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

The Story: Tony discovers someone with a food-based power he’d never heard of while the chicken prohibition grows slack in light of the “alien fire writing.”

What’s Good: Chew’s easily the funniest book on my pull list and it’s issues like this that cement that.  Like some of the series’ best issues, while the atmosphere of the book is always full of light-heartedness and jokes, there’s that one big gag that’s utterly hilarious and guaranteed to stick with you.  In this case, it’s Tony’s discovery of a new food-based power that ends up being absolutely hilarious on multiple levels.  The “dialogue” is mind bogglingly absurd and the sight gag and grotesque slapstick are guaranteed to stick with you for a very, very long time.  John Layman and Rob Guillory and two very “unique” individuals in their ability to conjure up stuff like this.

Given that this is the first issue of a new arc, much of this comic is devoted to setting up numerous plot elements.  I’m happiest about Layman’s promotion of Toni, who remains an awesome character and as ludicrously upbeat and high energy as ever.  It’s great to see Layman elevate the character to a series mainstay, who looks to have a much bigger role in the future.  We also get a little bit of D-Bear, who has the best line in the comic, one that made me laugh out loud due to just how absurdly and pointlessly asshole-ish it was.

Judging from this issue, the series is going in new and interesting directions, but the real star this month is Rob Guillory, who Layman gives a lot of leg-room to this month.  We get two double page spreads that are gorgeous and absolutely loaded with detail and little easter eggs.  More than that, that sight gag I mentioned would not be anywhere near as good under any other artist’s hand.  Guillory does absurd comedy so very well.

What’s Not So Good: As I said, this issue is mostly set-up.  After this month, I’m still completely uncertain as to where we’re going, though I see numerous possibilities.  Furthermore, the alien sky writing remains as incomprehensible as it was last month.  No real answers are proffered, as this issue is purely about setting the stage.  As such, there’s only so high I can grade it.

Other than that, while the sight gag was funny and the double-page spreads magnificent, they also all took up a large number of pages.  The end result is a very fast read.  It’s not necessarily unsatisfying, but it’s noticeably speedy.

And speaking of that sight gag and that new power type, while it was very funny, I’m not sure what purpose it served as far as the overall story was concerned.  It honestly just seemed like it was there to get a laugh, but in which case, it’s in a weird position.  If it’s meant to serve no overarching purpose, which is how it comes across, perhaps it should’ve gotten the whole issue, so Layman could’ve just let this month be a brief, humorous digression?  Instead, it’s there taking up pages and making me wonder what the point was and that surely there was a way to introduce the new power that would’ve more integrated into the story.  Still, it was funny.

Conclusion: An issue of set-up and gags, but I genuinely laughed more than a couple of times, and that gets any comic a good amount of points from me.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans