Last year, “Chew” #27 was released between “Chew” #18 and #19. Both “Chew” #27 and #19 focused on Tony’s twin sister Toni Chu, and the jump into the future was a fun and creative, if gimmicky, way to spotlight her Cibovoyant power of seeing into the future of anything she eats. More than a year later, after intervening regularly numbered issues and a “Chew: Secret Agent Poyo” one-shot, it’s finally the right time for “Chew” #28 and another plate of “Space Cakes” served up by regular “Chew” chefs John Layman and Rob Guillory.
Layman opens the issue with a meat-induced disaster during Milan Fashion Week, which ends with a meaty cliffhanger in a cow pasture. The arc of the issue unrolls between these two attention-grabbing points smoothly, punctuated by intersections of the main cast. Toni is introduced to Poyo and proceeds to treat him as if he was John Colby’s rooster-shaped baby. Not only is their meeting one of the best things about this issue, it serves an important role in the action, allowing both Colby and Caesar Valenzano to make a sneaky move behind her back.
Layman doesn’t do much Chew-verse expansion in “Chew” #28, instead focusing on a smaller subset of the cast, their abilities and personalities. Toni continues to be endearingly cheerful and Valenzano and Colby are good foils for each other in their ad hoc team-up.
His dialogue flows nicely through the action, liberally bolded here and there to convey verbal emphasis. As usual, artist Rob Guillory’s comic imagination gets a workout, especially during the panels in which Tony is pumped full of “happy juice” and hallucinates everyone around him (except for Poyo, ironically) as animals. Layman’s crazed script has other challenges, too. “Fish Stick Zoot Suit,” flying body parts, stray smokes and croissants in a scene of Poyo-induced carnage — Guillory can draw it all no problem with excellent pacing and characterization to boot. His facial expressions and body language make dialogue almost superfluous when Colby acts nervous and guilty, or when Tony suddenly sits up angrily in response to a slight.
Speaking of Poyo, the bionic rooster has a lot of personality and mood in his posture, beak and eye, and that’s impressive work on Guillory’s part, since Poyo never says more than the occasional “cluck” or “bok!” Also, Guillory’s backgrounds always have comic detail, like his illustration on a “No Tipping of the Cows” sign or Tony’s fuzzy slippers as he’s wheeled around. Just the way that Colby gently carries Poyo around tucked under one arm is a delightful, purely visual barrel of giggles.
“Chew” #28 feels like a transition between larger plot points in the “Space Cakes” arc, with a balance of action and quieter conversational scenes. It’s a midpoint of connective tissue rather than significant muscle, but Layman and Guillory fill it with enough ridiculousness and character interaction to whet your appetite for more “Chew” as it resumes a regular monthly timeline.