26.4.11

Chew

The hook for this little comic is that Agent Chu gets a psychic read from the stuff he eats, helping him solve impossible cases. This in an environment where poultry has been made illegal following a massive bird flu epidemic. Crazy stuff, but it's used very intelligently: as satire on prohibition and food production. What really sticks, however, is the comment on cop-work: 'It's a sad fact, an awful truth. Sometimes, in the course of this job, you're going to eat terrible things, all in the name of justice'. The speech is by Mason, Chu's partner (a cross between Orson Welles and a grizzly bear, according to the creators). While Chu's so straight he'll throw his own brother in the can for smuggling chicken, Mason is an ends justify the means kinda guy. The two are set on a collision course at the end of the first book.

If there's something missing, John Layman (who scripts the series) calls it out: Tony Chu really is a humourless protagonist. And although Rob Guillory (the artist) makes Mason jump off the page every single time he appears on it, there is something a little generically eccentric about the character. As for the pathetic romance, it isn't upped by japery, so just stays pathetic. You're expecting Casanova levels of rapid-fire odd-ball chicanery, but it's actually rather grounded. There's clever storytelling here, but for me it lacks that gut-punch factor.

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