Book Review: Chew (Volume Ten) “Blood Puddin'” by John Layman and Rob Guillory

TL;DR – Finally revealed what Tony’s twin sister whispered into his ear in order to give Tony the key to defeating The Vampire.

Summary (warning: spoilers)

Go to my book reviews page to see what has happened in previous volumes of this award winning graphic novel series.

John Colby’s attempts at reconciliation with his partner, Tony Chu, go bust. Tony still blames John for working with wanted fugitive Mason Savoy and roping in his daughter Olive to try and take down The Vampire. The casualties were high in the last volume, and Tony is holding onto a lot of anger.

Tony ends up working with D-Bear who reveals he has some intelligence beneath that giant Afro as they bust a couple of food-powered baddies. But these are side stories for the main one, which sees Savoy and Olive awaken in hospital and escape to hunt down the location of The Vampire once more. And this time they have Tony’s wife, Amelia, in tow.

It takes OIive’s words to strike home how much Tony has failed her as a father, going so far as to say that Savoy has taught her more and been more of a father than Tony ever has been. This makes Tony realise how important relationships are in his life, and he seeks to be better not only towards Olive but also John.

When it is finally revealed how Tony can defeat The Vampire, Tony and John have been on the same page all along. The key to The Vampire’s defeat is to eat Poyo the rooster; the greatest crime fighting rooster in the history of all roosters (and humankind).

Oh, and Mike Applebee and Caesar Valenzano, who both looked like they were on death’s door after the failed assault on The Vampire, get turned into a robotic centaur and man with a cyborg lobster claw respectively. Great stuff!

Review

Cibopaths are individuals who have the strange power to know the origins of anything they eat. For example, if they eat an apple, they know what tree the apple came from and where it grew. If they eat a steak, they get all the gruesome details of how the cow died in order to become a steak. Further, cibopaths can acquire the strengths and abilities of those things they consume. So, if they go so far as taking enough bites out of a person who has other food-related powers, then the cibopath will acquire that other food-related power also.

There are four known cibopaths: Tony Chu, Mason Savoy, Olive Chu and The Vampire. Of the four, The Vampire is the primary antagonist of the Chew series. He has been hunting down every person with food-related powers, all around the world, to kill and consume them in order to acquire a new power.

The Vampire is responsible for the murder of Tony’s sister, Toni Chu (who had the food-related power to see into the future of those she takes a bite out of). Toni left a piece of her toe for her brother to consume, so she could communicate to him (by him eating her toe) after she gets murdered. In that exchange, she whispered something into Tony’s ear telling him how to defeat The Vampire, but we don’t get to see what she said until this volume.

And now, it all makes sense.

The last volume (Vol Nine) saw the shocking end of Poyo the killer rooster. John Layman has done something very clever. Poyo has been a recurring character since the beginning, and while integral in demonstrating the ongoing ‘food-related theme’ of the series and showing Poyo is the baddest and most deadly of all poultry-related creatures, he was presented as a side character in following volumes. In fact, his appearance was usually in a two-page spread that gave artist, Rob Guillory, the freedom to go crazy showing Poyo fighting against some super food-powered monster. The two-page spread was often a ‘Street Fighter’ style depiction that would look cool on a poster, but it always felt like a strange side-bar in the Chew series.

So, you can imagine my surprise when Poyo had his neck broken, not by a super food-powered monster, but by John Colby. The fact that they are both on the same team, looking to stop The Vampire and solve food-powered murders, allows John to get close enough to Poyo and unexpectedly breaking the poor bird’s neck. The subsequent confusion (and ending of volume nine) was both brilliant and agonising as I had to grab the next volume post haste.

And like I said, it now makes sense. John realises that the only way Tony can stop The Vampire is to acquire all the fighting knowledge, anger, skill and downright bad-ass attitude of Poyo by eating the bird. But, initially, Tony doesn’t want to hear anything John has to say after Colby’s failed incursion on The Vampire’s compound led to Olive badly hurt and in hospital.

After much butting of heads, the pair finally come together and reveal what the other doesn’t realise they already know. Tony reveals his sister told him to eat Poyo, and John reveals his belief that the only way to stop The Vampire is to eat Poyo. The moment is both funny and marvelously well-timed.

Thus, Tony fulfills his destiny and kills The Vampire. The confrontation is action packed and clever as Tony ends up killing The Vampire the same way The Vampire killed Tony’s sister, by breaking his neck. The Vampire believes, however, he has the last laugh as he thinks Tony will take a few bites out of him to acquire all of The Vampire’s collected food-related power. The Vampire conveying mirth at the idea that he will live on in Tony, but to his surprise, Tony says he doesn’t want any of those powers and finishes his arch nemesis off.

But the series is not over. There is still much that is unresolved including the alien fire writing in the sky, the mystery of the avian flu, the origins of the individuals who have acquired food-related powers and the space fruit known as Gallsaberry, which tastes like chicken.

And in the epilogue on the final page of Volume Ten, we inexplicably see Amelia (Tony’s wife) dying (or dead?) in his arms. What? Why? Who? How?

Layman and Guillory are not holding anything back. Riveting stuff from first page to last.

5 out of 5.

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