Pick of the Week

08.05.2009 – Chew #3

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

417
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.6
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 32.8%
 
Users who pulled this comic:


Size: pages
Price: 2.99

The way that the comic book industry is structured right now, there seems to be very little room for surprise. Most of the major companies can predict how a book will sell fairly accurately, and the readership seems to be set in its ways.

But every once in a while a book will come along and defy everyone’s expectations and take the industry completely by surprise.

The latest book of the kind is Chew from Image Comics.

Theses days I am leaning more and more towards buying comics in trades, especially those not put out by Marvel and DC. A book like Chew would have been something I would have made a note to look out for in trade, but would have been something that I passed up on the shelf. But for some reason I picked up Chew #1 when it came out. I’m not really sure why. I remember reading the solicitation in the comics section right before leaving to go to the store and thinking that it sounded interesting. I remember seeing the cover and liking it. And… I remember impulsively grabbing the issue off the shelf and throwing it on my stack. To this day I don’t know why, but I am glad I did. I am also glad that after reading it I sent an e-mail out to the staff here at iFanboy telling everyone to pick it up. I don’t send an e-mail like that out very often, but I did for Chew #1 because I didn’t want this book to slide under the radar. It had been a long time since I had read something so inventive and imaginative. A book that was equal parts funny and serious, and so utterly unique.

I loved the first issue. And apparently a lot of other people did too. As writer John Layman said in the letters column of this issue, Chew #1 sold out in 48 hours and this week saw its second printing hit shelves (decimating, I’m sure, the secondary market that saw issues of Chew #1 selling for $40 at Comic-Con). Suddenly this book was everywhere and everyone was raving about it. It had been a long time since a book showed up out of nowhere and caught such instant fire. If it hadn’t had the misfortune of hitting the stands the same week as Batman & Robin #1, its impact might have even been louder.

The second issue worried me ever so slightly because I didn’t like it nearly as much as the first — although I still liked it a lot — and felt it was a bit more paint by numbers; it was a bit more standard.

After finishing reading Chew #3 I was so, so happy because this issue might have been better than the first.

Chew is the story of Tony Chu, the newest agent of the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) which, in the world of Chew, is the most powerful law enforcement agency in the Unites States. This is because in this world, all poultry has been deemed an illegal substance due to fears of widespread bird flu contamination. And as with all illegal substances that people really enjoy (chicken in Chew, alcohol during Prohibition, pot, cocaine, etc.) a thriving underground blackmarket as sprung up. People want their chicken. Because, well, chicken is tasty and tofu isn’t. Tony Chu isn’t your everyday federal agent. He’s a cibopath, which means that once he tastes any kind of food (other than beets) he experiences its entire history. If he eats steak he experiences the sensations that the cow did, from the grass it eats to the pain and blood of the slaughter, the chemicals and hormones added to the meat — everything from birth to the time the meat arrives on Chu’s plate, he experiences those wonderful taste sensations. It makes him a valuable investigator (especially when he can munch on a dead body to learn a killer’s identity), but it also makes him a miserable human being.

Until now. Tony Chu is in love and her name is Amelia Mintz. Amelia is a food critic and Amelia is special too. She’s a saboscriver and that means she writes about food so powerfully that one can literally taste the food just from reading her words. Finally, Tony can experience the wonderful sensations that food can offer without all of the cibopathic side effects. And as it happens, Amelia is pretty. Either way, Tony Chu is in love.

I think that my favorite thing about Chew is the big, imaginative ideas. I love getting immersed in a world that is familiar, yet full of fantastical new elements that are fun and well thought out and, most importantly, make sense within the confines of the story. I love the idea that Amelia can pass along food sensation through the power of her words, and that it might not always be a good thing. When she gets bored with her job, she starts writing about restaurants with very poor health ratings and people all over New York start getting sick from reading her column in the paper. As if it wasn’t enough that Layman and Guillory created a cibopathic detective in a world where poultry is illegal, they also created his (seemingly) perfect mate.

It’s a funny thing to consider when talking about an industry dominated by superheroes who do fantastic things, but big, smart imagination is sometimes in short supply in the comic book world. No so here. Chew is overflowing with big imaginative ideas that are not only smart but a hell of a lot of fun too.

I’m a big fan of Rob Guillory’s art in Chew. It’s cartoony and hyper-exaggerated in way that is perfect for a book that lives in a cartoony and hyper-exaggerated version of our world. Chew is a funny book and Guillory’s style is well suited for that. But Chew is also a serious and action packed book, and here Guillory excels as well. I couldn’t imagine anyone else drawing this book, with art as unique as the concept, Guillory has given the world of a Chew a look and feel all its own.

We are nearing the end of our ninth year of iFanboy and after doing these Picks of the Week for so long its rare when something new comes along and completely surprised you. But when a book like Chew does come along it makes up for all the time spent slogging through piles of mediocre comics.

This is only the third issue of Chew, and Image put out reprints of the first two issues this week as well. It’s not too late to jump on and find out what all the fuss is about.

Conor Kilpatrick
I really don’t like beets
conor@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. Yay!  My pick too, fantastic issue.  I even got a mention in the letters pages!!  Except they spelt my name wrong 🙁

    I also enjoye World of New Krypton #6 and Iron Man #16.  Pretty good week for me overall.

    Did anyone elses’ LCS not receive War of Kings #6?

  2. I haven’t even read it yet and I already know this was the right choice.

  3. @drake: There was a problem with Diamond’s west coast warehouse, and many stores over where you are did not get many books.

  4. I wish my store had gotten any of the issues in, but as it stands, I am eagerly awaiting the trade.

  5. @Conor- 🙁  I is sad.  Hope I can pick it up next week. 

    Must avoid spoilers…must…avoid…spoilers

  6. Just seeing it on the shelve today, I knew it was going to be my potw. I rarely laugh out loud reading comic books and I did laugh a couple times during this issue. The projectile vomit, Amelia, the E.G.G, his hospital visit,  and the scenes between Chu and his boss are fantastic. This book reminds me of Killer of Demons, I think its also from Image, that had a smilar sense of humor and art style, I suggest people to go find it, its not as good but still entertaining. This book is worth the hype, this is the type of book that keeps me coming back to the comic book store every week. 

  7. I think what I love most about this series is how well it is in issues. Each is so self contained and lovely, yet the flow is perfect.

  8. @conor I was looking through your pull list at work today and I had no idea what you might pick. I was quite surprised to see Chew get the nod but I think I might have to pick it up myself now. Great review.

  9. Chew #3 was amazing– best issue of that series so far, took the series for me from really good to GREAT.  I was grinning like a little kid reading those few first pages of setup.

    Outstanding week of books overall, too. Doom Patrol, Amazing Spider-Man, Chew and Secret Six were all real standouts for me. I went with DP as my POW, but it was a tossup between those 4 books.

    Doom Patrol: really good DP story, love having those characters back; and an amazing Metal Men story.  That Metal Men story was the most fun I had all week.  The running gag with Copper was priceless.

    Amazing 601 was the best Spidey comic I’ve read since Matt Fraction’s Sensational Spider-Man annual a couple of year ago—head and shoulders over any other issue since before OMD.  Just really, really good—and I’ve not been the kindest critic of a lot of Brand New Day. 

    Secret Six: another amazing issue in a great series. Best DC book on the stands, month in and month out.

    Invincible Iron Man and Cap Reborn were also excellent, 5-star books.

    Just a phenomenal week of books!

  10. After that nice pitch on the video podcast from the creators and now Conner’s convincing review that this reads great in issues, I feel like a-hole saying I’m waiting for the trade.  But still, I am a-holeily waiting for the trade.  Seems like this is going to be one of those series (like fables and Y) that you can lend out out to your non-comic reading friends, and I want a trade to lend.  Wish I had the money to buy it both ways.  Sigh.

  11. Unsurprisingly, my shop isn’t carrying these. I hope to grab the trade. The creators on the most recent video show seemed like pretty mellow guys. I hope they are able to maintain this quality level.

  12. My pick too!  At my LCS there were no issues on shelf.  I asked at counter and all issues (5 of them) were hoarded there?  Still don’t think retailers are keeping up with this title.

  13. this was totally my pick of the week. my store got the #1 third reprinting, #2 second reprinting, and #3 regular and I was totally lucky to get all three in one day. I read them all at the same time and oh man were they so good. such a great series

  14. I’m guessing my store was a victim of the West Coast Diamond problem as well, as they were (finally!) supposed to have this, and it didn’t arrive — same as several other issues I was after. Hopefully next week!

  15. I really should’ve gave this series a chance when I could. But my LCS can’t get enough of issues #1 and #2 for reorders fast enough! Hopefully this is just as incredible as everyone says it is. Cause I would be more surprised it sells out fast if I didn’t like it. Great review conor, gald this series might be legit.

    My pick was Transmetropolitan vol.3: Year of the Bastard. Is it cheating to make this my pick? Hell yes. But when Deadpool failed to entertain and Wednesday Comics was good (but not great), then what else could I pick?

  16. This was my pick as well, really an outstanding book. It’s quickly become one of those books that I really really look forward to every month.  Hope it maintains this level of quality.

  17. Ugh… I couldn’t read this because I still haven’t found issue 2… looks like I’m going hunting today.

  18. @Slockhart-If it’s any consulation, you don’t really need to know much from #2 to understand this.  This issue has mild spoilers about what happened in the previous issue, but not much. 

  19. Everytime I read this book, Weird Al’s "Eat It" gets stuck in my brain.


    just eat it eat it eat it eat it
    get yourself an egg and beat it
    have some more chicken have some more pie
    it doesn’t matter if it’s boiled or fried!

  20. @cromulent: Does his song ‘Fat’ work for this comic as well?

  21. Jamoanie! Woo hoo hoooo!

  22. @TNC-The only fat guy in this book kicks major amounts of asses.  So…maybe?

  23. I picked up the latest issue of Walking Dead.  It was a flip book with some shit call Chew?  I didnt even care to read it.  After finishing the latest issue of Zombie Goodness, i figured, what the hell..  Just let me just say PULL THIS BOOK.  Its awesome.  All around.

  24. Awesome review by the way

  25. Surpising choice. I thought, for certain, you’d pick New Krypton because taht was a kick ass book and you love yoru Superman.

  26. I love this so book so much, it has become the Umbrella Academy hiatus, the art is so good, and the story is entertaing…can’t wait to read this.

  27. Also I want to start the TV/Movies casting bandwagon for Tony Chu, as soon as a read the first panel I saw Ken Lueng from Lost, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0504962/… though if they do a show or movie I hope they wait at least a year to get the universe foundation laid out.

  28. I picked up #1 yesterday, just to try out the series, and now it looks like I’ll be going back to the shop to pick up 2 & 3. Hope they still have ’em on the shelf. This book is so creative and unique. Glad to be on it from the start. Hope the quality stays high.

  29. I might Have to pick this up if it really is a good issue to issue read.  If not I may pick it up in trade.

  30. Sorry, but that art looks horrendous.

  31. You always know you have a hit on your hands when even the creators can’t explain the success.

    *see ifanboy’s SDCC vid to get my drift*

  32. i always forget who has the pick every week [well, because…im a retard]. and i always try to resist the urge of going to the bottom of the article and checking who it was. today i got to paragraph 4. dammit! i thought it was josh!

  33. my friend saw the preview pages for the first issue and thought the art was ben templesmith! [yes, he is a retard too]. but i kind of do see that. its like a lighthearted ben templesmith. cartoony, european, sketchy art with lots piled onto it.

  34. Great review. Not sure if it’s going to be my POW but it’s definitely a front runner. Such a good book.

  35. Well, I went back and got #2 & 3. Loved ’em!! The Mighty was my pick ’cause it’s so creepy, but after reading all three issues of this….I’m in!!

  36. My pick of the week. Absolutely fantastic.

  37. This issue was so good i ate it after reading.

  38. meh, good but not fantastic.  I’m not getting nearly as much enjoyment out of this as everyone else.  Still a fun read though.

  39. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve greatly enjoyed the first 2 issues.  It’s one of the best starts to a brand new series that I’ve ever read.

    Thank God Batman & Robin 3 isn’t out this week so Chew gets the attention it deserves.  I guess this means that Chew 3 came out ahead than Batman and Robin 2 since the first and second issues of each both came out on the same days.  Go Image!!

  40. Fully agree with the review Conor. I am thoroughly enjoying the book and think it just keeps getting better with every issue. I like the ideas being but forth here. It reminds me of when I first started reading scifi literature and being wowed by all the cool ideas i was reading.

    Also, I was laughing because there are definitely some critics whose columns literally make me wanna throw up after reading. Nobody in iFanboy though. 🙂 

  41. @emacor72 – Ewwww. You ate a vomit-filled comic book?

  42. @conor just wants to quote ralph wiggum for the next episode …. "i choo choo chooose chew"

  43. Man I do love this book. People complain about paying $3 for a comic it takes 8 minutes to read. Well, I say, poppycock! Chew 3 had me pausing for laughter every other page and then rereading like rewinding the movie parts I miss during an outburst of yuk yukking away.  Chew took me 30 minutes to get through on the first read. Money well spent on a work well done. My pull list numbers have taken a dip lately. If books like Chew start coming out more frequently I will need to go back to the negotiation tables with my wife for more Wednesday cash.

  44. I have loved this series from issue one. The art is fantastic. I want an animated version, live action, or both. It’s just that good. I can see the asian guy from the mentalist playing Chu and the show filmed like Pushing Daisies.

  45. Chew was indeed a great issue, but I loved the finale to War of Kings!  That was definitely my POW.

  46. I finally got trough my stack, and I have to agree, POTW, New Krypton close second…I love how they made his love interest his perfect compliment. Can wait for the next one…Ken Lueng is Tony Chu.

  47. I haven’t been getting ‘Chew,’ but b/t this review and the interview on the SDCC show, I’ll definitely look for the trade.

    I had a ton of 5’s this week — War of King, Echo, Agents of Atlas and Irredeemable, all awesome.  I gotta give the love to the Doom Patrol/Metal Men relaunch, though.  I hope this sticks around.

  48. Any chance we can get a talksplode with these guys? Because I would eat that up!

  49. Maybe at some point, but I’d wait until there was some more material to talk about.  3 issues doesn’t offer a very meaty discussion.  And since we don’t want to know what’s going to happen, we’ll have to wait until after some stuff has happened.

  50. @josh  Yeah plus some of us are still waiting for a Umbrella Acedemy talksplode, are 13 issues meaty enough?

  51. You know we interviewed Gerard Way way back when, right?

    http://dev.ifanboy.com/content/audio/iFanboy_Special_Edition_Podcast_-_Gerard_Way_of__The_Umbrella_Academy_

    He’s kind of tough to get ahold of frequently.  Rock star and all…

  52. I remember that I was really surprised he had time to be interviewed.

  53. Dark Horse is good to us.  All credit goes to Ron. I had no idea what the book was or who the guy was at the time.

  54. Haha, I just imagine you walking in  like "Jesus this guy has a shit ton of bodyguards for a fucking comic book writer"

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