Back in 2009, comic readers were treated to the first instalment of John Layman and Rob Guillory’s delightfully bizarre series, “Chew”. The food-centered comic started with a single food-powered character, Tony Chu. Tony was Cibopathic, which meant he got psychic impressions from whatever he put in his mouth. This initial food-based power lay the groundwork for the many outrageous abilities and plot lines Layman and Guillory would cram into the series as it went on.
Sixty issues later — not including the various “Poyo” one-shots — and “Chew” has treated us to a veritable smorgasbord of food-based powers. From goons who gain super strength from putting spaghetti on their heads to a guy who can read a menu in any language, when it comes to food, “Chew” has never failed to deliver on ideas or hilarity. Not all culinary capabilities are created equal, however, so CBR has taken on the task of compiling the strangest, wackiest and downright weirdest food-based powers “Chew” has to offer.
SPOILER WARNING: The following list contains spoilers for the entirety of “Chew.”
15. THE VORESOPH
This food-based power gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “food for thought.” Gluttons for knowledge, Voresophs possess super-intelligence as long as they are eating. Not surprisingly, this skill set is particularly useful to the FDA. which employs a Voresoph named Daniel Migdalo. When we first meet Daniel, he is a skinny FDA agent helping Mason Savoy and Caeser Valenzano solve a particularly grizzly murder. With nothing but some photos from the crime scene and half-a-dozen chilli cheese dogs, Daniel is easily able to deduce the weapons and bullets used in the murder, as well as providing detailed descriptions of the two shooters.
Unfortunately, things do not end well for Daniel. After going crazy, he practically eats himself into oblivion, becoming the size of a small apartment. By the time protagonist Tony Chu encounters him, he is nothing more than a flabby monster ruled by animal instincts. Chu is able to use this to his advantage, defeating the engorged Voresoph by luring him out the window with a packet of mints.
14. THE PHARMAKISCHYROS
Those blessed with this food-based power are impossible to kill and impervious to almost all damage, under one little condition: they have to be incredibly high. As long as their neurotransmitters are effected by a psychotropic substance, a Pharmakischyros can walk away from just about any scratch, stab, impalement or bullet wound. This skill makes them the perfect medicated meat-shield since they can literally “take one for the team” and live to tell the tale.
This bullet sponge quality is used frequently by Olive Chu, who is partnered with a Pharmakischyros named Ginny when she becomes an FDA agent. In a particularly violent clash with super-criminal Peter Pilaf, Olive gets Ginny to act as her human-shield. For her trouble, Ginny is rewarded with a body full of cactus spikes, a fate that would most certainly be fatal for a normal human. Fortunately for Ginny, she was high as a kite at the time and walks away from the injury no worse for wear!
13. THE HORTAMAGNATROPH
In “Chew” issue 35, we meet Don Barely, a world-renowned farmer known for his big vegetables. We aren’t just talking larger-than-average, either; we are talking vegetables so big you can live in them! The secret to Don’s gardening success is that he is a Hortamagnatroph — a gifted individual who is capable of growing vegetables of gargantuan proportions. After a successful career in agriculture — let’s be honest, it’s probably not hard to be a successful farmer when you can grow six foot tall carrots — Don was planning on spending the rest of his days relaxing in one of his many vegetable homes. That was until zealots from a crazy egg-worshipping cult had other ideas.
When we first meet the elderly Hortamagnatroph, he is being held at gun point in his pumpkin house by believers from the Church of the Divinity of the Immaculate Ova. Fortunately for Don, FDA agent Tony Chu was on the case, so he might just get to enjoy his golden years after all!
12. THE PEDEREXPLODIER
As anyone who has read “Chew” knows, John Layman and Rob Guillroy certainly aren’t above a bit of immature humor. No food-based power illustrates this quite as well as the Pederexplodier — an individual who is able to create explosives farts. Yep, you heard that right. A Pederexplodier dispenses weaponized farts. Only in comics kids.
The only Pederexplodier we meet during “Chew’s” 60-issue run is Brann Jerwar, a purveyor of farts so powerful they pack the punch of a 16 kiloton bomb. As well as making him the last person you would want to be stuck in an elevator with, Brann’s ability also makes him a threat to global security. Accordingly, he is locked up in a maximum security FDA prison, trapped on the lowest and most secure floor. Although Brann’s brief appearance is barely a footnote in the “Chew” saga as a whole, his disgusting power is surely one for the books.
11. THE EROSCIBOPICTAROS
A Eroscibopictaros is a food photographer… of sorts. Easily the sleaziest food-based power to emerge from the world of “Chew,” an individual with this gift can take pictures of food that inspire erotic feelings in the viewer. Ken Keebler, the only Eroscibopictaros we meet in “Chew,” looks exactly how you would imagine someone with his creepy abilities to look. He has greasy hair, beady eyes, thick square glasses and a thin moustache that looks like it has been drawn on with a marker.
When we first meet Ken, he is posing as a food reviewer, using the access granted by the title to take up-close and personal shots of food prepared by master chef Chow Chu. Much to Chow’s disapproval, Ken isn’t a food reviewer but actually a photographer for the notoriously smutty “Food Luv” magazine. Unwilling to let pictures of his food fall into the hands of the perverted readers of “Food Luv,” Chow is forced to call on his brother — FDA agent Tony Chu — to help solve the problem.
10. THE SUCROFORMUTARE AND BROMAFORMUTARE
Although they are distinctly different food-based powers, the Sucroformautare and the Bromaformutare both posses the ability to transform into whatever they have most recently eaten. The similarities, however, end there. The Bromaformutare is the most straight-forward of these two abilities as the gifted individual’s head literally becomes the shape and colour of whatever their last meal was. Although not a particularly useful skill, David Eccles — a Bromaformutare and politician — was able to us his morphing head to great effect on the campaign trail.
In the case of the Sucroformautare, the transformation ability is only limited to sugary snacks. That said, in addition to looking like the sweet treat they have just consumed, the Sucroformautare will also take on some of the food’s characteristics. This ability is particularly well suited to combat as it results in perks like hard rock-candy skin, red hots sizzle grip, or a super-stretchy taffy punch.
9. THE TORTAESPADERO AND XOCOSCALPERE
When it comes to painfully specific food-based abilities, it doesn’t get much more situational than the Tortaespadero. The Tortaespadero posses the miraculous ability to cut tortillas into razor sharp objects. Yep, that’s it. Not bread. Not pancakes. Not crepes. Just tortillas. Sure, it might be a tad underwhelming, but it turns out there are perks to being able to carve a tortilla until it is as sharp as a knife’s edge. Take Olive Chu for example, who uses the ability — which she collected from a deceased Tortaespadero — to create tortilla shurikens that are completely undetectable and 100 percent lethal.
Funnily enough, the skills of a Tortaespadero aren’t the only ability Olive possess that allows her to create deadly weapons out of food. Having also taken a bite out of a Xocoscalpere, she is able to create fully functional weaponry out of chocolate. These delicious weapons can be anything from a simple dagger to a semi-automatic rifle, giving the phrase “death by chocolate” a whole new meaning.
8. THE EFFERVENDUCTOR
The Effervenductor can make a cup of joe that does a little bit more then just perk you up. Those gifted with this caffeinated capability can create mind-controlling messages in coffee foam, compelling the drinker to do whatever the Effervenductor wants. In “The Curious Case of the Black-Hearted Barista and the Lethal Lattes” FDA agents Caeser Valenzano and Vorhees get more than they bargained for when they try to take down a Effervenductor working as a barista.
After failing to control Vohee’s mind with one of his coffees, the Effervenductor sets a whole coffee shop full of brainwashed latte lovers on the two FDA agents. Later, Caeser and Mason Savoy are able to take down the pesky barista with the help of Olive Chu. Although we never find out exactly why Vorhees was unaffected by the accursed coffee, Caeser believes it is because Vohees is illiterate. Can’t obey a message if you can’t read it, right?
7. THE VICTULOCUSIRE
One of the more useful food-based powers to come out of the pages of Chew, dining in the presence of a Victulocusire will take you places. Literally. Eating near someone with this gift will physically transport you to a location based on the nationality of the food you are eating. Want to go to France? Have a croissant! Want to see the Pyramids? Sip some Egyptian tea! It’s teleportation with a tasty twist.
But the powers of a Victulocusire don’t stop there. As well as where, a skilled Victulocusire can take you to when a food originated, assuming the food is old enough. Mason Savoy takes advantage of this ability in Victulocusire Hermann Anari to take Tony Chu back to when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Although this Jurassic encounter proves to be fatal for poor Hermann, it does lead Tony one step closer to uncovering the secrets of the mysterious bird flu.
6. THE MINTHAMPERIOR
A Minthamperoir is a skilled hypnotist, assuming they have a swirly peppermint candy on hand. Wonderfully bizarre, and just slightly situational, this food-based power belongs to a sweet little old lady. She also happens to be working for the dangerous terrorist organization known as E.G.G., but nobody’s perfect, right?
Tony Chu and his temporary partner Deshawn Berry — previously the felon known as “D-Bear” — first come into contact with the mind-manipulating 87 year-old when they investigate the Sugar Rush Sweet Shack. Not wanting to be found out, the Minthamperior hypnotizes Deshawn into trying to kill Tony. Naturally, Tony fends off Deshawn and snaps him out of the mint-induced trance with a fist to the face. Although she is out-matched and arrested, the geriatric E.G.G. operative is unrepentant for her crimes, remarking that she will happily live out the rest of her days in-between the walls of an FDA prison.
5. THE VECTUCIBORUTARE
The Vectuciborutare takes the concept of bad breath to the next level. Able to create noxious burps based on whatever they ate last, individuals gifted (or possibly afflicted) with this skill are a walking chemical weapon. In a fairly predictable turn of events, the one Vectuciboratare we meet in “Chew”– Benjamin Davis Hanna — is a hardened criminal. Known as the Burping Bandit, Benjamin was right near the top of the FDA’s most wanted list until terrorist activity and kooky cults made him a lower priority.
However, this doesn’t stop newly appointed FDA agent Deshawn Berry from wanting to take him down. Much to Tony Chu’s surprise, Deshawn is able to take down the Burping Bandit fairly easily thanks to a bit of research. By wearing a gas mask, the FDA rookie is able to avoid Benjamin’s weaponized burbs and deliver the swift fist of justice straight to the human-halitosis machine’s face!
4. THE GELABESTIAR
The Gelabestiar has the somewhat morbid ability of creating beastly familiars out of the processed collagen of slaughtered animals. As well as being very angry, these familiars are also under the control of their creator, ruthlessly doing his bidding. In the second half of “Chew,” we are introduced to the “Jellassins”– a ruthless squad of paramilitary criminals and killers. As the name implies, all members of the squad also posses gelatin -based abilities, the most memorable of which is the Gelabestiar.
Before they were coerced into the service of the Collector, the Gelabestiar and his colleagues would travel the world accepting contracts and black-ops missions. This meant they were carrying out all sorts of violent mayhem and contract killings in exchange for a fat paycheck. Despite this rugged past, the Gelabestiar and his brightly-colored beasts barely last two minutes against the combined might of Olive Chu, Mason Savoy and Amelia Mintz.
3. THE COQUERAFTHARTOS
For a Coquerafthartos, immortality is always one meal away. This life-extending food-based power allows the gifted individual to live an extraordinarily long life by cooking and eating a single special dish. Jeremiah Cumberland was a Coquerafthartos and his special dish came in the form of a meat pie. Although repulsive to anyone else who ate it, Jeremiah’s pie granted him super-human longevity. With a pie in hand, Jeremiah was able to live through the middle-ages, pilgrim times, the gold rush, the roaring ’20s and the swinging ’60s. Unfortunately, his life was cut short — if you can call living to 600 short — when he was murdered and consumed by the Cibopath known as the Collector.
Fittingly enough, the Collector cooked and ate Jeremiah in the form one of the Coquerafthartos’ signature pies. Unlike Jeremiah, who used his skill to try and convince others to eat his pies through the ages, the Collector used the immortality of the Coquerafthartos to continue hunting and collecting individuals with food-based powers.
2. THE CIBOLOCUTOR
Whether it be the symphonies of Verdi, the poetry of Robert Frost or the works of William Shakespeare, the Cibolocutor can create it all in the form of a tasty meal. To say a Cibolocutor communicates through food is to do them a disservice. When they cook, a Cibolocutor is not simply relaying a message, they are creating a piece of edible art. Through their cuisine an individual with this gift can create intricate and detailed messages or recreate famous pieces of music and literature.
World renowned Chef Fatanyeros is a Cibolocutor famous for his unique and expressive cuisines. Unfortunately, this reputation results in him being kidnapped, along with other world-renowned chefs, by the governor of Yamapalu. Despite his best efforts to send cries for help through his food, Fantanyeros remains a captive on the island nation, forced to create cuisine against his will. Things go from bad to worse for the famous Cibolocutor when he is eventually found by the Collector, who promptly kills and eats him.
1. THE CEREDURATUS
In “Chew’s” final story arc, Tony Chu and John Colby find themselves face-to-face with a homicidal seller of frozen treats. The stone-cold killer is suspected to be a Cereduratus, a food-powered murderer who creates killer ice-cream. Upon ingestion, ice-cream made by a Cereduratus will freeze the victim’s cerebrum, causing instant death. Given that this deadly brain-freeze has no non-murder applications, it almost makes sense that a Cereduratus would turn to a life of violence and crime.
John and Tony arrive at the murder scene to find dozens of bodies all with their heads encased in ice and things escalate when it turns out the Cereduratus is more powerful than anticipated. Not only can he create deadly ice cream, this Cereduratus can also turn his fists and feet into solid cubes of ice. While his partner is distracted, the hulking Cereduratus gives John a serious beat-down. That is until Tony snaps out of his vision and puts a bullet in the ice-cream-powered psycho’s head.
What was your favorite food-based ability in Chew? Let us know in the comments!
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