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On The End Of Chew

Chew has finally ended after around half a decade in print. Spanning 60 issues, one crossover, and three standalone specials, the cult favorite detective comic from writer John Layman and Rob Guillory was laid to rest, rather fortuitously, the day before Thanksgiving. For those who haven’t heard about the series before, it follows the adventures of an F.D.A. Agent named Tony Chu as he solves increasingly insane food-related crimes and mysteries, all the while aided by the power to see the personal history of anything he eats.

 

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Also for those who haven’t heard of the series before, be warned that everything following will be a spoiler. Starting from this next sentence – the ending of Chew is perhaps the most fitting ending that the series could have hoped to have. From the start of the series there has always been one constant – Tony Chu has drive. His first big action in the series is to stop a serial killer, which he does, without any regard to stuff that might have made another officer stutter. Tony ran this suspect down, and when all seemed lost, he ate the majority of their face. When faced with a goal, with something that he feels an intense need to strive for, nothing will stop Tony Chu.

It might have been a somewhat weirdly toned ending, going from something incredibly emotional, with the deaths of many of the secondary cast – to something that focuses on a lighter “next generation”, but that works in its favor. Tony Chu was forced by powers beyond his understanding to commit mass murder, that’s not something that can end on anything resembling a happy note. It’s not something that can be bittersweet, in that it might have been worth it so that the world could live another day. Some might agree, but Tony Chu is a stickler. Even in flashbacks to childhood Tony is not a free-spirited young boy, he’s uptight. Much like Harmonica from Once Upon A Time In The West, there is nothing but bitterness left.

 

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So, the world has changed and been catapulted decades into the future due to alien technology. Powered individuals are more accepted in society. Even Tony’s daughter has found an acclaimed career in food-related law enforcement. It’s just not enough, it just doesn’t make up for it, and it doesn’t lead Tony anywhere close to forgiving. That’s not to say that Tony is blinded to the benefits, he’s not, because if he was then the he wouldn’t have had to nibble on himself a bit at the start of the issue. Without forcing himself to relive the pain, heartbreak, and madness that he had to suffer through he probably would haven’t had been so motivated.

This is probably perfectly counterbalanced by the parallel storyline following a previous alien civilization that underwent the same cataclysmic experience. The “Alien-Chu” died with his planet, rather than the world make the horrific decision that Earth would later make. Tony taking his revenge, publicly and maliciously, would no doubt set tensions and animosity back to “let’s try to blow up the world” levels. Maybe that’s how it should be. Maybe the trade-off, for the days that it bought everyone, wasn’t worth the cost? It’s very easy to believe that the Earth was destroyed moments later.

 

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In a future where a genocidal, murdering, priestess is a world leader, where food powers have created the ultimate criminal, and where we accept global blackmail – maybe it is for the best. At the very least, it was all too satisfying just to have one of the aliens get stabbed as the comic closed its final pages. John Layman and Rob Guillory mention in the end notes that this was the ending that was always planned for Chew, and so I have to say it was one that they landed. Chu, however belatedly, was finally able to stick to his code of ethics, and the world (possible destruction notwithstanding) got to grow up a little bit longer. It’s not a happy ending, but then again, Chu wasn’t a happy protagonist for most of it – he was dour, focused, and bitter. It’s the only ending that could have made sense.

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