Written and Lettered by John Layman
Art and Colors by Rob Guillory
Published by Image Comics
Review by David Pepose
I've loved Chew since the first issue, and was never afraid to let people know it. But the first issue of John Layman and Rob Guillory's International Flavor arc left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, as I felt our hero -- and the humor -- was getting overshadowed by a new partner.
Well, I'm delighted to say that it seems that that issue was just a bit of a hiccup, because this issue of Chew has the same flavor of its the stellar first arc. Layman and Guillory back each other up -- just like any good cop story -- and the result is a solid sophomore issue that feels, in many ways, like a truer introduction to this storyline.
The thing I've always enjoyed about Chew is the food-centric universe -- following a supposed outbreak of bird flu, chicken and poultry are more illegal than crack cocaine -- and in this issue, Layman continues to flesh out this brave new world. By introducing us to special agent Lin Sae Woo, we get a clever take on the USDA, which is apparently now in the practice of hiring elite killers for the payroll. She's got a strong voice that segues nicely into comedy, and really jumpstarts Chu's investigation into a mysterious fruit that tastes like chicken.
Guillory, however, is pulling double-time with his art. For the first half of the book especially, there's a chance that the humor would have gone stale, as there is a decent amount of set-up until Woo and Chu meet. Yet because of his quirky character designs, it never feels slow -- even seeing images of Chu's brother arriving on the scene look expressive and, more importantly, hilarious. But Guillory surprises you with his penchant for action, as well -- without giving too much away, there are two fight sequences: one that's funny, and one that is just brutal.
Humor, action, getting a taste of a brand new world -- Chew really has everything you could want in a comic. Despite briefly stumbling out of the gate last issue, Layman and Guillory have found their feet again, as they have put Chu on another case worthy of his time. If you haven't been reading this book, go get it, right now -- the international taste sensation is back, and after you read it, you'll be joining me in sending my compliments to the chef.