It would have been easy for “Chew” to end up a one-trick pony. A crazy concept for the first issue, and then little follow-through. It’s nice to see, then, that seven issues into “Chew” John Layman and Rob Guillory are still delivering the goods. I think it’s in part because Layman isn’t depending on Tony Chu’s cibopathic powers, where eating something brings psychic impressions into his head. Sure, it’s still part of “Chew” but it’s not solely depending on it.
For instance, the latest issue of “Chew” is more about how the Chu’s division of the FDA interacts with the USDA, the mystery of a strange chicken-tasting fruit on a tropical island, and some rather menacing looking bad guys with large pointy teeth. There’s not a single point that Tony uses his powers in this issue of “Chew” and it actually makes the story that much stronger. I found myself caught up instead on Tony’s celebrity chef brother getting his own restaurant on the island, on the ludicrously-busty USDA agent also assigned to the island, and wondering just what’s going on up in the Arctic Circle. With each new issue, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Layman has a huge amount of detail mapped out for the world of “Chew” and we’re still only getting little bites here and there, with a massive feast still to be discovered.
Guillory is clearly having fun with Layman’s scripts in “Chew” for that matter. There’s a careful balance of subtlety and over-the-top, in-your-face with Guillory’s art, and I think that’s the secret to its success. So for every time you get characters like Lin Sae Woo with breasts the size of her head, you then get scenes like the one in the elevator where everyone moves with energy and grace. It’s a little silly, a little serious, just like Layman’s scripts for “Chew.” I’m not sure I can imagine another artist tackling the scripts for this comic and delivering the goods so perfectly.
If you haven’t read “Chew” yet, Layman and Guillory have already rushed out a collection of the first five issues so that you can start at the beginning. The great thing, though? If you just jumped directly in with #7 you’d still know what was going on and have a good time. It’s well worth a try.