Chew, Vol. 1: Taster's Choice by John Layman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’m not entirely new to this series, but I’m mostly new. I have a friend who’s a fan of the series, and I’d thumbed through the first two or three issues. Recent discussion on Google Buzz mentioned that Showtime had PICKED UP THE SCRIPT to Chew to possibly turn into a television show. From what I’d read of the series and discussed with my friend, this actually seems like the perfect series to adapt to television.
It’s full of dark, dry humor and its morbidity is in the same vein as Dexter while being something different from what’s already on television. It doesn’t have many elements that might make it an overpriced choice, and being that it’s Showtime, fans won’t have to worry about them trying to tone down the things that make it work.
So, I decided to pick up the comics and start getting a better feel of the characters and their world. The story revolves around Tony Chu, an ex-cop who now works for the FDA. Tony is a cibopath. That means he gets psychic impressions from anything he eats—except beets. He lives in a world where the FDA is now running things after a severe case of avian flu killed millions of people. Because of this, chicken is banned, replaced by a chicken substitute while the real thing is considered a black market commodity. Tony is recruited—but not entirely by choice—by the FDA after using his “gift” to bust a serial killer. They want him to use this same gift to help their special crimes division. And this is where Tony’s adventures really begin.
I don’t know what to say about my official introduction to this series without rambling on or spoiling it for other readers. I really like the cast of characters that I’ve met so far. Tony comes off capable, straight-laced, if not a little bumbling at times. You can tell he has the best of intentions and believes in following the rules faithfully. Tony’s new partner, Mason Savoy, is wordy, distinguished, a bit shady, and a man of many surprises. He’s helping the inexperienced Tony learn the ropes and learn to deal with their overbearing boss, Mike Applebee, who already has it out for Tony.
Tony’s love interest is introduced early, but it’s not instant love for her at least. Tony is taken by a food critic named Amelia Mintz, a saboscrivner, who can write about food so accurately she can give people the sensation that they’re actually tasting it. For the first time, through her writing, Tony is able to “taste” food without getting any psychic impressions. In his mind, he’s smooth and suave with her. In reality, he’s a mumbling mess where she’s concerned, a quality that adds even more to his likability. Tony’s brother, a disgraced chef, also makes a couple of brief appearances.
The premise of the series sounds a bit bizarre, but the story is well-written and fast paced. You’re not overwhelmed with information about this new world. It’s presented to you in bites (no pun intended). I found by the third part that I was totally immersed in this story and really laughing out loud at some of their antics. I have to applaud the writer for creating this imaginative world where food plays such an integral role right down the name of every character—both major and minor—in the series so far.
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