Chew, vol. 6

Chew 6Summary: While Tony Chu – the cibopathic federal agent with the ability to get psychic impressions from what he eats – clings to life in a hospital ICU, his twin sister Toni steps up to take center stage. Toni is cibovoyant, able to see the future of anything she eats, and, lately, she’s seeing some pretty terrible things. Presenting a new storyline of the New York Times Bestselling, Harvey and multiple Eisner Award-winning series about cops, crooks, cooks, cannibals, and clairvoyants. Collects issues #26-30, plus the blockbuster spin-off one-shot that stole America’s heart, Chew: Secret Agent Poyo.

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Chew, vol. 6, by John Layman and Rob Guillory 7.5

Well, there goes another “coaster”.

While I love the world of ‘Chew’ that Layman and Guillory have created, I do find that they coast a lot. Sure, the series is episodic, and that means that some parts have little meaning in the grand scheme of things, but I wish that they didn’t get so distracted sometimes.

Case-in-point, Volume 6 of ‘Chew’ – otherwise known as “Space Cakes”.

By the end of “Major League Chew“, the last installment in the Eisner Award-winning series, Chu was left debilitated, comatose from severe beatings that he took at the hands of his kidnappers. Much of that book revolved around his colleagues and friends’ attempts at saving him.

Now, on life support in a hospital, he becomes sidelined for the duration of the book. Frankly, I appreciate the fact that Layman and Guillory decided not to make him more superhuman than he already is – main characters often bounce back quickly from a lot of trauma.

The problem is that, without Chu as a central force, the other characters don’t fit together so snuggly. Personality-wise, they do. However, since they all work in different agencies, with different aims, and entirely different caseloads, it doesn’t mesh particularly well.

And that’s why we end up following Toni, Chu’s twin sister. She works for NASA, but, coincidentally, it is suddenly the most powerful government agency in the US, if not the world – just in time for her adventures. Nothing can stop her from getting to the bottom of her cases.

Except that most of what takes place borders on the mundane. Oh, sure, it’s all wacky stuff (everything about ‘Chew’ is wacky!), but it’s so very superficial, bringing very little to the table: a backstory between Toni and Caesar, Toni’s prolific love life, two new food-related powers and… a dramatic finish.

Otherwise it serves up more of the same, plus a special issue of Poyo, the psychotic cybernetic, super-powered rooster. Evidently, this consists of 22 pages of mayhem and carnage. But what did you expect with a comic book about a rampaging fowl? Fluffy and cuddly? Not a chance!

It’s all very amusing but it detracts from the main plot points, which is slightly annoying and, to me (at least), disappointing. I would still like to know more about the vampire (or at least come closer to catching him) and find out what the writing in the sky is all about. At least that.

The most entertaining parts of the scripts remain the weird food-related powers and the crimes that Layman comes up with. Where the hell does he come up with stuff like that? He is a madman genius! Oh sure, he tends to reheat a lot of his ideas, but they remain flavourful even this far into the series.

But the best part of all is Rob Guillory’s loony toons. I mean, seriously, this guy’s awesome. Granted, he plays it a bit loose, but he also does every single frame by hand – there’s no photoshopping or trickery. Plus which he throws in the nuttiest little details in many of his pages. Scrutinize and see.

Despite my desire for more substance, the fact remains that ‘Chew’ is a very entertaining book. People not so attached to plot, but into zaniness, will no doubt relish every bite – especially cibopaths. I’m not surprised that this pair have won awards, because their taste is fresh, and fresh is the taste.

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