When I reviewed Chew #24, I expected good things, but I was pleasantly surprised by just how good the issue really was. Most of my praise came from the book being a fantastic starting point for new readers, achieved by turning the story to focus on the primary protagonist’s daughter. This story focusing on the burgeoning Cibopathy of Olive Chu, daughters of Anthony Chu, was part four in a five part series, though, making this new issue the final part of the current story arc. As such, I am somewhat disappointed to say that the creators have returned their focus to Anthony. However, I was pleasantly surprised once again to find that this is not actually too bad a thing.
I will warn that new readers to the series, myself included, will most likely find themselves a little confused at the proceedings of this issue. There are a lot of faces here that readers are expected to recognize and, without the proper context, it all seems a bit much. Fortuitously though, everything that really needs explaining gets its due treatment. Writer John Layman really does a terrific job delivering vital exposition without it being noticeably obtrusive. I already know what a Cibopath, those who gain knowledge from what they eat, is, because I read the previous book. When one of the characters explains the concept to a crowd of onlookers though, it feels entirely natural. Similarly, I did not previously know about Tony Chu’s relationship to his boss, Mr. Applebee, but the way it is established in this book seems perfectly organic, as well as entirely amusing. Look forward to Chew #60!
When last we saw Tony Chu, he was bruised and bloodied and being forced to eat a human hand. No one seemed to know what had happened to him. This is the issue in which his girlfriend, Amelia, decides to finally get to the bottom of it. Amelia’s game-changing lead could have easily come across forced and gotten me asking why it took her so long to jump on this search. Instead, we see that she has been on the hunt for a while now and the new lead on Tony’s location appears flawlessly, as far as I can tell. We finally find Tony not only beaten and captured, but being put up for auction so that the highest bidder can take advantage of his Cibopathy. With this being the end of a story arc, I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that Amelia manages to get to Tony and they are able to escape together, but the way the writer and artist get us there is the fun of it.
There is also a sort of B-story that bookends Amelia’s story. It features Tony’s former partner, a cyborg named Agent Colby, and some difficulties he is having with his current boss. This side story provides the book with its first and last page, both of them splash pages. It is worth noting that this pages provide one of the most disturbing comic pages I have seen and, if not one of the coolest comic pages, then at the very least one of the coolest comic pages featuring a chicken.
While I cannot help but be dismayed that the promising Olive story-line is not continued in this issue, there is still a great deal here to like. Amelia is instantly endearing and carries the story well. Chew’s greatest strength is its humor though, both in the art and writing. I really appreciate the gritty-cartoon style of the art. It works as a perfect accompaniment to the writing, as it deals with mature subject matter, without ever taking itself too seriously. All of the characters are uniquely designed with the same expressive faces I remember from Chew #24. There are even some fun details, besides. Keep an eye on the backgrounds for the myriad of silly posters these characters put on their walls.
Chew is quickly becoming a series that I really enjoy. Through no fault of its own, Chew #25 does not measure up to the success of the preceding issue, but that is certainly not a slight against it. The previous book simply told a more compelling and cohesive story. Even so, the humor, universe, and characters that Layman and artist Rob Guillory have put on display here are really something worth taking a look at.