CHEW Vol 2: INTERNATIONAL FLAVOUR
Written & lettered by John Layman
Drawn and coloured by Rob Guillory
International Flavour opens with a strange one page prologue of a resort being built on an island and the construction workers finding a very strange fruit. Layman does this constantly throughout the story in that he’ll open issues with prologues that give short stabs of information and only need to be an aside not a complete scene of pages. It’s an effective way to quickly take the reader from the main part of the story into a sub-section that they need to quickly absorb, and then we go back to the scheduled programming. And the main story is definitely still Tony Chu.
Tony has been shown his new partner, which is also the old partner he almost got killed in the previous arc, John Colby. Layman and Guillory give us a great page that recaps this character in an effective and yet fun way. The page layout and density of narrative captions give us a lot but almost feel like a set of still frames in a movie while the voice over man tells you how awesome this guy is. It’s a very cool way to keep the storyline chugging along and yet have us like the character and know them really well. And Colby is a pretty cool character; he’s a bit of a dick, and he’s now got a cybernetic face which includes all sorts of high-tech gadgets, as we slowly find out.
One of the strongest qualities of this trade is that it would stand alone pretty well. Anything you need to truly know about the story before is given to you within the story and otherwise you can come in, sit down, and you’re caught up. That a great way to structure the arcs of this title though I feel that by maybe the third or fourth arc things will be a little bit more longform.
Guillory’s artwork just completely makes me smile in absolutely every panel. His characters are quirky and individual looking and feel like something I can’t really get from many other comics on the shelves, if any. Guillory knows how to make the action look dynamic, but he also does a good talking head page as he makes the players act with emotion and timing. He’s not the usual comic style, these aren’t a bunch of broad shouldered and buff dudes but rather usual looking blokes with actual clothes instead of just painted skin. It’s refreshing to see this drawn in such an interesting style.
Verdict – Must Read. It says a lot about the story when the artist name checks LOST and the movie Commando in his dedication (and there’s a great Easter Egg of a toe tag that reads Jeremy Bentham that you have to track down). That should give you some idea of the disparate concepts you’ll be served up here. Given the intricate nature of plotting, and the ability to cram as much into each plot line as can be logically followed, matched with the quirky and awesome art of Guillory I now start to feel like Chew is the natural successor within Image to Casanova. Chew is actually quite dense, if you take it all in, and it takes chances and liberties with the comic form. It might not be quite as lofty aimed as Fraction’s now Icon delivered title but it’s certainly in that ballpark. And coming from me that means you need to check it out. International Flavour is a hell of a lot of fun, and Chew is a comic that I think way more people should be investing in.
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