Monday, 30 June 2014

Chew/Revival #1 Review (John Layman, Rob Guillory, Tim Seeley, Mike Norton)


I say this with complete love because I’m a huge fan but Chew might be the weirdest comic being published at the moment. It’s been an odd series since the beginning but if you saw how Volume 8 ended, you’ll know just how bizarre things get and how far John Layman and Rob Guillory have departed from “odd” and leapt into a new category of weirdness. 

In yet another strange move, Chew has crossed over with another Image series, Revival, for a spin-off comic, Chew Revival. It’s a double issue printed back to back so once you finish one comic and get to the middle, you flip it over and read the other, with stories from the respective creative teams set in Revival’s Wisconsin. 

In the Chew issue, Tony and John to investigate the foodie-related crime of dismemberment and meet Officer Dana Cypress, who fills them in on the whole reviver-phenomenon. FDA-whackiness ensues, and it ends on what Chew readers will know is an ongoing visual joke. The Revival issue follows Dana and Tony as they investigate a case of grave-robbing and lost love. 

I say that crossing Chew with Revival is a strange move because the two series are kinda polar opposites, and this crossover really highlights this. Chew is a fun, gleefully over the top and utterly silly comic - Revival is a dead-sober, horror-centric one. When reading these stories back to back, the difference in tone between them is actually quite jarring. 

I read the Chew issue first and loved the usual craziness especially the way John Layman’s lighthearted take on placing Tony and John in the Revival world really worked. He played it for laughs and pulled it off. 

Flip over to the Revival side and immediately you can tell something’s wrong: Tony looks different. I’ll only accept Rob Guillory’s Tony and seeing his infinitely more realistic depiction by another artist was really off-putting. My expression was like Dana’s on the same cover. 

Tim Seeley’s comic focuses on the tragedy of love lost, the intensity of that love transcending life and being warped by whatever caused the revivers to come back. There’s lots of sadness, violence and gore. Tony goes from being the hero of Chew to another bland detective character in a bad cop show. 

I’m a Chew fan, not a Revival one, and this crossover didn’t win me over to Revival. In fact, it underlined why I read Chew every month as opposed to Revival, and it’s not just tone, but just how original Chew is - there is no comparison to this series, it’s doing something totally unique and enjoyable. 

But comparing this Chew comic to the regular series stuff? Unfortunately it falls short, and I’m putting that down to the Revival element that’s mixed in. People coming back to life in Wisconsin just isn’t very interesting, at least not in the way it’s done in Revival, and sending in Tony and John to investigate that doesn’t make it more so. 

As a Chew fan, I enjoyed part of this comic even if I feel it’s not as good as the 100% Chew monthlies, and I felt ambivalent at best towards the Revival stuff. Maybe if you’re a fan of both titles you’ll get more out of this. For me though, this was a crossover that seemed like a fun idea on paper and quite a mediocre one in execution.

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