As issue six of Starve is about to be released next month on February 17, it’s time for us to take a look at the first trade (available January 13) of the series written by Brian Wood and featuring artwork by Danijel Zezelj. How does it fare?
“Once the world’s most famous chef, Gavin Cruikshank’s been in a self-imposed exile for years. His little foodie television program has since evolved into STARVE, an arena sport that pits chef against chef for the pleasure of their super-rich patrons. It’s a stain on a once-noble profession, and Chef Gavin is ready to go to war to stop it. Two things stand in his way: his arch rival Roman Algiers, and his adult daughter Angie, who probably just wants her dad back and acting normal.”
The premise of Starve is so unusual it’s impossible not to be intrigued by it. We’ve seen plenty of dystopian worlds in comics recently, and when it comes to sci-fi as a whole it’s not the first time we have reality TV being a big part of said dystopia. But taking the concept of a cooking show in a world where 99.9% of the population is starving and push it to the limits of exuberance is nothing short of genius.
The book finds a great and charismatic lead in chef Gavin Cruikshank. Gavin is very similar to Transmetropolitan’s Spider Jerusalem, he is broken, fairly toxic to be around, with a skewed sense of morality and justice, and he wishes for nothing else than to be left alone, but when faced with an opportunity to do what he does, he can not turn his back. He hates being where he is in that time and place, and being part of a gruesome reality show, but he absolutely loves it too, being in the spotlight doing what he does best in the world. Unfortunately, I didn’t care much for any of the supporting characters outside of Gavin’s daughter, so I hope they will be fleshed out in the future.
Cooking can be a nasty affair, it involves blood, guts, bones, and in a world like this, also a fair amount of fighting. It’s surprising that in such a dark tale with sometimes very graphic moments, the book still manages to make you hungry and want to try a few recipes for yourself. That might seem unimportant but food IS the real main character of Starve, it’s at the center of everything, and reading the book, it’s obvious Wood has a great appreciation for good food.
One other thing I really appreciated is that although the challenges in the “STARVE” TV show can be horrible or really challenging, they are never set up for Gavin to lose. It’s not a “Whacky Race” where challengers trap each other or cheat their way out. Until one certain character tries to do just that. However, it’s a specific plot point you will have to find out for yourself. I can say it avoided being cliché.
The art by Danijel Zezelj is pretty solid, it will not be for everybody’s taste as it deals a lot with big black strokes and lots of splatters, it may displease or even make the reader uncomfortable, but that’s the idea.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by Starve, which I recommend you read before February so you can be caught up for issue six! It’s everything you would expect it to be, as it works perfectly on the level of dystopia as well as on the subject of food. The art fits the bill perfectly for such a book, so overall the experience of reading Starve is one that should satisfy you on all accounts.
- Very original premise, well executed
- Effective artwork
- Great lead character
- Can be fairly disgusting
- Side characters are a bit lacking