Starve Issue #5
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Danijel Zezelj
Colors: Dave Stewart
October 7, 2015
Image Comics $3.50
The excitement from issue #4’s cliffhanger ending definitely continues in this issue, and Brian Wood and company make sure that things get kicked up a notch too, to borrow a phrase from Emeril Lagasse.
Wood begins the issue in media res, with the second part of the challenge, begun in issue #4, already one hour underway. Gavin stands toe-to-toe with Chef Iz, a former friend and owner of Master Paleo BBQ, the restaurant where Gavin must complete the challenge. The actual fight doesn’t take too long. As mentioned a little bit earlier, Gavin and Chef Iz have been “going at each other with lengths of PVC pipe” for about an hour, and we get the end of it, which only spans about four pages. But even though we only get four pages of the fight between Gavin and Iz, it’s enough. Showing only this much of the fight is a wise move on Wood’s part. Had he devoted more of this issue to the fight, it might have been interesting, but it also would have been way off topic for the book, which consists of Gavin and his relationships with his ex-wife, his daughter, and his show, Starve. Also, the reader should know that Gavin is going to win the fight and get into the kitchen. With the fight out of the way, the rest of the issue can be spent on character development, which is where the real story takes place.
It should be mentioned that when Gavin takes over the restaurant Wood uses this moment to take a nice little jab at hipsters in this issue. It’s probably the funniest moment in this issue. Now back to the rest.
Though it may be difficult to believe, Gavin becomes am even fuller character in this issue. Where Gavin was the single-minded hero ready to take back his show and repair the strained relationship with his daughter in the series so far, in this issue, he begins showing some self-awareness. Just before he begins to cook, Gavin tells the other chefs on his team that he’s going to figure out what it was that he did to “make people who used to love [him] hate [his] guts.” Also, towards the end of the issue, he admits that he f—ed over his ex-wife. It really adds a lot of depth to Gavin’s character. While getting back his show will still probably be his main impetus until the end of the series, his acknowledgement that his actions have something to do with the situation he’s in moves him away from the stereotypical vengeful characters that seem to have suffused throughout comics. It really sets him apart from the pack and makes this that much more of a unique book.
Wood also spends a nice bit of time developing Angie and Sheldon in this issue as well. Her story picks up from where it left off in the previous issue, which ended with here sitting on her bed with a pensive look on her face. This issue, she has moved from her bed and is in a bar with a friend, voicing all of her doubts and fears about her relationships with her mother and father. The surprising thing about this is that her confidant is Sheldon, the network exec who brings Gavin back into the world in the first issue and becomes his de facto Sancho Panza. (He’s really a likeable character, and I hope there’s more of him in future issues.) One of the interesting things to note about the four-page exchange between the two of them is that Dave Stewart renders it in reds and blues. This denotes the hot and cold feelings that Angie has towards each of her parents, but it also may be a hint at a burgeoning relationship between Angie and Sheldon, which could make for an interesting storyline. We’ll have to wait for future issues to see if anything comes up between these two.
We also get a nice bit of character development with Roman Algiers, the host of Starve, the television series. Where he has just been something of a talking head and flat nemesis for Gavin in previous issues, in this issue, we start to get to know who he is. Tired of being a stooge in Greer’s war against Gavin, Roman admits that he hates hosting the show, and winds up quitting. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily means he becomes an out-and-out ally of Gavin’s. He admits that he’s still looking to take Gavin down, but on chefs’ terms, not Greer’s. This little bit takes place on pages that Stewart has rendered green, denoting the envy Roman feels towards Gavin. So we know that the two of them are still probably far off from becoming friends once again. At best, they become friendly, mutually-respectful rivals. Although, part of me suspects that this may be a ruse of some kind on Roman’s part, but either way, it should also make for some good storylines further on in the series.
Greer doesn’t get too much page time in this issue, but when she manages to steal the show. I won’t spoil it for you, in case you haven’t read the issue yet, but I will say that she tries to get to the heart of her problems with Gavin.
As always Danijel Zezelj provides some amazing artwork for this issue. A favorite picture of mine is page 9. Gavin stands with his cell phone in one hand and a bloody cleaver in the other, while bisected animal carcasses hang behind him. A simple phrase comes from his mouth, but the whole image hints at his feelings over the picture he just received of Angie and Sheldon together. Yes, at the end of the issue, Gavin basically says that the two of them are adults, which implies that Angie can do whatever she wants. However, that little exchange is far outweighed by the power of that image of Gavin with the cleaver. It kind of implies that things may not bode well for Sheldon in future issues, which brings me to the last point I want to make about this issue.
The one problem that I have with Starve #5 is the teaser for when issue #6 comes out. It doesn’t come out until February! That’s two months without Starve!! Sure the trade comes out between now and then, but I’ve already read those issues. I need more new stories! I hope that this is the result of an oversight on someone’s part and that it never happens again!
But in all seriousness, a couple of months isn’t too bad. If Wood, Zezelj, and Stewart need the time to recharge before they come back with more great stories, I can’t really begrudge them that, as long as it stays only a couple of months and doesn’t become years with no new issue in sight.