Thursday, 6 March 2014

Chew, Volume 8: Family Recipes Review (John Layman, Rob Guillory)


I think we can all agree Chew is a weird comic. A cop who eats bits of people to find out how crimes were committed in a post-avian flu ravaged world where chicken is outlawed and vampires wander about, intergalactic flame writing fills the skies, and Poyo, a fighting cock with cybernetic implants, is so cool and badass he could give James Bond a run for his money? Yeah that’s pretty weird. And yet - 8 volumes in! – John Layman and Rob Guillory somehow make Chew an even weirder series (by the way I’m using the word “weird” as a definite positive)! 

Right away, #36 opens with a fake-out – ha fooled ya, it’s really #29.5! We’re taken back to when Toni was still alive and about to cut off her toe for Tony to eat later on. She also helps out Sage who’s gotten in some trouble with the mafia. It’s interesting to see how Tony has been side-lined as the main character by a number of the female characters like his sister Toni, his girlfriend Amelia and his daughter Olive. 

There’s more family business as Tony helps out his brother Chow and Olive learns about her mother and father’s courting days through chomping on her dead mother’s bits (she’s inherited Tony’s powers – and then some!). I’m really glad that Layman’s brought focus back to Mason Savoy who we catch up with at the FDA Supermax Food Prison. He’s a great character who’s been missing for a while now – here he gets some awesome scenes as he continues his search for the truth behind the bird flu epidemic. 

The usual foodie craziness ensues in this volume (my favourite being the Pastransformers!) and there’s a Poyo splash page as he battles Mutant Corn and Superfish, but that’s not what makes this book weirder than the norm – hell, if you’re a regular (and why wouldn’t you be if you’re reading a review of Volume 8!), then this stuff is what you’d expect from a Chew book! 

Amelia brings out a gallsaberry (a weird alien plant from Yamapalu from earlier in the series – it tastes like chicken but it’s not) she’s been secretly growing and nibbling on. It’s been giving her weird visions and she’s been writing a novel in an alien language she can’t read. Pretty odd stuff. Couple that with Toni, who’s been wandering about now – dead – like a Jedi spirit nattering to Tony, the only person who can see her and that’s crazy. But there’s more! 

Add some psychedelic chog to the gallsaberry and… I’m not giving it away here but: whaaaaaaaaaaaat?! 

Family Recipes is one of the funniest volumes of Chew I’ve read in a while. Stoned Tony and John are super-funny – they become a rabbit and a fox in their minds – especially when they raid the pillow factory! 

If there was one criticism of this comic, it’d be that things are a little too easy for the characters when they face adversity. Toni defeats the mafia easily, ditto Olive and the Frenchie food terrorists, ditto Mason and the candyman – I realise they’re comedic bad guys but still, they’re framed as obstacles and they’re really anything but. Anyway it’s a very minor point in an otherwise brilliant book. 

And Chew Volume 8 is brilliant. 8 volumes in and the series is still exciting, original, inspired, and funny as hell. Layman’s writing was already very good but he’s getting better and better, while Guillory’s art is as beautiful as ever - he even shows a few new tricks in this volume with regards to the psychedelic weirdness. 

Family Recipes is home-cooked yumminess slathered in awesomesauce – winner, winner, (banned) chicken dinner!

Chew Volume 8: Family Recipes

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