Writer: John Layman
Art: Rob Guillory
Tony Chu is what is known as a Cibopath, a person with a very rare ability that enables him to read or see the memories or situations which something that he eats went through. For example, he could eat a grape, and know in which vineyard it grew, when it was harvested, and how many people handled it from when it was picked to when he tasted it. Or he might eat a steak, and get glimpses of the terrible conditions in which the cattle lived, and the even more horrific way in which they were slaughtered. And from as little as a drop of human blood, Tony Chu could suddenly know one of your darkest secrets, or with a bit more than that, perhaps even know all of them.
Unfortunately this talent also makes eating somewhat of a nightmare for Tony. When anything he eats can set off a chain of gruesome or nauseating visions of how the food was treated or prepared or what vile acts were done in its location, his appetite tends to disappear rather quickly. Luckily for Tony, there is one thing he can eat which strangely does not give him any of these psychic impressions at all: Beets.
As a detective, Tony is no stranger to investigative work and the intricate process of collecting facts and evidence which his job requires in making arrests. So when his unique talent allows him to know things that nobody should be able to, like the code for a locked vault, or where the bodies of a serial killer’s victims are located, that knowledge brings with it a lot more questions from his superiors, who just don’t and can’t understand. When Tony does inadvertently uncover the identity of a serial killer, who accidentally cuts himself while preparing a soup, and bleeds a little into the broth, it leads Tony to the arrest of his career, but with it a host of questions which he can’t really answer about how he knew the things he knew about the killer and his victims. And it doesn’t help that the first officers on the scene found Tony biting the face off the killer in his ravenous pursuit of the truth.
Just as Tony fears all hope is lost with internal affairs believing he may have been in league with the killer, an agent from the F.D.A. (Food and Drug Administration) arrives at the station and tells him that he now works for them, and their jurisdiction overrides the internal investigation revolving around his arrest of the serial killer. Chu’s relief is soon changed to anxiety however, when he realizes that the F.D.A. know all about his special talents, and that they plan to use those talents for their own purposes; by having him eat decomposing fingers and dead animals, virtually any clue can be uncovered.
Chew is one of the most engaging stories that I’ve read before, and is definitely amongst the flagship titles for Image Comics, known for their more alternative, mature, and intellectual comic books. What’s also great with the Chew series (a total of 60 issues which were collected in 12 graphic novels), is that it starts off completely enthralling from the start, and it just picks up momentum and gets even more exciting and elaborate as the story unfolds, unlike many other great series which usually take a few issues to set the stage. I don’t know how many times I’ve started reading a new series and found myself unimpressed with the first few issues (or the first graphic novel), only to be told by someone that it starts off slow but gets much better from the second book. Well Chew doesn’t subscribe to that method of storytelling, and the first book is a marvellous read, and yes, it does somehow manage to get even better as the plot is boiled, stirred, and thickens.
Boardgame and graphic novel enthusiast. Marvel or DC? Image. Old-school gamer. Avid role-player. Kermit for president. I believe that werewolves will rule the world one day.
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