Sunday, June 27, 2010

Review: Chew: International Flavor

Chew: International Flavor is the second graphic novel collection of the Chew series. In this one Tony Chu, FDA agent, and "cibopath" gets a new partner...his old partner from his police days, John Colby, a guy who caught a meat cleaver to the face in the last graphic novel. Through some clever play acting, they trick Chu's asshole boss into partnering them up. Chu and Colby make a good team and with some solid detective work they quickly make a bust on some illegal chicken trafficking mofos. The bust leads to Chu and Colby finding out about a new fruit, one that tastes remarkably like chicken. After one bite, using his cibopathic skills that give him psychic impressions, Chu is able to trace the origin of this new fruit back to a tiny Pacific island.

Chu, going it alone, decides to follow up on the lead, and travels to Yamapalu, the island where the fruit came from, to figure some things out. Along with Chu on the journey is his celebrity chef brother who has been hired by the Yamapalu government to open a fancy new restaurant there. The mission proves to be a tricksy one, as Chu has to contend with local thugs, militia, an incompetent local police force, a rooster named Poyo, a big boobied USDA ninja chick and her rat "Jellybean", and a skethcy Russian vampire. To top it all off, Chu might also have to rescue the girl that he likes from the clutches of evil...

This second Chew graphic novel is another instant classic. The writer-illustrator team of John Layman and Rob Guillory has proven once again that they're a dynamic duo. Layman's writing is clever and often very funny. He definitely has a skill for keeping the reader entertained, while also presenting a very interesting story arc, and adding great new intriguing developments. For me, Layman's writing and pacing is near perfect. I find it hard to put Chew down once I pick it up.

The other half of the duo, Rob Guillory, delivers on the art front once again. He has a very unique illustration style. It is somewhat on the cartoony side, compared to some of the near photo-realistic art seen in a lot comics these days, and the art goes a long way to helping define the personalities of the individual characters. His art really brings out the humor of Chew. There are many panels, where small details give me a chuckle, then others where the entire panel is completely hilarious.

The writing and art of Chew truly complement each other well, but there is another aspect of Chew that I think is a standout. On top of his writing duties, Layman also handles lettering duties. This may sound like a little thing, but it adds quite a bit to the work load. I hope Layman knows it is worth the effort though. The fact that Layman does the lettering means that there is no disconnect between his vision for the story and the way the dialog is presented. Layman has a great knack for giving the reader a great sense of inflection and temperament with the lettering and it really adds to the overall quality of the graphic novel.

I can now happily say that I am caught up on the Chew series. From here on out I am reading the individual issues, which means no more waiting around for trades to come out. Instead I can get my fix on a monthly basis. For those who want to do the same, now is the time, Chew: Taster's Choice collects the first five issues, and Chew: International Flavor collects issues six through ten. Issue eleven is in your local comic shop now, so get out there and get your hands on these books, and enjoy!

Grade: B+

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