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Chew #27 Second Helping Edition is a very strange comic book release and I am not sure if it is strange in a clever way or strange in a misguided way. The thing is, Chew #27 is sequentially the next issue in the Chew story line and follows directly after the events of Chew #26. But this is not Chew #27. This is Chew #27 Second Helping Edition. Chew #27 came out last year after the release of Chew #18. Despite the disparity between releases, this issue has the same content as its previous release. I just don’t get why.
Of course, this review is going to be based on the content of the book and not the circumstances of the release, but let’s you and I pretend for a second that you are here looking for a recommendation on whether or not to buy this. We are going to solve this mystery flow chart style:
Do you like Chew already or are interested in picking it up? -Yes-> Have you already read Chew #27? -No-> Continue reading.
I realize that was a terrible flow chart. It will never happen again.
So then, back we are again on another biting people adventure with Antonelle “Toni” Chu, Special Agent of NASA. Actually, I got a distinct sense of deja vu with this issue and I am not talking about the fact that it was already released. Honestly, I did not read Chew #27 when it first came out, so this book was mostly new to me. Even so, the way the plot is set up is extremely similar to that of Chew #26. I suppose that means that the previous issue was the one being derivative of the next issue when it came out last time. This is entirely not confusing.
As I was saying, just like last time, Toni finds herself in a hospital as she visits her brother Tony, regularly the main protagonist of the series, who is still in recovery after being kidnaped and tortured. We are treated to a flashback to an earlier time in her life when she worked at a telescope and licked frogs recreationally, and then she leaves so a secondary character can give her a silly mission. She and a partner investigate and succeed in their mission with virtually no difficulties. Obviously, the details are more important than how the plot is structured, but I honestly thought the details were better in the previous issue.
There was just not all that much I found too interesting in this issue. The comradery between Toni and her boss/ex-lover Paneer was not as amusing or personal as when she teamed up with her sleazy brother, Chau. I think the idea of chickens being bred with psychedelic frogs to create the illegal and intoxicating chogs is funny, but they are not used beyond being the funny Macguffin for Toni’s adventure. Had the creatures exhibited some sort of personality or had there been some depiction of preparing them as food, really anything to differentiate them as something more interesting, then this gag would have worked a lot better. My favorite parts were Toni making puppy dog eyes at Paneer and her frog-licking flashback. The former because of how it was drawn and the latter because watching these scientists in the middle of nowhere with a massively inflated budget and only their imaginations to spend it on is legitimately very funny.
Speaking of how the book is drawn, I really do think that Rob Guillory’s art trumps the script in this issue. The visual gags are absolutely the most memorable things here. A single wide panel of Toni’s eyes is just a really striking image to have in the middle of the page. I can’t tell if the eyes actually look cute in this art style, but I know I like that panel a lot. Plus, if it is not already clear, the appearance of the chogs is really the only memorable or interesting thing about them. Since they do not do anything else, how they are drawn is simply the one thing that gives them any identity here. The other part of this book I mentioned liking, the flashback, is also strong in great part due to the art. Whether it’s Toni tripping out or what use she and her colleague’s put their extra funding to, there are a lot of memorable and funny visuals here.
The only other content in this issue is a short comic from the “Hero Comics 2011 Anthology” about Tony dropping acid. Again, especially with this being one long hallucination, the visuals are absolutely the stand out element here. I never thought I would see Nazi gingerbread men beating a guy up with candy canes. However, it is only a short comic and whether or not it will make a difference to those who have already read this book will depend entirely on how much you enjoy Chew.
I really am mystified as to why this issue was released this way. Ignoring the inherent strangeness in releasing the same comic book twice, I just do not think this is one of the best issues. As far as I can tell, it does not have a great deal of impact on the story at large, either. If I had to guess, I would say that the previous release was an experiment and taking this issue out of context, like it was back then, probably makes it a lot more interesting. Of course, it wouldn’t do to force readers to look for back issues to find out the next part of the story, so skipping the Second Helping Edition entirely would not work out. Honestly though, while this issue does have its stand out moments, I think the second release could have been skipped. If you are a fan of Chew and have not already read this, then I would still recommend checking it out, but I certainly would not bother to pick it up twice.