I’d heard good things about “Chew" but, honestly, the concept didn’t strike me as one with legs. A detective that eats things to learn their histories? “That’s a good one-off idea,” I thought, “but not one that can sustain an ongoing series.” So, when the chance to review the first issue in the book’s second story (aka the one where the concept falls flat after the novelty is gone) came up, I jumped at it if only to prove to myself that I am, like always, right in all things.
Reading the opening scene where FDA agent Tony Chu is partnered with his old cop partner/new rookie FDA agent John Colby who blames Chu for the accident that left him a disfigured cyborg, things weren’t looking great. And then, John Layman and Rob Guillory throw a curveball by revealing it was all an act so the two would be partners and we’re off and running with these two wonderful characters that play off of one another amazingly well. It’s the classic odd couple routine with one uptight guy and another looser one, but there’s a reason this dynamic is classic, and Chu and Colby prove it.
The case they’re sent on is an attempt to mess with Chu as the evidence he’s to eat in order to gain a psychic impression is a pile of... er, feces that one of the suspects in a bank robbery left on the vault’s floor. Guillory’s depiction not just of the evidence but of Chu and Colby’s reactions is priceless, spot-on perfect as Chu is both revolted and adamant in his desire not to eat it, while Colby reacts with a confused bewilderment before solving the problem in a funny, direct manner.
As the two work on the case, their differences are played up well as Colby shows himself to be reckless bordering on insane, but also plays the straight man when it comes to some of his new cyborg-assisted abilities. So much of comedy is in the timing, which Layman and Guillory use to great effect here, delivering pauses and breaks in the conversation at just the right moments. Guillory’s art does more than its fair share of the work, exaggerating every emotion and scene for laughs. The concept and characters are weird and out there, and it’s great to see that the creators know this and embrace it. The more they pile on, the funnier it gets.
So, in summation, I was wrong. “Chew” #6 is a very good, very funny comic book, and I am a very stupid man sometimes. But, I’m also glad I was wrong in this case, because it means that “Chew” is a comic worth reading, one that I plan to read monthly now, and that’s a pretty great thing. If, like me, you avoided this book for whatever reason, go buy this issue and join me in hopping on the “Chew” bandwagon... better late than never, right?