“Hey, you like funny things! You should totally read this,” my cousin said to me one day as he rifled through his vast collection of comic books. They are basically his most prized possessions, and while some may think he’s a bit of an oddball, my cousin definitely knows what he’s talking about when it comes to this stuff, and he was dead on about this series; Chew is hilarious, in a demented kind of way, and I am starting to absolutely love it. I will admit, it’s the sort of thing that won’t appeal to everyone, as it gets a bit ludicrous and also very dirty and grotesque at times, but if you like the weird and wonderful in your graphic novels and comic series, then you will probably like this as well.
Volume 2, entitled International Flavor, follows our dear chibopath Tony Chu with a new partner at the FDA, who just so happens to be his old police-force partner, John Colby. John had previously been injured while on a job with Tony, and after having some serious reconstructive surgery, he now has a half-robotic face. John’s new robotic abilities, coupled with Tony’s ability to see the history of anything he ingests basically makes the two a new buddy-cop duo of “freaks” at the FDA, and Tony’s boss makes sure he puts them on any case that may involve Tony having to taste something especially disgusting (Sewage! Feces! Rotting corpses!).
While on their first assignment together, John and Tony inadvertently make a chicken bust, as chicken is still outlawed in many countries around the world, including America. When Tony tastes this “chicken,” however, he sees that it is not in fact chicken, but a fruit that tastes just like it from a tiny island called Yamapalu. Tony vows to find out what this fruit is, and takes an impulse trip to Yamapalu in order to learn more about it. On the way, he runs into his brother, who has been called to the island to become a new star chef at a high-end resort. It turns out that the leader of this small nation has some big ideas for his country, based on the new fruit that has been found. But his means of achievement greatness for his people isn’t going as smoothly as planned, and Tony can’t help but get himself mixed up in the mess.
Twists occur frequently in this volume, making the story clip along nicely, and making you want to keep reading to find out what happens next: I read the whole thing in one sitting, but considering how it’s not a long book, that really isn’t hard to do at all. The characters are bright and vivid, all with their own unique little abilities and personal characteristics. As for the artwork, it is very much on the cartoon-y side, but I really love the expressiveness of all the characters’ gestures. I want to say that it’s crisply drawn yet still feels very visceral, but that sounds… pretentious.
In any case, International Flavor may not be perfect or fitting to everyone’s tastes, but I found it to be extremely intriguing, cheeky, and right up my alley. Hopefully the series is able to keep up the fabulous momentum it has so far in it’s future installments: I definitely plan on reading more soon to find out.
[Be sure to check out more reviews on the Cannonball Read group blog]