I’ve already discussed digital comics with comiXology, The Walking Dead Volume 1, and Fables, but today I figured I’d discuss something really wacky. It was a surprise hit when it originally released back in June 2009, by Image Comics. Creators John Layman and Rob Guillory had no expectations for the series. They simply wanted to do an adult-themed book that was silly and way out there. In 2010 the series won the Eisner award for ‘Best New Series’ and from there the sky’s been the limit. It remains one the highest selling independent releases of all time. So just what the heck is it all about?
Imagine a world where the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is more powerful than the FBI. In this world a unique form of the bird flu wiped out over 23 million Americans, and as a result the FDA gained supreme control over policing the country, or at least trying to make sure the same thing never happens again.
Tony Chu is a police detective for the Philadelphia Police Department, and just so happens to be a Cibopath. Cibopaths are people who can tell what has happened to whatever they eat. If Tony eats a piece of lettuce he can tell when it was harvested, what pesticides were used on it, etc. If he eats a piece of meat, well you can imagine what he sees. The only food he can eat where he doesn’t have psychic visions are beets, but who wants to eat beets all the time?
While investigating a suspected chicken smuggling operation, Tony accidently eats soup made with human remains. He races to the kitchen to confront the would-be murdering chef, and in the process his partner is seriously hurt, like clever to the head hurt. Outside the restaurant Tony catches up with the murderer, who slits his throat instead of being taken in. Without the chef, Tony has no way of finding the other people who may have been murdered. Their families will never be at ease, unless…no he can’t do that…could he? Determined to solve this case, Tony does what he has to, he’s starts chomping down on the chef’s body.
Once everything is said and done, his police chief is none to pleased. Sure the case is solved, but his partner is about to die in the hospital and he was caught by other officers…eating a dead body. How exactly do you explain that in a report? His chief has no choice but to resign him of duty, and just as all hope looks like it’s gone, Mason Savoy, an FDA agent comes in and tells Tony that this might be the end of his police career, but it’s the beginning of something much more interesting. Interesting, indeed!
That’s essentially the first issue of Chew in a nutshell, but what happens later on just goes from wacky to all out insane. The different cases Tony has to solve, and how everything is eventually connected to some global conspiracy makes this series one of the best. It’s hilarious, but you’ve got to have a strong stomach to deal with some of the nastier panels. When Tony’s family makes their first appearance you’ll be in switches. I especially love when other characters are introduced who happen to have unique powers like Tony, one can make people taste whatever she writes about, just by reading her work. How wild is that?
Chew isn’t for everyone, but if you have a dark sense of humor, I’m positive you’ll find something to enjoy with this daring and risqué series.