Chew Volume 1: Taster’s Choice
Story: John Layman
Art: Rob Guillory
With all the recent shenanigans at DC, I was mad and stuff. So I’m all, “I’m gonna read more indie books!” Chew was on my list of alternative books, and one of the guys in the GP (my Geek Posse) happened to pick up the first trade up at lunch — just as I was heading to lunch. SCORE!
Tony Chu is a cibopath, someone who receives psychic impressions from what they eat. He can see the apple being sprayed with pesticides or the cow hanging in the slaughterhouse. The only thing that doesn’t give him a vision is the beet (Click here for the significance of beets in other fiction). After an abrupt departure from the Philly PD following a botched chicken investigation and cannibalistic moment, Tony now works for the FDA. An alleged bird-flu pandemic has caused a ban on chicken, so the FDA pretty much runs shit in America. Since I’m an organic foodie with a penchant for conspiracy theories, that plot detail equals awesome.
Tony is a by-the-book kind of guy who’s chock-full of integrity, or stubbornness, depending on how you look at it. His first day on the job, he gets the hard-ass of the century for a boss and a huge caseload. Case No. 1 begins with (You might want to stop eating) a partially decomposed finger for lunch. Add several mob guys, Tony’s poultry-loving brother, a supernaturally talented reporter chick, and you got some Hollywood-style federal agent investigation work. The story becomes quite X-Files when Tony and his partner, fellow cibopath Mason Savoy, land in middle-of-nowhere Russia. The two wind up in a shoot-out at an observatory that houses an uber-telescope with its eye on a particular planet. What’s the Russian word for Vampire? “Upyr.” Huh? Exactly.
Good thing I wasn’t all that hungry, because Chew prompted me to skip the meal portion of my lunch hour. This book was pretty gross. I am not a big fan of gore or otherwise gratuitous bodily fluids. I’m not going to play naive; I knew the premise of the book, and it screamed high yuck factor. FYI, Chew gives a vivid glimpse of serial-killer chicken soup, a splash page of spewing green vomit and a dead dog for dinner. All in a day’s work for Tony Chu.
In another life, I think the artist and writer on this book were of the same soul. The art could not be more perfect for the story. Even the gross shit was well drawn.
So, I’m dying to know what happens next in the series. That means I liked it. No spandex, and some definite damn-that’s-nasty moments — but something big is brewing. I think it’s gonna be good. Give it a whirl.