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Chew Volume 1: Tasters Choice - John Layman

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Genre: Graphic Novels / Comics / Author: John Layman / Paperback / 128 Pages / Book is published 2009-12-08 by Image Comics

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      09.03.2012 11:33
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      A luke-warm start to another creator-owned comic

      On a whim, I ordered the first graphic novel in the Chew series from Amazon. Partly because it was only £5 and partly because I'd heard good things and it's due to be made into a TV show (like The Walking Dead). I hadn't had much prior knowledge of the series before ordering other than knowing it was about a detective who got psychic impressions from what he ate and unfortunately, most of the time it was stuff most people wouldn't want to eat.

      Once reading it I know now that the premise is a bit deeper than just that - For a start, Avian Bird Flu happened and as a result Chicken became prohibited and much like the Prohibition of alcohol in the 20s, this leads to underground 'Chicken Restaurants' and illegal meat trading. This is a very original concept and is a spin on the usual 'drug bust' storylines as these detectives are FDA (Food Department Agency) and are charged with finding meat dealers rather than drug kingpins.

      Tony Chu (who may be Oriental purely so his surname can sound like the word 'Chew') is a cibopath, which means he gets psychic memories from what he eats. This is explained in-story as knowing the pesticides used on an apple or recollecting the last moments of cattle in an abattoir from a Beef Burger. As a result, he doesn't eat much. His special skill set gets noticed by the FDA and he's recruited into locating murderers by chewing on the corpses or in one case, their dead dog, for clues. Not quite the usual 9 - 5 job.

      As an introductory arc, this first volume definitely whets my appetite for more stories, although I did find the twist in the final chapter to be a bit cliché and forced. It might make sense more in later chapters but I found it to be a twist for twists sake as opposed to a natural path in the storyline. The artwork might not be to everyone's style and there are few issues with the proportion of characters in comparison to objects around them (In a few panels, one character looks short and in others he looks tall) and it looks rather anime-esque in places.

      I would probably look into the next arc, but it hasn't grabbed me in the same way that The Walking Dead and Invincible (also by Image Comics) did.

      This Review also appears on my blog
      (http://spiderjamb.blogspot.com)

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