Cannibals, Cops, and Black Market Chicken


Chew: Taster’s Choice

This is a title I didn’t pick up at first — it got a lot of buzz right away, but a lot of the buzz was from some hardcore collectors, and I wanted to wait for some more measured opinions on the book to come out. But I did decide to pick up this trade paperback of the first five issues — it was less expensive than I was expecting, and that helped make it a lot easier.

The story is set in a world where the Food and Drug Administration has become a powerful law enforcement agency — because in the wake of a disastrous bird flu pandemic, it’s become illegal to sell, cook, or eat chicken. Our main character is a cop named Tony Chu who is a cibopath — that means he gets psychic impressions from anything he eats. That’s a little trouble when he eats an apple and learns what pesticides have been sprayed on it. It’s a lot of trouble when he eats a hamburger and gets to relive the memory of being slaughtered and ground up for meat. And it’s huge trouble when a chef cuts his finger while preparing a meal, and Tony suddenly learns that the guy is a serial killer. And when the chef commits suicide to take his secrets to the grave, Tony has to eat the guy’s corpse to find out where all the bodies are buried.

But while cannibalism might be a career-ender in many professions, it gets him recruited by the FDA and his new mentor Mason Savoy, a fellow cibopath — Tony can now take a bite out of an illegally-prepared drumstick and find out exactly where and when it was killed and cooked, allowing the government to crack down on chicken-producing crooks. From there, Tony meets up with his horrible new boss, chicken gangsters, the world’s greatest restaurant reviewer, and a bunch of kinky Russians, all with the guidance and protection of Savoy. But can anyone protect Tony when he turns up evidence of some really dangerous conspiracies?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Glad I got into this one. It’s creepy and weird and hilarious, and it’s got worlds of just plain awesome storytelling. The trade paperback is just ten bucks, so go pick it up.


Chew #6

And speaking of “Chew,” here’s the sixth issue. Tony has a new partner — or rather, his old partner from his days as a police detective. John Colby was along on the bust where Tony caught the serial-killing chef, but he got a butcher knife in the face and several months in the hospital. On the other hand, the FDA paid for his facial reconstruction and cybernetic augmentation — in other words, he’s got a cyber-face with an extensive sensory package and data-analysis capabilities. John and Tony don’t seem to get along at all, but they still get partnered together and dispatched to the scene of a bank robbery by Tony’s horrible boss, who wants Tony to eat some of the evidence left by the robbers. What’s the evidence? It’s, um, well, a pile. Of, ya know. Fecal material. Tony, unsurprisingly, absolutely refuses to eat it. But John has a solution in mind — good old-fashioned detective work.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice beginning to a new storyline. Nice to see some metahuman cops using regular detective work, too. And the real mystery doesn’t even begin until the last page.


Beasts of Burden #3

This issue focuses on the Orphan, a stray cat who hangs out with the dogs who make up the bulk of the four-legged paranormal investigators of this comic. He’s on the trail of a witch cat who helped them out once. She fled to the sewers, and he’s the only one small enough to follow her there. And that means he’s going up against a whole lot of unusually intelligent, unusually large, unusually genocidal rats. Can the Orphan escape with his fur in one piece?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful art by Jill Thompson and great storytelling by Evan Dorkin. A nice focus on the cat side of the equation on Burden Hill — most of the stories prior to this have been pretty dog-centric.

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  1. VoodooBen Said,

    December 4, 2009 @ 9:08 pm

    Man, CHEW is a lot of fun. Wish I’d picked it up when it first hit the stands.