Written & Lettered by: John Layman
Drawn & Coloured by: Dan Boultwood
Chew was a staple of Image comics for around eight years, or sixty issues however you feel like counting it. Four years after the series concluded, writer John Layman brought us a spinoff series by the name of Chu, the first trade of which I’m writing about here.
Chew followed the story of Tony Chu a police detective turned FDA agent in the midst of a global bird flu pandemic leading to the ban of all chicken based products – oh he also has the ability to get a psychic impression from anything he eats. However, Chu follows the story of Tony’s younger sister Saffron, a criminal with the ability to learn secrets from anyone she shares a meal with.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with Chu, I’ve read it’s predecessor and I’m a huge fan of the series, and I’m pleased to say that The First Course is a welcome addition to the universe, while being independent enough to not rely on an existing knowledge of this ludicrous universe, which is good as I’ve not really revisited Chew since it concluded. I ended up reading this entire volume in one sitting. Saffron is a great protagonist and would be a great criminal if it wasn’t for the fact that the aforementioned bird flu is lurking in the wings to get in her way.
An expertly planned heist falls apart almost immediately after the majority of the team makes the mistake of eating some tainted chicken, with only Saffron and her boyfriend Eddie making it out unharmed. But now they find themselves out of the frying pan and into the fire as a hit is put out on them by the man they were attempting to rob. Naturally chaos ensues.
Honestly I don’t want to give too much away, Chu makes for a really fun read, showcasing John Layman’s sense of humour and the wonderfully weird world he and Rob Guillory created over ten years ago.
Dan Boultwood takes on art duties for Chu and while there’s a noticeable difference from what’s come beforehand the same loose cartooning feel remains, with enough background jokes and references to keep a returning Chew fan entertained. John Layman’s writing is as great as ever and I think the decision to set this series slightly before Chew makes for an interesting prequel that can give us a look at some characters we know without retreading old ground.
Ultimately Chu shares the world of Chew and some of it’s characters in a really interesting way, providing a jumping on point or standalone story for new readers, but also adding more layers to an already complex world.