TL;DR – Tony Chu, government agent and resident Cibopath (i.e. he gets psychic impressions of whatever he eats), finds himself journeying to a strange, tropical island where there is a fruit that tastes like chicken.
Chew (Volume One) book review provides introduction and background to the world of Chew. Volume Two follows agent Tony Chu to the island of Yamapalu where he hunts down clues in relation to a fruit called gallsaberry that looks like a cross between a pineapple and an octopus and tastes exactly like chicken when cooked. In the process he crosses paths with a covert operative named Lin Sae Woo who is hunting down an international mass murderer; uncovers a gambling ring involving cockfighting and a rooster named Poyo; stumbles into a business turf war over chicken substitutes between a rich Texan named Ray Jack Montero who is looking to scientifically modify frogs to taste even more like chicken and the Yamapalu governor seeking to sell gallasberry to the world and put his island on the map; and saves his brother chef Chow Chu and journalist Amelia Mintz who get caught in the crossfire.
So much goes on in this graphic novel, both from the story written by John Layman and the art drawn by Rob Guillory that readers will enjoy going over Chew more than once. It’s always a sign of a great graphic novel when I revisit its pages and take in more details that I missed on previous readings.
As with the first volume, multiple threads develop. Some get tied off, while others are slowly being interwoven. The underlying mysteries indicating that the scope spans further than the boundaries of Earth.
What further draws me into the world of Chew are the individuals that exhibit culinary powers beyond the senses of smell and taste.
There are the three Cibopaths, individuals that receive images of the origins of what they eat. The first is our by-the-book and main character, Tony Chu, who finds himself having to bite into all manner of unsavoury things.
Next is the man of rhetoric and preamble, Mason Savoy, who has become Tony’s enemy. Sadly, Savoy does not make an appearance in Volume Two.
And lastly, the mysterious Serbian who pretends to be a vampire but is really a serial killer and targets other individuals that have culinary powers to try and absorb them through cannibalism.
Next there are Saboscrivners, individuals who can write down what they eat with such realism that whoever reads their words can taste the food also. Love interest, Amelia Mintz, is a Saboscrivner and is thrown into harm’s way in Volume Two much to Tony’s distress.
And then there’s Cibolocutors who can communicate written works (such as Shakespeare) and their own speech through food. The Great Fantanyeros is a Cibolocutor who becomes a target of the Vampire.
After reading Volume Two, I cannot help think that the reasons these people exist is tied to the mystery behind the ‘avian flu’ that wiped out millions of people and resulted in the global poultry prohibition. I’m eager to find out in future volumes if this is true.
Do yourself a favour, and take a bite into this fabulous graphic novel creation. I’m rating this half a point lower than Volume One only because my favourite character, Mason Savoy, is absent. He’s a terrific antagonist and was sorely missed. However, I’ve seen the cover for Volume Three and it’s clear that Savoy comes back!
4 out of 5.