Saturday, 5 December 2009

A to Z: C is for CHEW

Three letters in and the variety continues, this time with a massive hit from Image that I only bothered to buy in trade because... C'mon... £7.50 trade!

When most people think of the third peg of the comics industry that is IMAGE COMICS they usually come up with the same sort of things: Robert Kirkman, the 90s, EXTREME, Savage Dragon, Erik Larsen, Todd Mcfarlane and comic's favourite kicking boy (though not an entirely undeserved position as we all well know. Although saying that he's gotten better lately. I'm rambling moreso than usual ignore this) Rob Liefeld.

Chew has nothing to do with any of these things. In fact Image Comics itself isn't the same crazed over-the-top monstrosity that it was back in the 90s. Nowadays it is home to some of the best independent material around. And some of the worst. But that's not the point. The point is that alongside the 90s remnants, no matter how FREAKIN' AWESOME some of them are, and the Robert Kirkman gore extravaganza, that Chew is part of a brilliant set of amazing indie titles that people should be buying and if the latest sales charts are to be believed actually are.

No, Chew is the smash hit of John Layman and Rob Guillory (though I can't judge if that hype is true, though it does seem to be climbing up the monthly charts) telling the story of Tony Chu, a Cibopathic (it means he gets psychic impressions from food. Think Longshot, only he has to eat the stuff and is Asian-American) detective who, following a very strange bust, ends up sans partner and an agent of the Food and Drug Administration. Oh and chicken is forbidden because of Bird Flu, though that might be a conspiracy.

Still all I've done so far is exposit about the series, so I best cut to the brass tacks and explain why I'm spotlighting this. This is a riveting and well written modern indie masterpiece (seriously, fuck Kickass, that's got nothing on this) with some of the best art of the year, trailing behind some amazing contenders (to be addressed in a future article). It's completely unique and both amazingly beautiful and comic book ugly at the same time, as all good art should be (except Detective Comics my GOD that is ART!). I mean observe how well the first issue presents what is basically a poster of rehashed panels and Tony Chu looking disgusted:

Beautiful. If you tell me I'm wrong then... We have different opinions.

Another interesting point to the art is how sinister it can be with its wonderfully cartoony look. I mean it does fulfil a fair gore quota that most Image comics have to do, but does it in a way that's actually necessary to get across the atmosphere of the scene. Take the crazed moment where Agent Chu takes down a murderer who's just thrown a CLEAVER INTO HIS PARTNER'S HEAD and proceeds to try and get more information about who else the murderer has killed he starts biting his face off! This is CHILLING. And totally awesome.

The plot makes a helluva lotta interesting turns over the course of the first five issues, so good in fact that I dare not even hint at them. Suffice to say if you read the fifth issue you'll be raring for more just from the shocking turn the series takes. This is comics writing done right, something that's getting harder and harder to find nowadays.

... And yet I appear to be trying to fill up 26 articles with ramblings about good comics?

... Shut up! The point is that CHEW IS AWESOME AND GO OUT AND BUY THE TRADE!




That's C, what's D? D...ecently written?

Wait, have I started a recurring joke at the bottom of these articles? Quick, I better not acknowledge it so that I can keep it going!... Balls.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting choice, very current. I haven't read Chew, except for the free first issue on line, and I'm interested but not completely won over. I must say, after this review I may just have been tipped, plus it is a cheap intro on that trade. I'll give it a go, at some stage. You make some good points and the art does look pretty bloody good!