TL;DR – Tony gets kidnapped by a crazed sports writer, who wants to use his psychic food powers to obtain the histories of famous baseball players… famous (dead) baseball players. Given he achieves psychic impressions of the past only from items he eats, you know this is not going to be a pleasant.
Summary (warning: spoilers)
Go to my book reviews page to see what has happened in previous volumes of this award winning graphic novel series. Volume Five focuses on Tony Chu, his working partner, John Colby, and his estranged daughter, Olive.
Tony and John have been fired from the FDA and are assigned new jobs. Tony ends up in Traffic division riding a motorised scooter dressed in what looks like a Scottish bagpipe outfit and issuing parking tickets. What starts off as anger and reticence in what he perceives is a demeaning role turns out that he can still uncover crimes and make a significant positive difference. This leads to his new boss in Traffic division lauding him a hero and making Tony realise it helps working in an office where he actually gets along with his team (at the FDA, his boss made his life a living hell).
On the flip-side, John is assigned to the USDA; an all female government agency where agents are partnered with cybernetic-enhanced animals. Every agent seems to hate men, so when John ends up working in their agency, he is an immediate outcast. His boss, Director Penya, makes his life a living hell (similar to how Tony was treated by his former FDA boss) but unlike Tony (who put up with the hate), John takes action by sleeping with her resulting in some hilarious consequences.
Meanwhile, Olive has partnered up with the infamous Mason Savoy. She is unaware of the previous fall out between Savoy and Tony. Together with Caesar, they continue to hunt down individuals with food-related powers. One such individual is Hershel Brown, a fugitive that has the power to sculpt chocolate into any item and mimic the exact properties of that item (e.g. he can carve a machine gun out of chocolate and it will work like a real machine gun).
Tony’s elevated joy at the Traffic division is short-lived when he is ambushed and kidnapped by Dan Franks. Dan works as a sports-writer at the Mercury Sun, the same media outlet where Amelia Mintz works (Tony’s girlfriend). Dan used to date Amelia but she broke up with him, and he has been scoping out Tony for sometime. His true motives revealed in this volume.
Chew Major League is as brutal and gripping as all the previous volumes. Both story and artwork move at a pace that makes you want to turn each page as quickly as possible, but this would be a mistake as you will miss on the small details that often hint to what will happen in future volumes. Being a graphic novel, the story is told through both words and art, so the need to take your time and absorb each panel is worthwhile and a testament to what Layman and Guillory have created.
Seeing Olive’s character unfold and her food-powers develop opens up a world of possibilities of where the story will go. And John’s exile to the USDA and his desperate attempts to get a hold of Tony (who he doesn’t know has been kidnapped) is hilarious yet he still manages to do his job uncovering a counterfeiting ring responsible for creating life-like cash notes made out of vegetables.
But this volume is really all about Tony. The purpose of his kidnapping surrounds Dan’s belief that famous baseball players have sordid stories and skeletons in the closet that would allow Dan to write a killer book titled ‘Superstar Sluggers’ Untold Sex Tales’. Tony is force fed the corpses of deceased baseball players and while he receives the images and histories of them, none of them have anything sordid to tell. So, he makes up tales in order to buy time.
In the end, it’s Amelia who comes to the rescue when she becomes suspicious of her boyfriend’s absence. Her own investigative skills come to the forefront in locating Tony. She almost doesn’t succeed but Tony (having consumed a number of famous deceased baseball players) uses newly acquired baseball skills to stop Dan. It’s all pretty ghastly but will still keep you glued to the page. As Tony collapses into Amelia’s arms having been bashed and beaten by his captors previously, she calls for an ambulance and Tony is rushed to hospital.
I cannot get my hands on the next volume quick enough.
4.5 out of 5.