Originally published in September 16, 2013.
Image Comics. Written by John Layman. Art by Rob Guillory. Collects issues #0-5.
I’ve heard of CHEW from friends and have been meaning to get into it for a while until my 4th year Criminology seminar pushed me to devour the first trade a week ago. Written/lettered by John Layman and drawn/coloured by Rob Guillory, CHEW is about Tony Chu, a Chinese-American cop who also happens to be a Cibopath. A Cibopath is someone who can find out everything about the thing (or person) they bite (there are only 3 in the world). This makes it difficult to eat normal foods for Tony since he would get a glimpse of the pesticides used on an apple or the cruel deaths of the animals in the hamburger he’s eating. The only thing he doesn’t get a read on is beets which he eats a lot of.
Due to circumstances in the first issue, Tony becomes an agent of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) which is a powerful police agency in this world thanks to the bird flu that killed millions of people. This also means chicken is outlawed and thus making it one of main things that the FDA investigates: black market chicken and other food related crimes. This is where being a Cibopath becomes an important asset.
John Layman knows how to create a compelling story by having each issue have it’s own self contained case/story while also having an overarching/ongoing case very much like a cop procedural television show but the difference is that in the comic book medium there’s a lot more room for experimentation. Rob Guillory’s art is amazing especially in the way he proportions the bodies and really exaggerates them in a way that gets them to pop off the page.
Overall, this trade was awesome and left me wanting to read more. The concept is inventive, the writing is spot on and the art caters to it so well that I wouldn’t be able to imagine anyone but Guillory drawing it. My favourite thing about this 5 issue trade is the relationship between Tony and his brother, Chow, who I hope to see more of. I’m definitely giving this five raging Chows.
5 out of 5