“CHEW” #17 (Comic Review)

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Originally published at Fangoria.com on March 5, 2011

CHEW #17 (Image Comics) is an imaginative blend of horror, dark humor and action. A signal from outer space is wrecking havoc on Earth. While the world is falling apart, a flesheating detective is on a manhunt for a murderer. This comic book series is bizarre and different, yet a really fun take on cannibalism!

Tony Chu is a sharp and thorough detective working for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Tony has a rare and unique talent that only comes out when he’s eating food. As a Cibopathic, Tony can psychically hear the thoughts of the food he eats. Now imagine how useful that secret talent could be on a murder case. Like a zombie, Tony has to eat the flesh of a corpse in order to solve a whodunit mystery.

The Earth’s skies are suddenly lit with a fiery message. At a research facility, NASA scientists are under intense pressure to decipher what the encrypted words means. These scientists can only confirm that the message’s origins are extraterrestrial. They don’t know how the fire in the sky is going to have an effect on humans.

At Francis Bacon High School, home of the “Shakin Bacons,” a playful food-fight takes a dramatic turn for the worst. A butcher knife is hurled across and lands in a student’s face, splitting his head in two. The cafeteria soon becomes a slaughterhouse, with rows of dead bodies scattered all over the floor. This gory disaster occurred right when the burning letters appeared in the sky.

Chu arrives at the crime scene with his partner John Colby, a tough guy with a cybernetic face. Using his psychic abilities, Tony kneels down and licks the blood-stained floor. As a flood of memories and thoughts enter his mind, the detective discovers someone is responsible for the massacre. Tony has a difficult time believing one of the suspects may be his own daughter.

As the writer and letterer, John Layman keeps the plot moving at a brisk pace. Colby brings out laugh-out humor at unexpected places. Layman’s witty dialogue is quite playful, especially when Tony and John banter throughout their investigation. The author layers each page with numerous twists and fresh ideas.

The art and colors by Rob Guillory adds a lot of life and energy to the pages. Tony’s facial expressions are over-the-top and vibrantly cartoonlike. The cafeteria massacre could have easily been creepy or gross, but Guillory portrays the scenario with quirkiness. In the scene, your eyes aren’t directed to the dead bodies on the floor, but to the ceiling, where two legs are stuck to it. You’re left wondering, how the hell did they get up there?

Highly recommended, CHEW #17 is a weird and twisted police procedural. This issue is surprisingly very easy to navigate, even if you aren’t an avid follower. This comic book is definitely something to cheer about! With one single read from this CHEW series, you will automatically be hooked! For more about the CHEW series, go to the official Image Comics website here www.imagecomics.com.