I was late to the party with Chew – barely noticing it as a hugely talked-about-new-thing until around the third issue or so, and then attempting to catch up with whatever I could get my hands on in UK shops. Thankfully, it didn’t take long to do so – nor for it to register as one of the wittiest, most inventive and downright entertaining new books around. The current issue is the beginning of a new storyarc – and by introducing a new partner for Tony Chu and setting up a new dynamic, it makes for an ideal jumping-on point.
Indeed, after the status-quo-shattering events of #5, it’s something of a surprise to see a change in pace, and the Mason story pushed firmly into the background. It works well, though – this is still a young series, and jumping too headlong into darker territory would risk losing the unique style and energy that it’s already managed to establish. Consequently, what marks out this issue more than anything is that it’s simply so much bloody fun. Following a nice volte-face away from the implied setup of the opening pages, the arrival of robot-faced cop John Colby makes for an almost buddy-cop-movie scenario, but it works well as the dialogue flies off the page along with some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments (such as Tony’s reaction to Colby’s Minority Report-esque ability to display information). It makes up for the fact that the lead plot, such as it is, is a little less interesting than those of previous issues – falling instead into a “case of the month” sort of pattern.
But Chew bursts forth with so many inspired ideas as it’s telling said story – from the left-field concepts that drive the book, such as Tony’s power and the fact that the FDA apparently have as much cachet as the FBI and CIA put together, to things that just show up for a single panel or gag – that this is easily forgiveable. The frantic, madcap tone of the book is also helped by Rob Guillory’s artwork – it’s one of those occasions where writer and artist’s unique aesthetic just seem perfectly suited to one-another, comparable to (dare I say it) Casanova in this sense – which has more than a vague hint of the Jim Mahfoods about it (a good thing, in case you were asking). It’s early days for the series, certainly, but if you want to claim you were on the ball with what’s surely – if it keeps up this form – going to be one of the defining indie comedy-action comics of the next few years, I’d heartily recommend you check it out.