidemic and that the Food & Drug Administration now spends its time hunting down capon crooks. Mr Chu and his partner John Colby (named after a type of cheese) are sequestered by an F.D.A agent called Savoy (which is also the name of a variety of cabbage — there’s another one of those subtle food references – clever huh!) to stop them from arresting one of the cities biggest chicken smuggles because the aforementioned crook is an F.D.A informant. Their reward for this cooperation is to a chicken dinner in the local speakeasy where Mr Chu’s talent leads them to a serial killer. I honestly kid you not! It must be said however that the art by Rob Guillory is very nice, especially a wonderful two page spread which is cleverly composed and deftly executed. The style and tone of the piece reminded me very strongly of the wonderful delineation done by Stephen DeStefano in that eighties D.C fan favourite ‘Mazing Man.

So his food can’t be classed, Cordon Bleu

To sum up, this isn’t a bad comic. In fact it has much to recommend it and if your comic reading tastes want a change from the recycled pap that the two main comic companies often produce then perhaps you should give this new dish a try. For me, after reading this issue I was a bit ambiguous about whether I would be coming back for a second helping. I suppose that even though I found the whole setup intriguing, in the end it was a bit hard to swallow.

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