Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book-A-Day 2014 #267: Chew, Vol. 2 by Layman & Guillory

I've decided what Chew reminds me of -- and I'm sure you'll all be relieved to hear that. The parallels aren't exact, but Chew is a lot like that oddball, not-exactly-satirical late '80s comic The Trouble With Girls. Both take a breezy, iconoclastic approach to Big Issues of the day -- for both, international intrigue and mayhem; adding in sexism and the Cold War for Trouble and the war on terror and similar modern freak-outs for Chew -- rely on a smartass tone to tie everything together and revel in grotesquerie and a cast made up of twisted caricatures and nutty ideas.

(And this particular book has a sexist interlude equal to anything in Girls -- where it was both very common and very, very deliberate -- as a woman is carefully established as both a super-badass and a walking jiggle factory only to be fridged a few pages later.)

The second volume of Chew, International Flavor, is more Girls-ian than the first one, since our hero, cibopathic [1] FDA agent Tony Chu, is supposedly on vacation on a small tropical island where a strange fruit has recently appeared: one that tastes exactly like chicken, the food outlawed after a horrendous outbreak of bird flu. Chu, sadly, is not as omnicompetent as Lester Girls was; Chu is a more traditional hero of a wacky adventure story: a bit short, more than a bit put-upon, in way over his depth but moving forward at full speed. There is more danger and even stranger elements in this volume than the first, including a character who is definitely not a vampire but who also gets power from very vampiric activities.

Writer John Layman seems bent on twisting every element of Tony Chu's fictional world around food, and I applaud that: a book like Chew needs to be bigger than life, full of oddities, and utterly true to its gestalt -- its word needs to revolve around food. And artist Rob Guillory is still drawing his wonderfully lumpy, misshapen characters -- even his hot babes have hatchet faces or too-small mouths -- cavorting through gleefully bizarre situations. Chew is a wacky, bizarre comic set in a very peculiar world, populated by nutbars and goofballs and even more quirkly edible types: despite what I may have said above, it's not like anything else out now, and it should be cherished and celebrated for that.

[1] He gets psychic impressions from eating things. Anything, every time. Only beets have no effect.

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

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