It is sad to think about Chew finally coming to an end. Since 2009, writer John Layman and artist Rob Guillory have been entertaining readers with their superpowered characters. They managed to take the superhero/superpower genre, that can sometimes feel stale, and give it a real sense of freshness by infusing their characters with food inspired abilities.
Chew #56 is the first part of what is essentially being planned as the last arc in the comic book. If you are a long time reader of this series then these are sad days. It has been hinted at for over a year now that the comic was going to end somewhere around issue 60.
To recap, the main character of this comic is Tony Chu, a detective for the FDA. Tony has the ability to the learn the complete history of anything he eats, including people. The only thing that blocks his abilities are beets. For much of the comic, Tony has been in opposition to Mason Savoy. Savoy has similar powers to Tony. Mason isn’t really a bad guy so much as a rival to Tony. In the end, the two usually want the same things they just have different methods of going about accomplishing them. Tony is more by the book, whereas Mason operates in the shadows and is willing to break the law.
Since the early issues of the comic there have been hints of some earth ending cataclysmic event approaching. However, this event has been overshadowed for much of the series by the criminal activities of The Collector. A bad guy who’s main goal is to steal the powers of other people. The Collector is dead, so this earth ending event is finally being made the main focus of the series. Mason Savoy is now dead as well, and he seems to know more than Tony on what events are prophesied to come.
Chew #56 picks up right after the death of Mason. Before his death, Mason managed to save Amelia Mintz, Tony’s wife, and steal a manuscript to a book she was writing. Tony is trying to get to the bottom of why Mason decided to steal the manuscript from Amelia.
Getting the information he wants will involve Tony eating the dead remains of his rival. This issue in particular is incredibly humorous – like most of the series. The feast begins for Tony, but instead of directly getting the information he wants, instead he is given a scolding from the afterlife.
The writing and dialogue are particularly hilarious, Layman is always impressive. Despite, this being one of the funnier comic book series in print, Layman can’t be given complete credit for its sense of humor.
The humor and tone of the comic is both a mixture of dark comedy and slapstick. The characters are all exaggerated to some degree or another. The comic is dark in the nature that it makes cannibalism seem fairly light hearted. This is illustrated by the over the top rivalry Tony has with his brother Chow. At the end of the issue Tony is asking Chow to cook up Mason’s Savoy’s body in a way he can stomach it. Chow agrees, but only because the partnership is convenient for him, and not out of some sort of familial obligation to help.
Guillory is a talented artist, who manages to give life to the insane scenarios, and food based abilities that are dreamed up by the writer. His style isn’t serious in the least bit, and is hardly realistic. He seems to very much fall into the Jack Kirby camp of comic book illustration when drawing his action scenes.
Guillory gets to let his imagination run wild with this series. Much of what is being done is original when it comes to the superpowers. I imagine part of the fun is figuring out how some of these things should work in this fictional universe.
Each, issue of this comic there seems to be some sort of new and original food based power that is highlighted. Whether it be someone who can craft weaponry from chocolate or tortilla chips, or can turn vegetables into rampaging monsters. Guillory also gets to create new powers for the ice cream based villain. A villain who not only kill people with treats he serves, but also can encase his hands in ice to be used as weapons.
Although, much of this issue is spent with Tony being given a lecture from the dead Mason, there is still some good action. As usual the action is bizarre, but fun to look at. Guillory, does a great job illustrating an ice cream based villain – the visual alone will make you laugh out loud.
As for the colors, this comic is bright. This series isn’t some dark gritty comic from the 80s and 90s. Things usually remain bright, and seem hopeful, despite the looming apocalypse.
This is a must read for anyone who has been reading Chew from the beginning. It kicks off what is possibly the last story arc in the series. Chew #56 is a funny comic, that focuses mostly on Tony and Mason having a dialogue from the afterlife, but there is still a good bit of action.
- The ice cream villain that Rob Guillory illustrates looks hilarious
- Earth ending event finally being focused on
- Mason scolding Tony from the dead