Today, I’m going to tell you about my favorite currently ongoing comic series, Chew. It’s a cop story. And a comedy. But not like any you’ve ever read before. The hero is Tony Chu, a cibopath who works a dangerous field agent job for the FDA. That’s right, the Food and Drug Administration. Oh, don’t know what a cibopath is? Didn’t know that the FDA had dangerous field agent jobs? Right. Let me explain.
The story takes place in the future, I think – or at least in an alternate version of our reality. As I mentioned, Tony is a cibopath, which is a very rare (though not entirely unique) trait – he is basically a food psychic. When he eats something, he can see its entire life history. If it’s an apple, for example, he can see the seed planted, the condition of the field, the tree growing, the apple picked, who picked it, the shipping process and where it was shipped, its life in the store, who bought it, etc. Everything up until the moment he puts it in his mouth. If he eats an animal, he can see it’s whole life and slaughter and preparation in the kitchen. Obviously, all of this can be overwhelming. Fortunately, he does have one respite – his cibopathery doesn’t work on beets. So Tony eats a lot of beets.
Tony’s primary work at the FDA is investigating the seedy underground world of chicken farming, smuggling, and selling. See, chicken is outlawed in the U.S. due to a worldwide bird flu, and the underground chicken movement is run by the mob and cartels and all sorts of other big-time criminals. Tony spends a lot of time busting in doors in chicken sting operations…and eating various disgusting things that his boss makes him taste to solve crimes. Like dead guys’ fingers.
The artwork is fun, the story is unusual and funny, the satire is fantastic, and there are actual mysteries to be unraveled in the plot. It’s cop story meets foodie obsession wrapped up in a pretty comic package. Tony Chu is really just a dork with a special gift that led him to law enforcement. He’s not exactly inept at his job, but you can tell that if he weren’t a cibopath, he’d be sitting at an IT desk somewhere. It makes him hugely likeable. When the monthly stack of comics comes in and David puts the ones I read on my nightstand, Chew is the first one I pick up. Highly recommended for mystery junkies, foodies, and people with a quirky sense of humor. If you’re all three, you’ll ADORE it.