Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chew Omnivore Edition: Vol. 3

This review could be filled--nay, chock-full--of poorly executed food-related puns.

I won't inflict that on you.  You're welcome.  But please, check out all of the clever wordplay and fourth-wall-busting jokes in every issue that comprises Chew: Omnivore Edition, Vol. 3.  There are all these special touches that take this comic from "really, really, really good" to "words-fail-me-good."

My words haven't failed me entirely, since I am reviewing it.  I cannot promise a fully coherent review, though, since I fear that any minute my head is going to either explode or implode from the massive amounts of tree pollen liberated by this afternoon's torrential downpour.  Someone's hammered nails into my jaw, so I'm leaving it slack, tongue lolling a bit.  They've also driven more nails into my temples and behind my eyes, so I'm typing this with eyes half shut, all the shades drawn, and no lights.  I look a bit as though I've suffered an aneurysm (which, by the way, is a difficult word to spell correctly when your skull is pulsating in pain).

So.  The other difficulty here is that if you're not familiar with the Chew series, a lot of this is going to sound really, really, really crazy--to put it mildly.  Here's the rundown:

THE FUTURE (Please read this in a dramatic, deep, movie-trailer-guy style voice):

An avian flu epidemic has practically wiped out the world's supply of chicken.  Counterfeit cluckers and their distributors are the new drug runners.  Consequently, the FDA has become the USA's premier crime-fighting agency.  One of its star agents is Tony Chu, a cibopath.  Tony can eat something and see its provenance (hence his strict diet of beets, since they don't trigger visions of slaughterhouses or pesticides).  Tony's abilities make him highly in demand at crime scenes, since he can taste the blood of a victim and see the events that lead up to his death, or he can taste the oil from the getaway car and see where it had been parked.

Pretty cool, huh?  Well, except for the "I have to sometimes eat bits of stuff that's really, really gross" part.

As with all good detective stories, Tony's in way over his head.  His former partner, also a cibopath, has gone rogue.  His former former partner is now a cybernetic agent who has an unfortunate tendency to be amorously involved with his superiors.  Tony's daughter, Olive, has massive teenage angst, and pretty much every crime syndicate in the world wants to get him.  Oh, and his boss hates him too.

Here we are, volume three.  Tony's daughter Olive has been kidnapped by Mason, the rogue (psychotic) cibopath.  The boss finally got his way and gave both Tony and his partner Colby the boot.  Tony's reassigned to traffic cop work (wearing, rather inexplicably, a kilt), and Colby works for the FDA with a lion named Buttercup.

Seriously, I am not making this up.  It may sound wacky and lots of other things besides that but it's deftly handled and always done with a wink and a smile.

Tony gets kidnapped by his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend (I know!) so that the crazy ex can write a book about the after-hours adventures of deceased baseball stars.  There's a vampire on the loose, and Tony's twin sister, Toni (a cibovoyant--she sees the future of whomever she bites) has boyfriend problems.  Toss in Colby's partnership with Poyo, the world's deadliest cybernetic chicken, and you have a volume full of insane, yet intelligent, fun.

I like Tony as a character.  I just want to give the poor guy a hug.  But in this compilation, well, Poyo is the star of the show.  Whenever he's introduced, this sort of lucha libre font pops up in the panel proclaiming "POYO!"  And sound it out--it's the rough phonetic spelling of the Spanish word for "chicken."

The end of the volume is indeed more somber, but the rampaging fun of the previous issues let you sort of glide over the sadness. John Layman's decision made complete sense in the world that he's created, and I don't fault him for it one bit.  Although sometimes I do think that people go into comic book writing because they have homicidal urges.  This way, they can kill off loads of people legally.

If you've not read any issues of Chew yet, stop.  Turn around.  Go get them and read them.  Okay?

If you're a Chew fan, this is another fantastic dish in the banquet of awesome that is this comic.

Sorry.  Food puns.

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