Space Cakes: Part 1 of 1! I cannot even tell if this is a joke or not. Perhaps when you see these words on your copy of Chew #26, you will have a better idea than I of just what is going on with this odd cover description. That is, if you decide to pick up Chew #26. Have you decided yet? You might want to read a review first.
Main character, Tony Chu, a man who gains knowledge from whatever and whoever he eats, is still out of commission in a hospital, after the events of his recent abduction. With Tony’s non-presence, recent issues of this series have featured different leads. Two issues ago it was his dauther, Olive, a girl with an even more advanced power than her father’s. Last time it was his girlfriend, Amelia, who can write about food so well that readers actually get the sensation of taste. This time, it’s his sister, Toni, who takes center stage. Toni has the extremely specific ability to see the immediate future of any living thing that she eats. This means that what she eats has to be alive when she eats it or nothing happens. How does this extraordinary ability come into play in this issue? It really doesn’t!
Instead, Toni is this time utilized for her authority as an agent of NASA. Apparently, since mysterious alien writing appeared in the sky, NASA has been granted more power and authority than any other government agency. How does that work, you ask? Science! Science and politics. Stop asking such dumb questions. Anyway, obviously, Toni is going to use her government-sponsored doing-whatever-the-hell-she-wants abilities to bust into a guy’s house and lick his paintings. What else could a government agent with super powers possibly do?
You see, Toni’s other brother, Chow Chu, a guy who has the special power of being simultaneously a chef and a big jerk, spent the prologue of this story getting the finger from some other chef who won a painting at an auction. Convinced that his rival is up to no good, he enlists the help of his sister to investigate. If you are familiar with Chew, then you can probably guess that this plot line does not really go anywhere, but you can probably also guess that it will be funny along the way.
That is the thing about this issue of the series: It does not really move the plot along in any substantial way. I did not learn anything new about these characters and I do not think they learned anything new about themselves. The story being told here is not especially interesting. However, it is all very funny. There are several little scenes and locales that do not have anything to do with the main story of the two siblings and the chef with the paintings, but they are all well done and funny themselves. At one point, Toni is in the hospital checking on her brother, speaking with his girlfriend, and it is all very subdued and the concern for Tony is clear. But they are in “Our Lady of the Broken Femur Hospital” and Tony is hooked up to an IV drip of “What got MJ XXX.” Honestly, the hospital scene may be my favorite part of this book, just for all of the subtleties in the back and foreground that are entirely independent of the characters.
Another amusing curiosity are the paintings I mentioned. Instead of being drawn in the same art style as the rest of the comic, the paintings are actually photographs of actual food. It creates a strange, but intriguing, effect to see all of these photos amidst this very cartoonish art style. Especially when stylized cartoon tongues are being run up and down them. In the context of the book, the paintings are created by a man with the ability to paint food so well, that one can actually taste what is depicted. If that sounds funny to you, then you are getting the point of this comic.
All in all, this is another great issue of Chew. I can’t give it a resounding recommendation, due to the actual story not being all that interesting though. If you do not appreciate the humor or Rob Guillory’s fantastic stylized art, then there is simply not much here for you. Personally, I greatly enjoy both of these qualities. The Toni character is fun and full of energy, even when she is biting chunks out of people. Her curmudgeonly brother, Chow, acts as a great foil for her and I can very well see these two working well as a comedic pair in the future. If you like a comic that’s not afraid to laugh at itself and then laugh at everything else and then just kind of chuckle in the corner for a while, then check this one out.