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Chew Volume 1: Taster’s Choice
by John Layman and Rob Guillory


Tony Chu is a police detective with a special gift – he’s a cibopath, which means that whenever he eats something he receives psychic impressions about its past. So, if he eats an apple, he sees the orchard where it was grown and the pesticides that were sprayed on the tree. If he eats a hamburger…well, let’s just say that Tony doesn’t go for meat terribly often. In Tony’s America, the Food and Drug Administration has become one of the most powerful government bodies after a wave of bird flu decimated the population. Chicken has become illegal, but the public’s fondness for the bird has led to the development of chicken “speakeasies”, which cops like Tony regularly bust up. On one such mission, Tony discovers a serial killer in the kitchen of an illegal fried chicken joint, and his apprehension of the criminal attracts the notice of the FDA. Tony is recruited to solve cold cases for them, using his cibopathy to access the memories of murder victims and killers. It’s gruesome work that only gets worse as Tony is dragged deeper into one conspiracy after another…

So I’m sure that most of you already put the pieces together, but let me spell this out for anyone who missed it: Tony solves murder cases by munching on bits of the victims or, in one case, the victim’s dead pet. It is cannibalism’s finest hour. The dark humor and bizarre dystopian premise makes this a fun story – strange, gross, even disgusting, but entertaining and fun. Tony’s new partner in the FDA is a fellow cibopath, but they aren’t the only ones with unusual talents. There’s a pretty food critic who writes about food so convincingly that readers actually taste her subject. How does she use this power? She visits the worst restaurants in town and writes about their dishes in such detail that her food column literally induces vomiting.

In some ways, the story is a very standard cop buddy mystery story. Tony and his partner, Savoy, are thrown together suddenly but quickly develop a mentor-student friendship as the older man takes the new agent under his wing. Chu’s boss hates him, but can’t argue with the results his new detective brings. Dialogue is quick and often leads heavily toward the sarcastic and cynical,

Each chapter – originally a single issue comic – unfolds at a manic, almost rapid-fire pace as Tony is rushed from one high-risk scenario to the next. But the world he inhabits reveals itself slowly, almost leisurely. We know that bird flu has wreaked havoc on the population, but exactly how and why it had such devastating effects is withheld from the reader. Enough tantalizing clues are dangled before us to make Savoy’s claim that the government was responsible for the flu seem possible, but future volumes must be read to determine if he’s full of it or telling the truth. While the “eew” factor means this comic is not for everyone, those who don’t mind a bit of gore in their mysteries will find this unusual series well worth reading.

4 out of 5 stars

To read more about Chew Volume 1, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.



Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: Of Love and Evil by Anne Rice
2011: Fashionista Piranha will be on hiatus for a while…
2010: The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry
2009: Discussion Question: Eating and Reading
2008: The Heartbreak Diet by Thorina Rose

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
jeannietran
Jul. 10th, 2013 02:37 am (UTC)
If he ate a hamburger, would get impressions of all the ingredients' pasts? The beef, lettuce, tomato, pickle, ketchup, everything?
fashion_piranha
Jul. 10th, 2013 04:21 am (UTC)
Yup.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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