John Leyman and Rob Guillory’s CHEW ended in November 2016 with issue #60. The wild, seven-and-a-half year romp served up plates of delicious action, tasty humour, and satisfying heartfelt moments. Wholly deserving of its awards and honours, from Harveys to Eisners to landing on the New York Times bestsellers list, this Image series should be next on your reading menu.
A year on from its ending, we look back at why you should devour CHEW post haste.
A powered policeman, Tony Chu, works for the FDA, the most powerful law enforcement agency in the country after a huge epidemic has wiped out millions of people around the world. His power? He learns the history and experiences of anything he takes a bite of (except for beets). As nuts as that sounds, the cannibal cop is just the beginning. Add an oversized yet nimble badass, a goofy but loveable partner and an ass-kickin’ chicken and you’ve got just some of the backbone of this bonkers book.
It’s off the wall…
CHEW can be off-the-wall crazy. In a medium where nobody bats an eye at dudes and dudettes dressing up in their underoos and punching the earth back onto course etc., it’s refreshing to read a book that still tosses up some insanity that gets the blood pumping. In 2009, Guillory said he stopped worrying about the book being too crazy. Thank God for that.
…but somehow still grounded
As the shit hits the fan, the venerable Chu is somehow still a tether to humanity. Apart from his sweet cibopathy, he’s not imbued with super strength or speed. Sure, he can dish out a beating and, oh, boy, can he take one (the major battery in the Major League Chew storyline should be evidence enough), but he’s not a giant like Mason Savoy or blessed with partner John Colby’s gifts. Combine that with true-to-life emotion and decision making and you have a character who’s easy to cheer for.
For as much as Guillory does bringing on the surface bringing us each heartbreaking tragedy and momentous triumph, he does just as much for readers through his clever background gags. The humour these bits and pieces bring makes them fun Easter eggs, and the fact they’re even in there helps illustrate just how much fun Guillory had putting this saga together with Layman.
Like many of the best books and TV shows of the past decade-plus, you can tell the CHEW team had a pretty clear roadmap in mind as they made this series. Because of this, they were able to plant seeds at the right times and control the pacing perfectly. All of this adds up to the story they wanted to tell, and, fortunately for us, the one we all wanted to read.
CHEW Creators Rob Guillory (Artist) & John Layman (Author) – Image Credit
Read it if you like:
Army of Darkness/Evil Dead