Review by Frank Plowright
John Layman’s breakthrough series was Chew, where the focus was police detective Tony Chu, but for which he and artist Rob Guillory created a whole bunch of characters with food-related powers. In Chu’s case it’s being able to discern the past from anything he eats. As his existence was the 21st century, albeit one gone wrong, he’s not the obvious choice to be teaming with Layman’s later creations from Outer Darkness aboard a 23rd century spaceship.
It’s not part of the broader Outer Darkness continuity, and Layman places it vaguely during the events of Castrophany of Hate. The connection points begin to manifest with Joshua Rigg sitting down to discussions with an ambassador from an alien race who only communicates through food. From there it’s one wild ride in which Layman swerves the plot all over the place. It’s meta in the best sense, messing with reality, primarily of the Chew cast, yet there’s also room for some early 18th century romantic fiction and a genuinely funny space opera adventure. It requires toning down the bleakness, plotting and horror of Outer Darkness, but it’s worth it for the better moments here.
It’s Outer Darkness artist Afu Chan responsible for most of the art, and he incorporates a completely different cast into the future very smoothly, with John Colby’s cyborg appearance slotting right in. Guillory’s artistic contribution is a short present day sequence, which looks great, plus a couple of pin-up pages.
It’s not just Chu and Colby featured from the Chew cast as Layman appears to be drawing a line under his previous set of characters. Poyo is probably the one Chew readers will most want to see, and there’s no underselling the chaos a demonic chicken can cause. The first two chapters are the set-up, and all hell breaks loose in the third, but Layman’s brought along too many characters for a fond farewell to make that as effective as it might have been. It’s fun in places, but doesn’t hit the heights overall.