Review: Chew Vol. 1 Taster’s Choice

Published on August 24th, 2010

Ah 2009, it was a simpler time. A time when Dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and I had never heard of Justin Bieber. It was also the last time ComicImpact had Trade Tuesday. Well guess what boys and girls?! Trade Tuesday is back! And it’s gonna be exactly as you remember it! Except instead of video we’re doing written reviews. But besides that it’s exactly the same! EXACTLY! So get ready because this week I’ll be doing a review of Chew Vol. 1: Taster’s Choice.

chew-tasters-choice-tpI got to be honest when I first heard about Chew I was skeptical, very skeptical. I mean the series is about a detective named Tony Chu who has a psychic ability that gives him a mental imprint of anything he eats, except beets (This is known as being a cibopath). That is one of the strangest concepts for a comic book I have ever heard of, but on the other hand who would have thought twelve years ago that a cartoon about a talking sponge would still be on the air. Well after several friends highly recommended this series to me, not to mention it won the Eisner Award for Best New Series, I decided to check this book out for myself and purchased the first volume of this series entitled: Taster’s Choice. I read the book in one sitting, and with a short attention span like mine that’s saying something.

The story starts with Chu working for the Philadelphia Police Department on a stake out with his partner. They’re not looking for drugs though, these guys are watching out for illegal chicken. Let me explain, see there was a huge Bird Flu epidemic that was comparable to the Black Plague and the government claims it came from chicken. So now chicken is outlawed and our hard earned tax dollars are going to keeping people from eating chicken. Anyway while on the stake out Chu and his partner are interrupted by Agent Mason Savoy from the F.D.A. The officers are told not to interfere, but if they want they can go inside and have some chicken. When Chu eats some chicken soup he gets psychic impressions of thirteen missing young women, he realizes that one of the cooks is a murderer. Chu and his partner go after the killer and get him cornered, the guy ends up killing himself to avoid going to prison. The only way for Tony to get the names of the missing girls and give closure to their families is for him to bite a chunk out of the killer and use his talents. Unfortunately for Chu his captain has to take him off the force because for some reason taking a bite out of a corpse is frowned upon. Just when Tony thought he was done Agent Savoy comes in and informs Detective Chu that he will now be working for the F.D.A.

The rest of the book involves Chu going to work at the F.D.A. and learning the ropes. We get introduced to some other characters like Mike Applebee who is Tony’s new boss and one of the first things this man does is force Tony to eat a human finger that was found in a Fast Food Burger to learn the man’s identity, even though Mike already knew who the finger belonged to. We are also introduced to Chu’s eventual love interest, Amelia Mintz who has a profound ability to write a food review that can make the reader feel like they have experienced the meal she wrote about. We also find out that Tony’s new mentor, Agent Savoy has the same powers that Chu does. I really don’t want to ruin the end of this book because I think everyone should give this series a chance.

I’m really glad I decided to pick up this Trade, John Layman and Rob Guillory definitely earned their Eisner award. As I said before, the premise of this book is really weird and I think that John Layman is a genius for coming up with something like this and actually making it work. And I absolutely love Rob Guillory’s art, it’s a very cartoony style, but I think it works perfectly with the subject matter. My favorite character is Agent Savoy who is described as the lovechild of Orson Wells and a grizzly bear in the back of the back where they show some sketches of Chu and Savoy.

The book itself is a collection of the first five issues of Chew. I’m a little disappointed in the lack of extras in this trade, all it really offers is a dedication in the front and a couple of sketches in the back. Although the coolest extra is a translation of a Russian conversation that took place in issue #4 that gives you some more information to what’s going on in this book. I think they could have at least put a forward in the beginning of the book.

If you haven’t been reading Chew you can pick up Volume 1 at your local comic shop or Amazon for a measly $9.99. Or you could buy the snazzy Hard Cover Chew Omnivore Edition that includes volumes 1 and 2 also on Amazon for $23.09

Ken Zeider