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

The Story: We meet Tony’s dysfunctional family as they gather for a less than legal Thanksgiving dinner.

What’s Good: It’s a cliché, I know, but Layman really puts the “fun” in dysfunction when it comes to Tony’s family.  There’s really no other way to describe it; it’s a mixture of realistic familial animosity and issues with the utterly ridiculous (there’s a really bizarre cross-dresser thrown in their just for good measure).  Then there’s Chow Chu, who’s always a blast to read.

Better still is Tony’s twin sister, Toni, whose endless energy and optimism make for a character that’s impossible to dislike, particularly when paired with Guillory’s always likable facial expressions and poses.  She’s a great addition to the cast, with a bouncy, gleeful, and unflappable personality that’s unique in the comic and certainly works well with the other characters.

Of course, Toni is not the only major character introduced this month.  There’s also a character that is an absolute bombshell of a reveal and is a total game-changer for the series.  The fact that Layman has put off even hinting at this character’s existence until issue fifteen is downright crazy.  It’s a moment that’s sure to catch you off-guard and, most likely, shock you.  The fact that it’s taken this long for the character to show up, and the fact that she was always around, just never spoken of, makes it all the better and all the more impactful.

All told, it’s a fun issue.  Amelia and Tony are as adorable as ever, Tony’s family is both fun and intriguing, and Chow Chu does something truly dastardly and, meanwhile, Tony’s ethical dilemma over the illegal turkey hangs over it all.  It’s an easy read that’s a bit like comfort food.

What’s Not So Good: Unfortunately, comfort food isn’t quite enough when it comes to Chew, particularly an issue as hyped up as this one was.  It’s a nice read, but it doesn’t really go beyond that.  Despite that new character, there’s still this weird feeling throughout that we’re not reading a particularly momentous issue, which is weird given that it’s the last issue of a story-arc.  Part of it is due to how the issue ends, which is based around a phenomenon that’s basically incomprehensible with the info we’re given.  It confuses far more than it tantalizes.  Similarly, while beautifully drawn, the opening pages featuring Mason Savoy don’t quite give us enough to grab onto either, though it’s nowhere near as bad as the issue’s ending.

The other issue is probably the fact that Chu’s family is the best thing going for this issue, and yet I can’t help but feel that Layman didn’t make enough use of them.  Certain really intriguing members like the drooling patriarch and the cross-dresser are never even seen again outside of a single double-page spread.  How can you have one of Tony’s relatives be a flamboyant cross-dresser and proceed not to use him?  Toni is great and all, but the family, with all of its wacky members, was not used enough and there was just so much untapped potential.  I don’t think Layman was able to get the most out of this comic with the number of pages that he had.

Even  Chow and Tony’s mutual hatred isn’t exploited anywhere near enough, especially given Chow’s latest scheme against Tony.  That these two siblings didn’t go to war this month was pretty disappointing.

Conclusion: Too little space means too many missed opportunities.

Grade: C+

-Alex Evans

 



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