CHEW #31

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

The Story: After the death of ______, Tony Chu must get back to the business of fighting food-based crime.

Review (with SPOILERS): Last issue featured a BIG event as Tony Chu’s sister was killed.  It was shocking because she had become such a fun and important character in the series and her death came out of the blue.  Honestly, you don’t really expect a humorous comic series like Chew to show a major character die, much less die so horribly: arms and legs severed and eaten by the killer and her neck snapped.  Ugh. It was really awful and I wondered how Chew would be able to continue to be the bouncy and black-spirited book that I’ve come to love so much.

It turns out that the creators decided to just turn the page.  We get a brief bit about Antonella Chu’s funeral, but then we’re tossed right back into Tony Chu and his partner fighting food-based crime.  It was a smart choice because the previous storyline was getting a little complex.  It wasn’t like a Grant Morrison comic, but there was getting to be a lot to remember from issue to issue.  By putting Tony Chu back “on the case”, the creators are returning to what made Chew great in the first place.

And what a nifty case it is.  Some nefarious group has made an energy drink that causes fat people to self-combust!  The thing I love about Chew is how it doesn’t shy away from picking on groups like fat people or ugly people or sweaty people.  You know how most published material is: The creators go out of their way to not exploit any easy targets because doing so is “mean”.  You know what?  I kinda like mean-spirited humor and that’s why I like Chew: They aren’t afraid to poke fun at the fatties.  It isn’t over the top or anything excessive, but teasing people who are different from the norm is kinda fun and it’s nice to see a comic that publicly embraces that.

As always, Rob Guillory is spot on with the art.  He’s a wonderful cartoonist and his style allows him to oversell the (sometimes) silly action in Chew.  But what really steals the show are the sight gags in almost every panel.  My favorite panel in the issue shows a fat comic book fan combusting at a comic book convention.  The panel could’ve stopped with the simple fact that fat comic fans are burning up (LOL!), but Guillory tosses in the following sight-gags:  First, there is a sign hanging from the ceiling that says, “Like Diarrhea? Convention nachos!”.  Second, there is an ugly female cosplayer with nothing but tape over her nipples….she has a cigarette dangling from her lip and a tattoo on her chest that says, “Classy”.  Third, the burning fat comic fan is clutching a shopping bag that says, “Free Con Bag’o’Stuff You Will Throw Away”.  Fourth, is a sign encouraging fans to buy the “Beef Jerky Cover!  You Don’t Need It!!!”  And….on top of that there is a kinda-funny sign for the “Lowly Comic Creators (Do not feed)” and some kinda gag going on in the background with a guy holding a Morning Glories comic that I didn’t quite understand.  That’s 6 sight gags in a single panel, and most of them are legitimately funny.  I probably show my friends and family more random panels from Chew than any other comic I read, “Oh… HAVE to see this…..”

Conclusion: One of the best ongoing comics being published turns away from the darkness for a fun and black-humored new storyline.

Grade: A-

– Dean Stell