Written and Lettering by John Layman
Art by Rob Guillory and Taylor Wells
Published by Image Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
This is where Tony Chu steps up.
Starting life as a hapless FDA agent reduced literally to eating crap, John Layman's cibopathic law enforcement agent has taken quite the turn in 33 issues. And that's a good thing. Combining action, humor and some smart rules for this foodie-centric universe, Layman and Rob Guillory deliver a seriously satisfying comic.What's perhaps most surprising is how many swerves this issue takes tonally, yet still somehow manages to stick the landing in one piece. From the over-the-top gigglefest that is Tony's boss at the FDA (now crying his eyes out since Tony stood up to him last issue) to a downright surreal interlude with that mother-cluckin' chicken killing machine Poyo, to the ultra-serious resolve Tony takes by the end of this comic, Layman shows a masterful sense of balance. In other words, he's got you hooked with the laughs, and then he sells you by putting Tony through his paces.
And those paces are nothing to sneeze at, either. One of the great strengths of Chew is that there are so many foodie-powers that can be mined here, each with their own individual rules, strengths and weaknesses. Layman has sort of telegraphed where Tony is going to fit in all this, but that halfway-point twist in this series has given our protagonist some surprising legs in the action department. For the first 30 issues, Tony was the hapless chew toy of the universe, but with his increasing repertoire of foodie abilities, Layman really is upping his hero's respect, stealing a page from Dan Slott and creating his own Chu-perior Cibo-Man.
The artwork here looks great, too, with all this action being a great platform for Rob Guillory to strut his stuff. Yes, his splash pages featuring Poyo are probably the craziest, funniest, most ridiculous images you'll see in a comic this week, but his cartoony style also lends itself well to the wild kinetic energy of this story. From Tony's food-empowered adversary to the way that our hero manages to disarm his opponent — seriously, what a smart idea, Layman — Guillory's characters are dynamic, fluid and always expressive.
Tony Chu is back — and this time, it's personal. With a newfound focus that sometimes takes this comic to surprisingly dark territory, this comic is proof that Layman is working with an ironclad premise. A world where food is a superpower can be funny or fearsome, but it takes a special creative team to do both. With a hero that continues to surprise 33 issues in, this is one of the best issues of Chew in recent memory.
Five Ghosts #2
Written by Frank J. Barbiere
Art by Chris Mooneyham, S. M. Vidaurri and Lauren Affe
Published by Image Comics
Review by Lan Pitts
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
When we left Fabian Gray, he was in the clutches of the menacing followers of the Spider-God and things only get worse from there. There's glints of some of Fabian's history with his sister sprinkled about in the first few pages, but the big story of this issue is who exactly is the mysterious Zhang Guo?
The second issue continues the fun, pulpy feel of the first and keeps things moving with action-packed pages with a sort of Indiana Jones vibe, as Fabian and his assistant try to escape savage tribesman and their colossal spiders. Frank J. Barbiere's script here might feel a tad minimal for some readers, but take into consideration that artist Chris Mooneyham is one helluva story teller and this issue epitomizes his skills justly.While Barbiere adds in another layer of mystery with the introduction of Zhang Gho, a monk who is somehow tied to Fabian's powers, and the fact that that they're still being stalked by his wizard nemesis keeps the story's pace up quite nicely. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of a recap for readers jumping on. Neither the villain at the end or his assistant is named, but you get the idea of what's happening through Mooneyham's luscious visuals.
Speaking of those visuals, it might be a tad overkill to announce the next big star has arrived, but Chris Mooneyham could easily be on the shortlist for that. While channeling illustrators like George Perez and Jim Steranko when handling panel composition, he still brings out something fresh and exciting to these pages that hasn't been seen in this decade. The inking has a David Aja look to it, but everything else just feels like classic Joe Kubert.
Five Ghosts is a rare bird these days that gives comic fans that old-fashioned adventure story without burdening the reader with diluted subplots and massive event-type stories that they can just dive right into and enjoy.