Best Shots Advance Reviews: CHEW #24, PROPHET #22

Best Shots Advance Reviews


Chew #24

Written and Lettered by John Layman

Art by Rob Guillory

Published by Image Comics

Review by David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Some premises are just gold mines, and John Layman's pitch for Chew is one of them. There are so many weird twists you can take for foodie-based powers, but we're getting to the point where the culinary kung fu is besides the point. This is a book about wallflowers with power, about geeks inheriting the earth. And I think that's why Chew still feels so satisfying, even in a fairly bite-sized chapter like this one.

It's to Layman's credit that for the past few issues, his protagonist, the psychic gourmand gumshoe Tony Chu, has barely made a blip on the radar. Instead, Layman focuses on Chu's supporting cast, such as his rebellious teenage daughter Olive, who has teamed up with her father's rogue former partner Mason Savoy. It's surprisingly action-heavy as opposed to comedic, although the absurdity of someone carving a laser cannon out of chocolate lightens the mood a bit. But where Layman really succeeds here is that he broadens the mythology of the Chewniverse fairly substantially here, showing readers that the potential scale of these foodie powers could be a lot bigger than solving simple drug cases.

Rob Guillory, meanwhile, uses this issue to showcase some surprising action chops. He's always been great at expressiveness, but seeing images like Olive twisting to dodge a hail of gunfire, or the enormously overweight Savoy leaping out of the night like a beer-gutted ninja shows that he's really got a skill for balancing both the fighting and the small, humorous details that make these images so memorable. In certain ways, Guillory also seems to be taking some pages from the Ryan Ottley playbook, because there are a couple of scenes of violence where the bruises and blood splatters are in total overdrive. Guillory's style may be cartoony, but it's definitely adult-oriented fare in this ish.

With this book hinging more or less a fight sequence, with some exposition to anchor everything, Chew #24 is extremely accessible and relentlessly fast in its pacing. That said, for those who have gotten used to a more languid set-up for the inevitable food gag/reveal, it does make this issue feel a little shorter than some of the rest. The other slightly disappointing consequence is something that's also Layman's prerogative — after spending so much time early on with Tony Chu, it's hard not to miss our hapless hero. He lent this book a lot of its trademark humor, and without him, the pall is noticeable.

That said, even without the series protagonist, Chew is a book that continues to surprise with its versatility. Layman and Guillory show no signs of slowing down, building their world up with plenty of new rules and wrinkles, Joss Whedon-style. It's not a perfect home run, but this book is still swinging for the fences.


Prophet #22

Written by Brandon Graham

Art by Simon Roy and Richard Ballerman

Lettering by Ed Brisson

Published by Image Comics

Review by David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Even though Prophet had its roots in the superhero-heavy excesses of the '90s, this latest reboot of the Rob Liefeld property is something else entirely. And that's not a bad thing — instead of capes and tights, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy have put together some tough-as-nails science fiction, pitting a stranger against a strange land and letting the landscapes speak for themselves.

Roy's art is the main appeal here, as Graham generously gives him plenty of room to strut his stuff. It's some of the more evocative art you'll see on the stands, sort of evoking a little bit of that Frank Quitely/Geoff Darrow lushness in the details. From the luminescent blue creature gripped on Prophet's shoulders to the multi-limbed, Pan's Labyrinth-style anatomies of the aliens, Prophet isn't afraid to be ambitious with the visuals and reach for the stars. The thing about this book is that while Prophet is our protagonist, the real impressive stuff is the visual world building, the sheer scale of the architecture and creatures of this world. In other words, Roy constructs one heck of a primal yet sci-fi infused playground for our wanderer to fight through.

Graham, meanwhile, has a voice to him that, in many ways, has that sureness and deliberateness of a prose author. That's not a bad thing, because it lets the reader not focus so much on the linear, Point A to Point B journey that Prophet's taking, and instead let us stop and smell the interstellar roses, so to speak. It's almost at the risk of ignoring the largely silent Prophet himself, although Graham injects a nice bit of culture shock near the end to liven things up.

Yet this story — almost a cosmic Conan, a Martian Man With No Name — is an investment, not easily taken by the casual reader. If you didn't read the first issue, you might be lost in the dust, and even if you have read the premiere reboot issue, plenty of people might find the pacing a little too slow. It is the scenic route, after all. But at the same time, some of these critiques might be looking at this through the lens of the superhero — and that is the last thing Prophet is pretending to be. It's a breath of fresh air for science fiction, and it's so gorgeously rendered that it demands your attention.

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