Review: Chew #16

Published on December 27th, 2010

What’s that you say?  You want to read a really good series?  Well, how about an Eisner Award winning series?  Still not good enough?  Then how about anEisner AND Harvey Award winning series?  And to top it off, there’s all kinds of crazy, wackiness involved!  I know you’re interested now, so I’m going to start telling you about Chew #16!

Chew is written by John Layman with art by Rob Guillory.  In this world gone mad, all poultry has been outlawed due to a worldwide outbreak of avian flu that killed millions.  Chicken meat has become a prized commodity and the FDA has become the most powerful law enforcement agency on the planet.  FDA agent Tony Chu is “cibopathic,” meaning he gets a psychic impression from everything he eats making him perfect for his job of pursuing food related crime.


Last issue ended with strange, alien writing that can’t be translated appearing in the sky all over Earth.  Issue #16 starts by showing that the sky writing has dramatically changed our culture.  Many people have given up hope, believing the writing to herald the end of the world.  Meanwhile, the government has remained strong in their prohibition against poultry.

Tony and his partner Colby are sent out to find a man named Daniel Migdalo.  During their search, Colby turns out to be completely drunk.  He is one of the people who believes the sky writing means the end of the world so he doesn’t see a point in cooperating with the FDA or being sober.  Tony has to call up Agent Valenzano who hasn’t been featured for a few issues.  Valenzano immediately remembers Migdalo as an FDA agent who also had a food related psychic power.  Migdalo is a skinny “voresophic,” meaning that as long as he’s eating he is astonishingly brilliant.  After the sky writing appeared though, he went into hiding.

Tony and Valenzano track down Migdalo who has holed up in an apartment doing nothing but gorging himself to increase his intelligence, ostensibly to figure out the sky writing.  Unfortunately, he’s now bigger than Jabba the Hutt and has grown so intelligent that he has gone mad.  Migdalo attacks Tony and Valenzano, but has grown so thick that bullets don’t hurt him.  Finally, the only way Tony can keep Migdalo from crushing Valenzano is to throw a pack of mints out of the window of the apartment.  Migdalo is so addicted to food that he dives for the mints and plummets to his death.  Valenzano warns Tony not to eat any of Migdalo’s splattered remains to make sure that Tony isn’t driven mad as well.  The book ends later that night with Valenzano secretly slipping a vial of Migdalo’s blood to the now covert Mason Savoy.

This is such a weird, fantastic book.  Every issue partners excellent, creative, wacky writing from Layman with really imaginative, kooky art by Guillory.  Every character has a very distinct look and personality.  There aren’t any two dimensional characters that one could do without.  Issue #16 is also the beginning of the “Flambe” story arc, so it’s a great place to jump aboard.

Even if you’re planning on jumping onto Chew with issue #16, do yourself a big favor and pick up either the trades for it or the awesome hardcover.

Ian Candish