You are warned, here be spoilers.
In my review of Chew #3, I said the story was “not quite grabbing me”, but that I’d give it some more time. With issue #4, Chew has definitely made good on that chance.
The cover is fantastically designed; it’s evocative of a narrative scene, without spoiling the story. The inside cover has a nice, unobtrusive recap box (as did issue #3, now that I go back and check).
The opening page – a cramped, 4×4 spread – depicts Tony’s boss Applebee receiving a tip about a hit on Tony. Applebee spends a few panels blissfully imagining the hit on Tony, before the fantasy is soured by the thought of all the paperwork Tony’s death would incur. My cackling at this sequence drew strange looks on the bus.
The issue has Tony and his partner, Mason Savoy, following a clue up to an observatory somewhere above the arctic circle. Something terrible has happened there, and there are a few terrible things left waiting for them.
Chew has this bizarre stack of plots and metaplots going on that I can’t quite figure out. This issue is “part 4 of 5” of an arc called “Taster’s Choice”, but it’s got almost zero connection with the previous issues (I’ve read #1 and #3). The only common thread I can identify is “Tony’s early adventures with the FDA”, and that’s not really a plot. If that’s your only connection, you don’t bother with a name until you need an umbrella title for when the trade comes out. And this issue introduces… well. There are spoilers and there are spoilers.
No matter. I had great fun with this issue. Mason’s appearance and manner both remind me a lot of Major Hogan, Brian Cox‘s character in the early Sharpe movies – brash and involved, yet manipulative and mysterious, all in awesome sorts of ways. And Tony (whose last name is Chu, not Chiu as I mistakenly stated) is dependable as our plucky, determined hero. We also got to see interesting developments with Tony’s (and Mason’s, I discover) power, both mechanically and socially, during a run-in with a coroner (“‘Inspect’? Is that what you call it?”).
Guillory’s art is as apt as it was last issue. Characters have a thoroughly cartoony flexibility, yet they all feel real. Bodies have weight, and violence has impact.
All in all, a solid, compelling issue. It pulled me along smoothly, at once inviting me to dwell on a page and calling out for me to jump to the next.