“Chew/Revival” is a fun, if unlikely crossover between two ongoing series. The one-shot consists of two separate stories, each with a complete arc in themselves. The usual creative teams handle their respective sides. In both stories, Tony Chu visits Rothschild, Wisconsin.
Crossovers are at their best when they make the most of encounters that would not occur otherwise, and “Chew/Revival” does just that. Guillory and Norton are both confident artists with recognizable linework, so it’s the same kind of pleasure to see Guillory’s version of Dana, or Norton’s version of Tony Chu, especially since their styles are so different. Norton’s art is more naturalistic and less manic than Guillory’s, and so it’s a shock to see Tony’s receding hairline. Likewise, it’s also weird, but pleasurably weird, to see Dana’s beanie hat and freckles rendered by Guillory’s hand.
The mashup between the Chewverse and rural Wisconsin goes much more smoothly than anyone might have a right to expect. Extended information dumps are neatly avoided. Since Tony and Dana are both police, they are conveniently briefed on all the explaining of food powers and walking dead people phenomena that might bog down an initial face-to-face meeting. No characters waste much time questioning the reality of the situation they are in.
Furthermore, since one series is rural gothic horror and the other is food humor mixed with science fiction, it might seem that “Revival” and “Chew” seem to have practically nothing in common, but they do. The plot in each series is partially driven by the supernatural and by detective work and family is one of the core themes.
The “Chew” half feels like just another bizarre adventure-of-the-week for Tony and Colby, and does not play into the overarching arc of the ongoing series in which Tony is getting closer to a confrontation with The Vampire. These quick missions work to expand the ever-widening Chewverse, reinforce the episodic feel of Tony’s FDA work, and provide quick laughs. They have a familiar progression: pre-mission briefing, entry into the site of action, some shenanigans and violence, use of food powers and then a wrap-up. The story in “Chew/Revival” follows this outline, but is lengthened by a change in setting from the mortuary to Dagmar’s Best Bites in order to allow Em to get involved.
Dana even gets her own “Meet” spotlight panel just like all of the new characters in “Chew.” The plot involving a revived woman, Agnes, manages to be funny and charming as well as alarming. As usual, Guillory is a master of background details, and the throwdown between Agnes and Colby is a highlight, as well as police interrogation notes in the concluding scene.
On the “Revival” side, Seeley and Norton begin with a macabre dance hall scene, and then immediately cut to Cooper cartooning. This page is a delight. The crayon cartoon at the top calls out two of the most beloved supporting characters in current comic. Even better, it’s a matchup: Lying Cat from “Saga” vs. Poyo from “Chew”! In the next panel, Seeley and Norton take a meta-dig at their own participation in “Chew/Revival,” where Dana asks, “”How’s that crossover supposed to work?” Cooper’s reply is “It’s fun and it’s cool, so that’s all that matters. It’s what comics are for. Duh.” Wise words from the mouths of babes.
The rest feels like a classic ghost story. The dead are unwilling to let go of life, an exorcism of a kind ensures and grief permeates the concluding scenes. The teamwork between Dana, Ibraham and Tony works well. Seeley’s words on the last page are haunting. While Tony’s pain is mixed with laughs in “Chew,” in gothic Wisconsin, his grief acquires a new dimension.
“Chew/Revival” delivers on both ends. Fans of both series will enjoy seeing a little bit of each universe seeps into the other one. For fans that only picked this up for one-half of the comic, both stories are well-executed enough that both series may get a few new fans.