Graphic Novel Review: ‘Chew’ vol. 1 by John Layman & Rob Guillory

Chew, Vol. 1: Taster's ChoiceChew, Vol. 1: Taster’s Choice by John Layman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How can you use a noir-type Prohibition setting in modern-day America?

Answer: set it in a world where an avian flu pandemic has led to an amendment outlawing chicken…and where the FDA is suddenly a limitless authority.

This is by far the most surreal noir story I have ever seen or read. Guillory has a unique art style—a bit fond of black sclera, but it mostly works—and the sketchier lines, exaggerated body shapes and outsize guns, and bloody bloody gore go well together to depict both the serious and the absurd sides of this story.

(Right, you may be asking how a story about food can be gory. It can. Trust me. This story isn’t for the faint-stomached, even if they didn’t put in Amelia’s graphic descriptions. That’s one textwall I would’ve liked to see.)

I had a stack of Image first issues from ALA and this was one of them. The first issue sets up a straight parody of both Prohibition and buddy-cop stories—but rest assured, it all gets better. With ninja powers. Yes, the FDA has ninjas (or at least a ninja) now.

I’m tempted to say there’s a little bit of subtle commentary on how toothless this organization is now, but that’s almost definitely me seeing what I want to see because their policies are just so…aaargh. I do want to see what the new USDA looks like, too.

Anyway, if you want to see something that’s a parody but not just a parody—it looks like the real plot is only introduced at the end, and it goes beyond the whole mock-Prohibition setup—check this out.

Maybe not right after dinner, though.

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