I mentioned last issue about how amazing John Layman’s been at balancing the humor and drama of CHEW and that remains true this issue, despite the fact that the drama is much, much more prevalent than the humor. Really just a few pages could even be classified as humorous, some of which are still tinged with a kind of comedic sorrow, but the issue overall starts from a place of desperation, gets to a calm and then erupts into another, more low-key storm. A low-key storm may sound odd, but fans of the series will know exactly what I mean after the last page. After last issue’s attack on the Cibopath Vampire went about as awry as it possibly could have, Tony is furious with his friend and partner for not only going in when Chu suggested it was a bad idea, but for dragging Chu’s daughter into it. We also get a huge pay-off on a seemingly forgotten character in Director Sharma, which also helps explain how things were spared from going much, much worse. It’s a good payoff that results in some great, absurd action.
Rob Guillory is on art, bringing his unique, cartoonish, over-the-top style to another issue of this book, and infusing it with a life and feel all its own. The background jokes alone could fill up its own supplemental book to say nothing of astronauts riding to the rescue, the implication of a murderous Kool-Aid Man, there’s simply too much amazing stuff to cover in one paragraph. This is not a subtle issue by any stretch, it’s a book that trades in big moments with big emotions and Guillory’s art communicates them perfectly. A lot of the confrontations that happen here have been building for a long, long time and seeing them, only figuratively this time, explode across the panels and pages is both tragic and extremely satisfying.
Despite my immense enjoyment of it, I felt conflicted about where last issue left things and some of that conflict/suspicion was confirmed in this issue: things didn’t seismically shift as much as they at first appeared. The saving grace was that the deus ex machina used wasn’t entirely out of nowhere and was relevant to past plot points.
We also get a tri-fold Poyo poster at the cover, which is great in and of itself, but the killer chicken with a heart of steel doesn’t appear until the last few pages of the issue. The poster also raised the pricetag to $3.50, but frankly that’s small potatoes for what you get and didn’t affect the score.
Between the emotional turmoil and the shakeups on that level, the cool poster and the always-amazing art, this is a worthwhile conclusion to a story arc that also leaves at least one enormous question mark for next arc to tackle. The conclusion is at once shocking and heartbreaking, moreso for the fact that it may be over a month before we get any kind of resolution to it. While last issue may have had some of the potency taken out, it dosen’t fully invalidate it as there are still incredible consequences to it and there’s plenty to look forward to with whatever happens next.