John Layman's bizarre sci-fi alternate universe comedy has taken few dramatic turns in recent issues with some amazing plot developments that have shaken the core cast to their foundations. But I'm always amazed at the book's ability to not lose its grinning concept, even in the face of some very grim, brutal events. This issue, even more than the previous, takes us on a trip down the path of still another cibopath (supernatural psychics with very different reactions and interactions with food) who definitely has a...unique ability. Tony's ever-disgruntled brother Chow enlists his brother in another scheme that should be about justice, but, of course, is more about petty revenge. We even get a glimpse into the past of the Chu family that, once again, balances delightful comedy with some legitimate heartache. We also get to see the (sort of) return of Tony's sister (Toni, of course) in one of the most unique uses of a superpower I've encountered since Madrox became a jack of literally all trades.
Rob Guillory has had an absolutely stellar run on this title. I can't believe how amazing his art started, how stable and steady it's remained, and how the book still comes out on time. The cartoonish characters allow for hilarious overreactions that seem in keeping with a universe and surreal and delightful as this one. Guillory does character reactions and body language so well that he actually creates the illusion of motion within panels as well as between them, and he adds SO MUCH to the comedy in doing so. There's also plenty of gut-wrenching imagery, because what would an issue of Chew be if it was easy to read over lunch?
There's a twist at the end of the issue that comes VERY out of left field and feels somewhat unearned. Maybe there were hints sprinkled throughout the run, but I didn't pick up on them and it's also a twist I'm not sure deserves the gravitas it's given in the moment. There are a couple of very major plot points introduced in the middle of the series run that I feel like haven't been touched on or hinted at in a very long time (the writing in the sky and the apocalypse chicken cult, most notably), or if they have, haven't been given very much front-and-center treatment. I'm hoping they tie back together because they were some of the most interesting parts of their storylines.
Chew remains one of the biggest treats on the shelf and a book that, at only seven volumes, is actually very easy to jump into. The tonal shifts have been interesting to see, and I've always admired how a book like this can slalom between legitimate drama and hysterical laughter, but Chew manages to balance it masterfully every time. It never feels disingenuous nor out of place, and this issue maintains that balancing act to a tee.