Review Chew Volume 1 Taster’s Choice

Written and Lettered by John Layman

Drawn and Coloured by Rob Guillory

Published by Image Comics

Tony Chu is a detective with a secret. A weird secret. Tony Chu is Cibopathic, which means he gets psychic impression from whatever he eats. It also means he’s a hell of a detective, as long as he doesn’t mind nibbling on the corpse of a murder victim to figure out whodunit, and why.

Beware slight spoilers ahead…..

Taster’s Choice collects together the first five issues of Chew, the surprise breakout hit and Eisner award winning comic from Image Comics. Tony Chu is a by the book police officer working for the Philly P.D. but Tony has a deep dark and very, very weird secret. Tony Chu is a Cibopathic which basically means he gets a psychic impression from anything he eats, so if he eats a burger he get’s an impression of how the cow lived and died or if he eats a piece of fruit he knows when and where it was grown.

We first meet Tony on a stake out with his partner John Cobly, they are staking out an illegal black market Chicken restaurant. Now at this point you may well be scratching your head and thinking WTF illegal chicken?  Well in Tony Chu’s world all chicken and other bird meat is banned from human consumption after an outbreak of avian flu killed nearly 23 million Americans so consequently there’s a flourishing under the counter trade in chicken.

Tony and John are stopped from raiding the chicken joint by the bear like FDA agent Mason Savoy who instead invites the two vice detectives to eat at the restaurant, things quickly unravel from this point onwards for Tony and he ends up catching a serial killer using some very unconventional methods.

After being practically forced out of the police department for his highly unusual detection techniques, Tony is co-opted by Mason Savoy to work for the FDA but this is only the start of Tony Chu’s many problems…..  

First things first, Chew is a bit of an unusual comic it has a slightly off centre view of the world, it has a rich deep vein of black humour running throughout and is in parts very funny but can also be thought provoking and complex. There are hints through out the first volume that the American government may be involved in some sort of sinister cover up involving the bird flu deaths, but it’s only teased and drip fed along with other things that hint at a bigger on going story.

The writing by John Layman is sharp and punchy and the individual stories zip along at a good pace and range from a story about a Saboscriviner (a person who in this case writes food reviews so accurately and vividly that the person reading the review can actually taste the food) to a group of astronomers and scientists working in the frozen north somewhere (Gardner-Kvashennaya) who spend about 30 million dollars a year partying who are set upon by a group of bikini clad female assassins working for somebody called The Vampire. There’s also a killer twist at the end but enough about that as I won’t spoil it for you dear reader.

The artwork and colouring on Chew are provided by Rob Guillory who style really suits the story being told and is both fun and disturbing in equal measures.

But be warned this book may not be to everyone’s taste, if you can get over the central premise of the Cibopathic detective who eats the face of a serial killer, a burger with a finger in it and even a putrefying dead dog then you’re in for a good read with plenty of humour and gross out moments. Tony Chu is a great character, the story is great if a little off beat and I’m looking forward to continuing the adventure with volume 2 International Flavor.

GS Rating – 4/5. A great first volume if you’ve got the stomach for it.

GS Reviewer – Nick Roberts @nickroberts101

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