Your Alternative Comics Beat For May 27th, 2013: Chew
A Tasty Choice
I’m always looking for new comic book series to read. I have a steady stream of flow from companies like Marvel, DC, Vertigo, Dark Horse, and especially Image. I try to keep up on as many books as I can, but there’s no time to read everything that comes out. I could try, but I’m afraid that my head would blow up like the guy in Scanners (also a slight Wayne’s World reference there). But I’m very happy to say that I stumbled upon yet another series that has slipped through the cracks of my reading pile for far too long.
There are certain types of stories that you’ve always wanted, but that you never knew existed. This week’s Alternative Comics Beat is one of those kinds of stories. Try to imagine a universe where chicken is illegal, people have food-based superpowers, and a rooster is the most powerful and deadly fighter in the universe. John Layman imagined it, and with the help of artist Rob Guillory he’s brought it to the shelves of comic book stores everywhere. The two of them have created a series so fun, violent, and mesmerizing, that I read six trades in just a few days.
I’d like to introduce you to Special Agent Tony Chu of the FDA.
Tony Chu is a cibopath. That means that Chu can eat anything and know its entire history. He can eat an apple and see how it was grown in the orchard, or eat a hamburger and experience how the cow met its untimely demise in the slaughterhouse. Sadly this new ability is put to the test in much grosser forms when Chu joins the FDA, which is one of the most powerful law organizations in the world. With his powerful ability he’ll have to solve the strangest criminal cases in the world, and the world needs Chu more than he thinks.
The premise alone for this series is enough to make people’s heads turn. But Layman drew me in with characters that I really care about and a storytelling style that fluctuates between a Saturday morning cartoon and a TV drama. Chu and his family grow on readers faster than fruits from another planet. When characters in the series are killed or injured (I won’t say who or what), I felt the deaths and wished that they had made it for a few more issues. But that’s really the sign of something worthwhile. I might feel sad that the character is gone, but the fact that I felt something is what’s really important.
Stylish and Slick
Guillory’s artwork is the perfect companion to this unique story. His style lends itself to emotion, fantastical events, and very gory moments. If you can make a Rooster fighting legions of villains a dynamic storytelling event, then you deserve lots of credit. Every issue builds on the one before it and the cartooning of animals, people, and places is really spectacular. I can’t say enough good things about his style, so I encourage anyone reading this to check out his work in the pages of Chew or on his website (http://robguillory.blogspot.com/).
A Wonderful Alternative
This series is just about as far as you can get from the normal things in your pull box. It’s been going on for a while, but the trades are available at any bookseller. You might find yourself doing what I did, and binge reading the entire series up to the latest issue. I would compare to other series that I’ve read, but I really can’t provide anything that’s even close. If you do like references to other science fiction series, stories that can take any kind of turn, and the idea of a world with chicken speakeasies, then you really need to give Chew a try.
Ken Porter also writes comic books with his latest being "Ink Ribbon" from Visionary Comics. Ken was also the winner of this year's Top Cow Talent Search contest.