Change of Pace 6: Image's CHEW

Chew #6 Cover

Chew on this -- a nebbishy cop with the ability to divine clues from his food stumbles upon a serial killing sous-chef. And that's just the first issue. It's a testiment to John Layman and Rob Guillory's Chew, a refreshing treat that has become Image's new great taste sensation and -- you guessed it -- one heck of a Change of Pace.

Sweet and Sour: One of the strengths of this book is the fact that it can balance its dark subject material -- including cannibalism, gang hits, and chicken-influenced terrorism -- with a more comedic slapsticky tone. Much of that has to do with the cartoony styles of Rob Guillory, who makes protagonist Tony Chu a hilariously emotive everyman.

FDA Approved: Layman's alternate Earth -- where bird flu has made chicken as illegal as street-cut heroin -- is an interesting place that he's only beginning to explore. Yet Chu's coworkers at the slightly facistic FDA -- his mentor Savoy to his highly antagonistic superior Cobb -- are real comedic gems that Layman isn't afraid to stretch in order to pick up the story.

Exclusive Chew #7 Cover

Based on a chicken-themed terrorist group, I'm excited to see what happens next.

Quick Rising Recipe: Layman also hits the ground running quickly with the police procedural element of the plot, sprinkled with some one-page, tongue-in-cheek introductions of each of the characters. I promise, as someone who started off at Issue 3 and worked my way backwards, any issue of Chew is a good jumping-on point.

Goes Well With Everything: Did I mention that Layman likes to make a weird fusion cuisine of genres with Chew? One issue has a random bit of ninja action -- the most recent issue, meanwhile, is a hilariously pathetic love story. The look Guillory gives Chu every time he sees food critic Amelia Mintz is possibly one of the most amusing expressions I've seen in a comic since Blue Beetle.

Tastes Great, More Filling: The high concept alone is great -- but the execution is pitch-perfect. Layman has a lot of great ideas that seem to mesh together flawlessly, to make a series that is both comforting in its humor and exciting in its unpredictability. If you're looking for something that'll make you laugh while keeping you in the police procedural, Chew is one satisfying Change of Pace.

Cover images from "International Flavor," the new story arc starting in November

Twitter activity