by John Layman (writer & letters) and Rob Guillory (art & colors)

The Story: Tony discovers the truth behind Montero Industries and Poultplus, their new chicken substitute that everyone is talking about.

What’s Good: It’s rare these days for an artist to get big laughs out of me more or less solely on the merits of his own talents, but that’s exactly what Rob Guillory does this month.  Guillory is quite possibly the most humorous artist in comics today and it’s a good part of what makes his work on Chew so strong.  Everything he does glows with innate comedy, which gives everything that much more life.

This month, Guillory gets us with a number of sight gags.  Obviously, the facial expressions are as good as ever, but I particularly enjoyed other jokes as well, like the inexplicably hostile sports writer in Amelia’s office.  Then there’s the secret behind why Montero’s Poultfree tastes as good as it does.  I won’t spoil it, but Guillory’s art makes the reveal truly laugh out loud funny.  It’s easily the most hilarious artistic concept I’ve seen this month.

Layman’s script is also as good as ever, delivering what makes Chew strong month in and month out.  Tony and Colby’s relationship, for example, is always a treat to watch.  Behind all of his snarkiness, there’s a clear bond between John and Tony and whether either will admit it, Layman makes it clear that the two do like each other.  The dialogue only gets more interesting this month when Colby visits Amelia’s workplace along with Tony; the entry of Amelia into the partners’ unique relationship makes for a fresh twist to an already to fun relationship.  You can imagine the jabs Colby can gleefully dish out at this sort of thing.

Then there’s Applebee, who’s as much of a treat as ever, even if he’s getting weirder by the month.  The ridiculous double-standard he shows this month between Tony and John is really funny and I do like the fact that Layman is slowly going back Applebee giving Tony hell.  I loved awkward Applebee, but I missed the hatred.  Seeing him treat John so much better only makes it even more enjoyable to watch.

All told, this is a really fun issue.  There’s a new addition to the FDA, there’s some awesome, almost ninja-esque action, and that reveal about Poultfree, well, I don’t think I’ll ever get over that.  The latter is also preceded by one of those little montages that Layman does so well, including a couple of really great cameos.

What’s Not So Good: As fun as this issue was, there’s no escaping the fact that as far as the overall story goes, we ended up in exactly the same place we ended last month.  Even some of the dialogue is repeated.  The FDA are still camped outside of that building, with Savoy cornered.  This issue thus serves to illuminate the circumstances surrounding what Savoy, and hence the world of Chew, has been up to, rather than actually progressing.

Conclusion: This issue of Chew is “fricken” good.  Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

Grade: A-

Alex Evans