Ah, Thanksgiving. That time of year in the United States when people go to their family homes and we all discover that all those petty resentments that we’ve built up over the past 20 to 60 years toward one another really haven’t gone away at all. Of course, in the world of “Chew,” Thanksgiving is a slightly different holiday than most, thanks to the avian flu that makes turkey (among other birds) illegal. And that’s why “Chew” #15 is the perfect way to wrap up the first quarter of John Layman and Rob Guillory’s quirky series.
Instead of continuing the hunt for the missing Savoy, we get a nice break from the main action to deal with Tony Chu and his relationship with his girlfriend Amelia, his fellow agent and partner John, and of course the rest of his large family. We get a lot more information about Tony himself, as well as an ominous opening and closing for the issue that promises a lot of strangeness and danger ahead as well.
What’s great about “Chew” is that Layman has able to come up with numerous twists, turns, and ideas throughout the series that have kept it fresh. The basic idea of Tony Chu being a cibopath (able to see the memories of whatever he eats) is strong enough to maintain a series, but Layman’s never been content to keep it just there. Each new piece of the puzzle builds on what’s been stated up until now, and while it’s often still a surprise, it fits. “Chew” isn’t just a bunch of random crazy ideas all jumbled together, but rather an increasingly cohesive setting and conspiracy.
I also appreciate that “Chew” shows there are consequences for actions; after constantly rushing off to work from spending time with his girlfriend, to punching his brother in the jaw, Tony isn’t able to just wave away the problems that are going to arise. This issue of “Chew” is showing not only those problems coming back to roost, but also another issue that Tony has clearly tried to brush off not being trouble-free like he’d hoped.
Guillory’s art continues to be its slightly exaggerated, cartoonish self, and it’s a nice match for Layman’s script. Some elements of “Chew” are a tiny bit over the top, and Guillory’s art is able to help bring the humor and fun to life. This is, after all, a book where people are reliving memories of people they’ve just taken a bite from. My favorite piece of art from him this issue is easily the double-page spread of the Chu family (complete with distant cousin Charlie Chu from Oni Press), showing off a family that all have some similar features but still all look distinctly different from one another. (And how cute is Bree Chu-Shen’s Godzilla outfit?)
“Chew” #15 may be the end of the first quarter of the series, but it’s also a big set-up for lots of stories to come. It’s a nice reminder of both what’s come before, as well as what’s to follow. Not that there was any doubt, but I’ll definitely be on board for the next 45 issues still to come. “Chew” continues to be a tasty little treat.