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Chew: Taster's Choice (Volume One)

Graphic novel written by John Layman and Rob Guillory.

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A Twisted, Darkly Funny and Inventive Series About Cops, Crooks, Cooks, Cannibals And Clairvoyants!

  • Feb 3, 2011
Rating:
+5
Admittedly, besides movies, I have a passion for comic books and graphic novels. It has been a strong part of my childhood and I think I have comic book love written all over my DNA. It has become very hard to surprise me let alone impress me, it‘s just that I‘ve collected them since 1978 (since I wasn‘t even 10). Perhaps I have become a little jaded because of the Hollywood overload of watered down super-hero movies, but I have began to find super-hero comics fast becoming a rehash of past storylines and stories by both DC (controlled by Time Warner) and Marvel (now controlled by Disney) as mere marketing ploys that rely on gimmicks to generate a huge profit. Don’t get me wrong, I still collect my favorite titles but every now and then I try a different flavor, so I go for the independent companies.

Image comics have gained a reputation of having marvelous sexually suggestive artwork in the 90’s and while this is indeed true for some titles; Image/Top Cow have surprised me with “The Darkness”, “Witchblade” and the more recent “The Walking Dead” with their bold approach. Well, thankfully I ran across the now-Eisner award-winning series “CHEW”; a fantastic trip to a world that takes a bite out of you and then pukes it out on your face….in a very good way.

In a world where 23 million people have perished because of avian bird flu and chicken (and all kinds of poultry meat) is outlawed, where the Food and Drug Administration is the highest law enforcement unit in the United States, Tony Chu is a cop with a secret. A very weird secret. Chu is a Cibapathic, this means he can get psychic impressions from whatever he ingests. Now this also means that he is one helluva detective, as long as he doesn’t mind nibbling on a corpse, decomposing food and body parts, to solve a case. Chu is such a great cop that he has been recruited into the Special Crimes division of the F.D.A.. to investigate the strangest, most bizarre and disgusting cases they have ever seen. Working under a boss (Mike Applebee) who is disgusted with his special “skill” and with a fellow “Cibapathic” named Mason Savoy, they work to find serial murderers, bizarre food critics, black market chicken meat and what they find may be something more than Tony Chu had bargained for…

 



“Chew” is a series whose title is a play on words on the lead characters name “Chu”. I thought this was an ingenious approach and but there is more to the title than what it implies. What made this series intriguing for me is the way it came up with this alternate world; I mean, chickens are an illegal commodity and people would pay a large sum of money to partake of the forbidden meat. There is a subtle commentary about our need to desire something that is outlawed, seems like making something taboo is just so enticing to humans. Mobsters and gangs have hidden places where they traffic the chicken meat and the way writer John Layman and artist Rob Guillory imagines this world is quite inventive. This first volume called “CHEW: TASTER’S CHOICE” is divided into 5 chapters, the five chapters introduce quite a number of characters that will play a significant part of Chu’s life.

Aside from this wild world and the manner where Chu and Savoy approach the investigation of their cases, what gives the series its winning for formula are the way it develops its characters. The writing is sharp and the dialogue is fitting to its premise, and while there is profanity I felt that it was necessary to flesh out its characters as the edgy dialogue is part of its police and street ‘lingo’. The 5 chapters are darkly funny with a very grim sense of humor. I loved the way that the humor has that slapstick charm as the situation and events present the best form of comedic timing, and it is just so awesome that it delivers its humor with a straight face. The series also has a fair share of violence, as there is quite a lot of gory and bloody details made entertaining by the fantastic art by Guillory. The style is kind of difficult to put a handle on; it resembles anime but it captures that European charm. The characters oftentimes have that ’exaggerated’, exasperated and emotional look, and it proves to be the series’ charm.

 

 

Volume one has 5 intertwining storylines that revolve around the characters. There’s Tony’s brother, a former chef who believes that the chicken ban is pure bullshit. Amelia Montz is a food critic wanted by Chu’s boss, who is a ‘saboscrivner’ (someone who can write about food as accurately that she can either make you enjoy the read or literally puke). Mason Savoy is an odd man with similar powers as Chu but he has awesome ninja skills. The series also has some strong commentary about human flaws as the FDA commander is a man with serious issues with those who are different. There are also some things that made me see a theme of human exploitation seeing as how both Savoy and Chu are used for their considerable skills but at the same time, they are frowned upon. Layman’s writing is rich with commentaries, and they all come either in a subtle approach or a laugh out loud moment; this makes the book very entertaining.



Every once in awhile, a graphic novel will surprise you and “Chew: Taster’s Choice” is one such book. It is twisted, darkly funny, morbid and very original; it is filled with such imaginative ideas that made me laugh, squirm, and root for the good guys. This all happens within an engaging crime noir atmosphere set with political satire and over-the-top absurdist humor that brings maximum fun and entertainment. This series is a surprising hit and has become one of the most acclaimed new series I’ve ever come across. So go ahead and buy into all the gimmicks DC and Marvel had planned for fans.  You honestly think Marvel will let any of their major characters stay dead? Comics get reprinted A LOT these days…(sorry for this statement, but I am so tired of cheap marketing ploys.)

I will be “chewing” on this compelling, original, inventive series while you try to invest money wrongly in Marvel and DC’s marketing ploys. Never forget, comics is first and foremost for entertainment, not investment.

HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!! [5- Out of 5 stars]
A Twisted, Darkly Funny and Inventive Series About Cops, Crooks, Cooks, Cannibals And Clairvoyants! A Twisted, Darkly Funny and Inventive Series About Cops, Crooks, Cooks, Cannibals And Clairvoyants!

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February 03, 2011
poultry meat is outlawed, man that sounds like a funny read WP, great review.
February 04, 2011
you will trip out on the way it develops its premise further in volume 2....
 
February 03, 2011
I would debate that while DC Comics is owned by Time Warner Communications, they do not control their subsidiary companies in a creative manner while Buena Vista / Disney is more likely to do so.
This does look really dark and twisted. The art is like a cross between Mike Mignola and some of the animation of the late '90s and early '00s. Reminds me a bit of "The Jackie Chan Adventures" series. LOL! I love that cover with the mirror in the background showing the two halves of the guy's face as well.
February 03, 2011
I know you would, but I see it a lot differently since I jave been collecting these books for quite awhile. I do agree that Disney may be more aggressive than Warner but Warner will get involved even in a small way. This book is awesome! I may do the other books as well...
February 03, 2011
Take into consideration that before Warner bought DC, DC has dumped Siegel and Shuster and pretty much kicked them to the curb after they had almost single-handedly invented the comic book superhero and saved DC from falling into obscurity, which it would have if not for the superhero trio of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Now, while DC fired them, it wasn't until the 1970s after Warner bought DC that they were given a long overdue pension and their creator bylines were restored. If anything, when Warner bought DC they brought that company into the modern era and helped to ensure its longevity. Marvel on the other hand since the '90s has been making one mistake after another and the sell-out to Disney tops the list. I think that over the next few years, Marvel will be marketing almost exclusively to children and teens mainly for merchandising purposes and making films. Heck, Disney hasn't shown any interest in the adult marketing of comic books or the films that they inspire. "Kick-Ass" wasn't even released through Marvel Entertainment or Marvel Studios despite the fact that the publisher of the book was Icon, a Marvel imprint and therefore a property of Disney as well.
February 03, 2011
DC is controlled. I know the details of that lawsuit. No one invests a lot of money and lets someone else go do whatever they want. Maybe you have a point about their operations in the past, but no. You see it, you feel it, you know it when you read the medium as long as I have. Marvel had to sell out to Disney since they lost some projects/writers to DC because of their deep pockets. See, look at the history of DC, Marvel gets a great writer and then DC entices them with higher profits. DC uses their deep pockets to outmanuever Marvel at every turn (they have done so in the past with Whiz comics). Marvel is fighting Disney's influence a little, which is why they are still losing the financial war with DC. I don't blame Kick Ass being published under Icon, that is a great idea. DC has America's Best Comics (in the past) and Vertigo. DC got V for Vendetta and Watchmen because they went for bid, it was never about DC believing that mature themes were the way to go--they went after it because it was Alan Moore and they knew it would sell. As I've said, I have read comics for 40 years and I have read a huge number of "bulletins" from each company; I know how it works. Marvel has indeed made mistakes, their selling out to Disney is because DC has very deep pockets. They had no choice, they did almost go bankrupt in the 90's, and they were forced to sell the rights to X-men for a mere $ 300,000. Both companies are into profits of course, and who can blame them?
February 03, 2011
Read the recent issues of DC and you will see how Warner gets into the creative control at times....tonal shifts, convoluted continuity and others. Then again, Marvel does the same thing
February 03, 2011
Now going back to this comic, how would you feel about a love affair between a cannibal and a food critic? LOL
February 03, 2011
Alan Moore was already at DC doing other projects when DC asked if he'd like to reinvent the Charlton Comics superheroes, but Moore came up with his own ideas and decided he wanted to kill off some of the characters in the story so DC suggested that he write something original which lead to "Watchmen". "V for Vendetta" was already published, at least partially by Warrior Comics in the UK before Alan Moore even began writing for American comics and DC simply bought the property after Warrior Comics went bankrupt and hence Moore was able to finish it. Moore isn't the best example though since like many writers and artists, he goes wherever he has the most creative freedom. With him, money usually takes a backseat to his integrity as a creative force (otherwise he wouldn't have had his name removed from the byline credits in the films of his two big DC works).

I would also point out that Marvel's commercial popularity was greater than DC's from the late '60s up through the early '80s. The issue with Marvel is that they had these great properties and never really knew what to do with them (see the cheesy TV shows and films they made in the '70s, '80s, and early '90s for examples). They also made the mistake of trying to overprint their comics in the early '90s by publishing them with variant covers, including holographic cards, glow in the dark covers, etc. while DC was less prone to this and attempted to focus on storytelling. Ultimately, Marvel made some bad marketing decisions, which is why they were forced to file for Bankruptcy in 1996. This is also why Marvel began licensing characters for film projects and why the "Blade" film happened two years later (the idea for the film had been kicking around for about four years before that), which then lead to the current trend of Marvel Studios movies. No, Marvel has made its share of mistakes and then usually scrambles frantically to fix them either by merchandising the hell out of their properties, rebooting franchises, or making films. This has been going on for quite a while.

Now, it's true that DC has benefited commercially from their being acquired by Warner, but from the start, DC has always focused more on quality than on commercialism. Go way back to the late '30s and early '40s. Back then DC's stuff was of the highest quality artwork and writing, while Timely's artwork was more crude, their stories more simplistic, and they relied heavily on advertising gimmicks. Now, jump forward to the early '60s where Stan Lee revitalizes the company, now renamed Marvel, and co-creates the majority of the characters that would provide the company with its books for the next 45 years. Marvel grew from the '60s on up through the '80s and their artwork and stories were innovative mainly due to a relatively small number of people, some of whom had worked at DC or other small publishers beforehand. At the same time, DC also blossomed and developed its storytelling in particular during the late '60s and early '70s and then again during the '80s when they began making more mature comics by writers like Frank Miller, Alan Moore, and Neil Gaiman.

The thing that has to be remembered today to determine who has the upper hand creatively is two-fold. One, you have to look at the classic characters and see how much they've changed since their creation decades ago. In this regard, Marvel has reinvented many of their flagship characters multiple times since the '90s. DC reinvented their '30s and '40s characters in the late '50s and early '60s, but then they pretty much remained the same until the '80s. So, here one could say that it's a tie. Two, you have to see what company has produced the most new characters and new innovative titles in the past twenty years. While Marvel has focused on their primary superhero crew since the '60s, DC has produced numerous works by many varying authors on different subjects via their Vertigo, Amalgam, America's Best Comics, Paradox Press and numerous others. Marvel really hasn't branched out all that much except for Epic, Icon, and Soleil. Marvel has chosen to stick primarily with stories about superheroes, villains, and vigilantes. DC has expanded their repertoire to include serious science fiction, fantasy, and horror books. In this regard, DC definitely comes out ahead of Marvel.
February 03, 2011
In terms of this comic, I'm kind of just intrigued with the whole idea of cibapathy and the thought of people swallowing articles of evidence in order to find out who committed what crime. That's an original idea for sure. Certain mythological characters such as vampires and elves are meant to get psychic impressions from their food, but not quite like this.
February 03, 2011
Well, like I said, we can debate this forever. But he bottom line is; DC had the funds for a long time and it is easy for them to do more. Why does Marvel fail?..., because they lose their creative teams all the time. All of I am saying DC is using their deep pockets to out manuever Marvel. I stand firm that Warner influences DC's comics...as for re-inventing characters--Flash Rebirth, Wonder Woman, Supes, Green Arrow, Batman? How many times have the big three been reinvented? both companies are guilty. Moore indeed has a history with DC--why? their deep pockets....but those projects still went out for bid.

I think you will like this. It is weird, twisted and sick. I just loved it!
February 03, 2011
Marvel has had deep pockets too, it just hasn't done them much good because of poor planning. For example, Toy Biz produced action figures of both Marvel and DC characters, but then Kenner Toys (now Hasbro) bought the exclusive rights to make toys based on DC characters. Meanwhile, Toy Biz begins doing action figure lines of popular Marvel superheroes such as The X-Men and The Avengers and later would go on to create toys based on Marvel animated series like "X-Men", "Spider-Man", "Iron Man", and "Hulk". Now, Marvel went bankrupt in 1996, which was caused by poor marketing and bad business decisions on their part, as well as mediocre writing. Toy Biz and Marvel merged to form Marvel Entertainment, which produced toy lines, animated series, and a number of films in the late '90s and early '00s including "Nick Fury: Agent of Shield", "Blade" and "X-Men". Still, the company wasn't doing well and began creating extensive toy lines for other non-Marvel properties including baby dolls, action figures based on popular TV series like "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" and "Xena: Warrior Princess", as well as making action figures of pro wrestlers, radio control cars, and then later action figures based on "The Lord of the Rings" films. Still, Marvel Entertainment made bad decisions and overspent on a number of their films such as "Spider-Man" and "Hulk". They then began to look for other areas to make money. In 2007, after over 17 years together, Toy Biz and Marvel parted ways... sort of. Toy Biz was renamed Marvel Toys and was still owned by Marvel, though now they make toys of other non-Marvel superheroes and comics characters and wrestling toys. Marvel then sold their superhero rights to Hasbro, who sold their rights to DC characters to Mattel back in 2004. Now, here's where things get complicated since Mattel is owned by Disney. Disney is currently making huge profits of fairly low quality toys based on DC characters, meanwhile Hasbro has been making okay profits on mediocre quality toys based on Marvel characters. When Disney bought Marvel in August 2009, this meant that Disney not only would receive massive profits from both the production of DC-based toys, but also of Marvel comics, toys, films, and any other merchandising. Not to mention that Hasbro's rights to Marvel toys will expire in 2017, so Disney will probably then reassign Marvel toys to Mattel, meaning that they would have a virtual monopoly on all the major comic based toys. So, to accuse Warner and DC of being more ambitious or commercially aggressive is false, since Marvel has been acquiring smaller companies, building itself up, selling themselves to get out of debt in one place, and then selling themselves again purely for profit.

Now, if you choose to disregard the merchandising and toys and focus on films, then there is this...
Marvel has made 3 films based on the character of The Punisher, none of them are sequels or even part of the same series. The last 2 films were reboots because Avi Arad and the folks at Marvel were more interested in making a quick dollar than creating a film accurately based on the character.

Marvel hired Sam Raimi to direct the Spider-Man films. This was risky since Raimi is, or was rather, a cult director and had never done a film on this scale or with this much riding on it. When Marvel hired Raimi to direct the films, which would be released through Sony/Columbia, they didn't bother to make sure that Raimi's ideas meshed with their own. Avi Arad publicly said that he wanted to see ten Spidey films while Raimi said that he only wished to direct a trilogy. Raimi wasn't stupid however and he chose his cast in part on their desire to work with him and not on their interest in the comics. As such, when Raimi made the third film where he pretty much had total control over the final product, Marvel became upset that Raimi left no real room for sequels having killed off all of the major villains as well as having the assurance of the cast that they wouldn't do any future Spider-Man films without Raimi as the director. Ultimately, this backfired on Raimi since shortly after Marvel considered having Raimi do Spidey 4, they then fired him and chose to reboot the franchise since that meant that they would be able to make more money and more films with more control.

Now, take the character of The Hulk. Marvel's first "Hulk" movie directed by Ang Lee came out in 2003 and was mild success critically and commercially. Marvel then decided 5 years later to reboot the series and chose to hire an entirely new cast and a new director, but rather than basing it on the comics they chose to base it on the old '70s TV show. Now, Marvel has sacked the cast again and hired a new one.

Look at the X-Men film franchise. First two films directed by Bryan Singer, both of which were hits. What does Marvel do? They drive the director away and hire a hack to end the initial film trilogy. The film was a huge disappointment to fans, so Marvel then gives the go-ahead to do prequels. "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" is the first of these, but the films is met with mixed critical responses and many comic book fans decry the unfaithful script and poor casting. So, Marvel goes for another attempt and hires Darren Aronofsky to direct a new "Wolverine" film. Meanwhile, numerous prequels are in the works for the X-Men franchise with different directors, cast, and continuity.

The problem with Marvel, quite frankly, is that the people they hire to watch over their financial interest don't care about fans or comics. They only care about profit. Because of this, Marvel has made huge mistakes that cost them money and credibility. Rather than examining their mistakes, they fire whoever was in charge and start over... and make the same mistakes. This is why we keep getting remake after reboot after sequel after prequel. If Marvel wants to be truly successful, they need to hire someone to look over all of their assets and plan on how each franchise will progress and how each franchise will overlap. They need someone who understands the characters and the stories and will be true to them and to the fans. This has yet to happen.

However, at DC and Warner, they have found the people to look over their characters in films in the forms of Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder.
February 03, 2011
Dude, Marvel had decent pockets; they made those movies with Columbia and other production outfits. Time Warner is worth billions and Marvel was small potatoes compared to DC. I am not saying that they never made mistakes; but it is a business, pure and simple. Creativity? DC not influenced by mainstream? I know you like DC, but have you even seen the stupid portrayals they have on TV? Have you read the recent garbage they have out now? You know they always bully their way through their deep pockets? I know it is just the way of big business, and I understand.

Bryan Singer was lured away to do SUERPMAN RETURNS. He wasn't forced out of those projects. Oh, btw, to me, those X-movies weren't as good as they were hyped up to be.

I really don't want to argue this in a public forum and you do have your points, but this is where you are mistaken: "The problem with Marvel, quite frankly, is that the people they hire to watch over their financial interest don't care about fans or comics. They only care about profit. Because of this, Marvel has made huge mistakes that cost them money and credibility." They are the same in regards to making profit. Again, it comes down to deep pockets.

You are also wrong with this: "However, at DC and Warner, they have found the people to look over their characters in films in the forms of Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder." Again, they have deeper pockets and they did try to keep contracts with Columbia but it didn't work out. DC is a better marketer, and they reboot too...Remember they are both businesses. All your criticisms all play down to having deep pockets. Yeah, I know they may have made a mistake hooking up with Disney....besides, there is the possibility that maybe it wasn't the director's fault. Decisions are made because of capitalism. You want to be creative, you cannot have investors. I don't expect directors to clown the people giving them jobs, so they will take the heat. It is reality. But going back to creativity--as I understand those Marvel movies we both thought were bad were accepted by the mainstream. I agree with you on this; "If Marvel wants to be truly successful, they need to hire someone to look over all of their assets and plan on how each franchise will progress and how each franchise will overlap. They need someone who understands the characters and the stories and will be true to them and to the fans. This has yet to happen." I agree, but again....as I understand those bad comic book movies made money...so they weren't complete failures in the eyes of the producers and investors. The problem is: bad movies make money--pure and simple because of the fanbase of comic books. A fan will watch a bad movie just because--people needs to vote with their $$.

Also as I can remember, DC shaped up their movies after Marvel once again made millions in making movies. As for Nolan and Snyder--remember what I will tell you now: Dark Knight Rises will not be as good as the first two films--I can almost guarantee. Sides, as I remember DC has a huge history of making bad comic book movies...

Politics, capitalism and profit-making. They will always prove to be the bane of total creative control. I have experienced this always. This also plays a huge part why new comic book prices these days are ridiculous.
 
February 03, 2011
Hahaha how morbid and interesting! I mean the prologue alone had me cringing and giggling. Awesome! Thanks for the heads up bro, this is intriguing stuff.
February 03, 2011
My jaw dropped when I started reading it...I cracked up and squirmed at the same time. thanks for the read, bro! Hope you excuse my commentary about the state of mainstream comics these days, I am starting to get sick of all the gimmicks, they should pay attention to storytelling instead.
 
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One of the best comic books I have come across in years....incredibly clever and a Lot of Fun! If you only read ten comic books a year, this has to be among the top 5!!
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William ()
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Wiki

The first three issues of Chew have all sold out multiple printings with the first issue receiving four printings as well as being reprinted in black and white in The Walking Dead #63.[20][21] The first issue was so popular that it was called one of Image's most acclaimed titles, and was reprinted again in the first wave of the Image First line.[22]
Critical reception has been mostly positive. IGN gave the first issue a 9.5 out of 10 and the subsequent issues 9.0, 9.1 and 8.8 respectively.[23]
Chew Vol. 1 Taster's Choice[24] and Chew Vol. 2 International Flavor[ have both been on the New York Times Bestsellers List.
Chew ended up on several Best of 2009 lists, including IGN's Best Indie Series of 2009 (beating The Walking Dead and Bad Dog)[26] </ref> and MTV Splashpage's Best New Series of 2009.[27] Chew was also #4 on ComicBookResources.com's Best 100 Comics of 2009 list.[28]
On July 23, 2010, Chew won the Eisner Award for Best New Series] Chew also won two 2010 Harvey Awards (Best New Series and Best New Talent)[30] and was nominated for, but did not win, two 2010 Eagle Awards (Favourite New Comicbook and Favourite American Colour Comicbook).[31]
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Details

Author: John Layman, Rob Guillory
Genre: Comics & Graphic Novels
Format: Trade paperback collection

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