Chew Volume 1: Taster’s Choice (#1-5)
Written by John Layman
Art by Rob Guillory
Winner of the 2010 “Best New Series” Eisner Award | Winner of the 2011 “Best Continuing Series” Eisner Award | Nominated for the 2011 “Best Writer” Eisner Award | Nominated for the 2011 “Best Penciller/Inker” Eisner Award
Meet Tony Chu, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agent who has a unique, special (maybe even unfortunate) talent. I’m not talking about great fighting skills or those fancy abilities you see in the movies or television. He doesn’t fly or have superhuman strength either. Tony is a cibopath. Cibo what?
A cibopath is a person with the ability to get psychic impressions from whatever he eats. Do you want to know what fertilizer they used for the oranges you’re eating now? Do you want to know how bacon ends up looking like that? If you need answers to those questions then you have found the right guy.
The world that Tony Chu lives in is a world where poultry is prohibited and millions of Americans have been killed because of a nasty case of the bird flu. He was previously a police detective working with the Philadelphia Police Department and then later ‘recruited’ by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to become one of their agents. He works with other agents to solve crimes usually involving the illegal distribution of chicken meat and other food-related crimes. Of course this doesn’t involve failure to count calories or anything that people normally do with their food. Tony himself finds his new job terrifying and disgusting, not to mention he has to work with a terrible boss, Mike Applebee. Initially, Tony finds an ally in the agency in the person of Agent Mason Savoy. These two agents, Applebee and Savoy share Tony’s unique ability to get psychic impressions from food they eat. They are the only living cibopaths in the world and they are tasked to bring down the bad guys through their strange talent.
This volume starts with Tony Chu and John Colby (his partner) staking out D-Bear’s restaurant which they suspect as an illegal distribution point of chicken meat. When they are about to enter the restaurant to arrest D-Bear, they are stopped by Agent Mason Savoy who tells them that D-Bear aka Deshawn Berry has entered into an agreement with the FDA. In exchange for information, D-Bear is free to resume his restaurant operations. Agent Savoy then tells Tony and John that they can sample the meals from the restaurant, with his compliments. Tony doesn’t like the idea of eating in a place involved in criminal activities but his partner urges him on. While John enjoyed his fried chicken, Tony opted for chicken soup only to get a psychic impression that the cook is a serial killer who kills people and adds them as ingredients in the soup. ‘Interesting’ events follow suit and Tony’s gastronomic (mis)adventures continue.
I can’t go on much further without relating the whole story so I’ll just stop there. Also, I really do not want to delve into details as some people may not be comfortable with these topics. Suffice to say, this comic is not for the faint of heart (and stomach).
Volume 1 goes on to show us more about Tony’s new life in the agency, new cases and meeting a Saboscrivner (sabo what?) – I wouldn’t want to spoil these for you guys and ladies. The illustrations are superb and lends well to the concept of the comic. The story is original and interesting. Infused with humor, action and beautiful words from Agent Savoy, this comic series is definitely a delight to read. I’m really looking forward to read the next volumes.