In my rookie travels through comicdom, I purchased 2 volumes of a series called Chew, written/lettered by John Layman and drawn/colored by Rob Guillory. I read the prologue and Chapter 1 of Volume 1, called “Taster’s Choice”. A recap and review, in a moment.
This is a simple summary of Chew:
It is the strangest comic book I have ever read.
The main character is Tony Chu, a cop for the Philadelphia Police Department. Before we meet Tony, we go to a kitchen, where we see a chef preparing a chicken and vegetable soup. He is chopping vegetables for the soup when he accidentally chops off the end of his index finger. No matter – he just tosses the finger end into the soup, with the vegetables he just chopped. End of the 1-page Prologue.
Back to Tony. He is a man of a slight build. He is described as a “Cibopath” – any time he eats something, he gets all kind of info about that food: from who picked his apple, where he picked it from, and what kind of pesticide was used, to how a cow was killed for the hamburger he might be eating. About the only food that doesn’t give him these visions are beets.
3 guesses as to his main food choice.
Tony has a partner: John Colby, a self described “unhinged, loose cannon cop”. Neither person likes the other, although they seem to have decent chemistry.
Right now, they are leaving a convenient store, going back on the stakeout of someone. It’s not the guy walking by their van with a pound of chicken meat. Illegal chicken meat.
It’s not the guy carrying 20 pounds of illegal poultry. I promise, the meat issue will be explained. By the way, the meat-carrying guy is Tony’s brother. This starts an argument between Tony and John: Tony wants his brother arrested, John is borderline incredulous at Tony. He explains that it’s the brother of Tony that had a public meltdown on national TV:
Tony’s brother is a chef, with a show on the Culinary Network. He is making a psuedo-chicken dish with onions and Bay leaves. As he stirs in a 14-ounce can of Poultrees – “chicken-flavored, naturally” – he hesitates… then explodes in anger at the fact that this dish, and all substitute poultry, tastes like crap. He explains that the poultry ban is a result of the bird flu that may or may not exist and profanity profanity profanity….
(he was fined and removed from TV)
The two partners continued to argue about Tony’s brother until their ‘mark’ by: an underground chicken-meat dealer, who might have killed at least 5 people on the side. Apparently, “Black Market Chicken Meat Dealer” is a more serious crime than “Known Murderer”.
They gear up, ready to take out their target, when a burly guy walks up to them: F.D.A. Agent Mason Savoy. Savoy informs them that their target, a “Deshawn Berry”, is under the protection of the Food and Drug Administration and that they had 2 choices: 1) go back to their boss and see how that goes, or 2) go into the nearby restaurant and enjoy a highly illegal, but tasty, poultry dinner, paid for by the FDA, with the pass word “Wishbone”. They choose #2.
With a warning from John about not blowing their cover by ordering that “free-range organic beet salad or any hippy-dippy BS”, Tony and John give the password and enter the restaurant. John orders basically an entire chicken, a few sides, and a “great big g*d-d**n Coke to wash it all down”. Tony orders chicken soup, to the consternation of John and the waiter.
Their food comes to their table. As Tony takes a bite, he starts having visions; remember – “Chibopath”.
He starts rattling off names of girls and young women, their professions, and… how they were killed. 13 women, all chopped up.
By that restaurant’s sous chef.
The two rush to the kitchen, announce that they’re police (blowing their cover, of course), and announce that they are looking for the sous chef, “Tracy Lee”. They got an answer.
I don’t ever remember seeing someone take a thrown meat cleaver to the face, until now.
Tracy Lee runs out the back door, with Tony in hot pursuit. Tony corners Tracy and demands the names of the rest of his victims, saying that they were all jumbled in his brain. Tracy, rather than talk, threatens to cut his own throat, not unlike the accidental cutting of his finger in the Prologue.
Tracy “wins”: he cut his own throat.
Remember when I described Tony Chu as a “Chibopath”?
Tony, not getting the names from Tracy the easy way, decides to go for “the hard way”:
Back at Police HQ, the Chief of Police commends Tony on getting the names of all 13 victims… but he has some questions, like “How did you get the names?” and “WHY DID OFFICERS FIND YOU AT TRACY LEE’S BODY, WITH HALF OF HIS FACE EATEN AWAY?”. With no rational answer coming from Tony, the Chief reluctantly tells Tony to hand over his badge and gun… although he did say that he would Tony as much as he could when the DEA, FBI, and others come after him. Nevertheless, Tony’s career in Law Enforcement are over.
Not so fast.
Enter Special Agent Savoy.
What a unique story and what a unique ‘power’ for the main character to have! I want to see how far this “Chibopathic” power can go with Tony Chu. I also want to see:
- what happens if/when John recovers from the cleaver attack
- if Tony’s old Chief (who I just noticed in the background of that last picture!) will be a “mentor on the side”, supporting Tony from behind the scenes
I bough Chew a few months ago but just now got around to reading it. So far, it’s been an enjoyable read!