Review by Karl Verhoven
Since beginning the series Tony Chu has undertaken quite the roller coaster of experience. If nothing else it displays that John Layman has little sentimentality when it comes to what’s nominally his lead character. That is underlined in this volume’s final chapter, with a turn of events that’s extremely well set-up.
By that point our Tony has been largely sidelined for much of the book due firstly to what Layman puts him through in the chapters comprising what were originally the excellent Major League Chew in paperback, and then the consequences of that experience. The adage of anything not killing you making you stronger is particularly applicable here. That includes Municipal Traffic Control wearing the most preposterous outfit artist Rob Guillory can conceive for him.
Despite the ending, much of this book is laugh out loud funny. Again and again Layman takes the plot into areas that’ll have you gasping at his audacity. The cast switch between agencies, are partnered with completely inappropriate personnel, and in one case, indulge in some stomach-turning relationships. These are gleefully illustrated by Guillory, who uses the same viewpoint from above a bed for an entire series as Chew continues, each time upping the ante.
Tony’s sister Toni takes the spotlight for a couple of chapters around the midway point, in what was originally Space Cakes. She also has a food-based talent, but it’s obscure and wilfully imprecise. On eating something she can briefly glimpse the future, except this only really works when she bites a person. No, it doesn’t do much for her relationships, but Layman makes extremely good use of this in a manner that won’t be apparent until the end of the book.
There is an extremely rare mis-step in this collection. Poyo the fighting rooster has been a highlight of the series, but this has been in brief one or two page appearances, usually as a faked film poster or a deus ex-machina solution. The mistake is turning an entire chapter over to him. While to date there’s been no such animal as the poor chapter of Chew, this is the closest the series comes, over-emphasising the whimsy with no respite. Don’t be put off, though, as that leaves nine excellently drawn, surprisingly plotted and brilliantly characterised slabs of Chew for your enjoyment.