It's the start of the year and John Layman and Rob Guillory are back in action with Chew #23, the Eisner-winning comic following the antics of Tony Chu, the not so secret Chibopath and his gang of misfit comrades in the bizarre. The fallout from Tony losing his job with the FDA is still falling into place, and his day is still going from bad to worse; he is, after all, being forced to eat rotting baseball players, and Agent Colby landed on his feet with the USDA, but not without stepping in some lion poop. I'm surprised they didn't make Colby get breast implants once he was transferred, you know, to fit in.
Chew is one of those comics you have to read several times each issue to appreciate the subtle things the creators add to each page. Throughout various times in this issue I saw everything from Perry the Platypus (Page 6) to Rosie O’Donnell (Page 21), all hiding in the background. And those are just two of the several I saw. Who knows how many more I saw but did not see (cue Kung Fu music). I even considered dedicating this entire review to finding those Easter eggs, but I figured Danny would just facepalm and send review back in. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Wait, I can send reviews back?!) Also, they squeeze in Charlie Sheen on page 22. Anyway, back to the story.
Colby seems to be going through exactly what Tony was going through when he joined the FDA; his boss hates him and quickly defers any good work from Colby to his cyborg — lion partner. Sound familiar? Well Colby isn't too use to not being liked so he does what he tends to do. Operation sleep with the boss. As an homage to when Agent C slept with their old FDA boss the issue ends with Colby curled up around a pillow and his boss staring at the ceiling in shock (see: Issue #9).
Layman once again delivers an excellently woven story, moving the plot along in a nice subtle manner. There is a certain deftness to the way he delivers over arching plot points in this issue; such as Colby finding out about Tony's missing daughter. We also get some backstory on Amelia's ex, and just what in the hell caused him to kidnap Tony. I'll give you a hint: it involves baseball and sex. Weird, kinky, circus clown sex. The guy is obsessed with it and he wants Tony to tell him all about it. I guess you can sympathize a little with the guy, after all Tony took his girlfriend. But in reality the guy had it coming.
Guillory's exaggerated style continues to be a draw of the series, giving your eyes something to chew on. These two work well together and, other than Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener of Atomic Robo, they are my favorite creative team in the industry right now. Guillory packs a ton of hidden laughs onto each page if you've got a keen enough eye to find it. He turns each issue into a game of eye finder.
Chew continues to be on my must-read list. Sure the comic drags at some points but almost every comic does nowadays. The universe these two have created continues to bring enjoyment and I don't foresee them jumping the shark. They have a firm grip on where they want this to go and they are pacing themselves like long distance runners from Kenya. Perhaps I'll dedicate next issue to finding every last hidden reference.
Dylan B. Tano is a relatively new reviewer powered by a love of bacon and constantly distracted by a kitten who would rather use his laptop as a bed. He grew up idolizing Spider-Man and can’t believe he gets to review comics all day.
You can read some of his short stories at tanoworks.tumblr.com