Review: "Chew" Continues Its Winning Streak With Vampires & Dismemberment

Review: "Chew" Continues Its Winning Streak With Vampires & Dismemberment

In a tight economy, it's not always clear what you should spend your hard-earned money on, and with comic books getting more and more expensive, your dollar doesn’t go as far at the comic shop as it did in the past. We here at Complex feel your pain, so we're providing you with a rundown of the best comics coming out on October 17, 2012.

Chew #29

What it’s about: He looks completely unassuming to most people, but Tony Chu has one thing that makes him stand out from the other agents at the F.D.A.: He’s a cibopath. This means that he can get a psychic impression from anything that he eats. For instance, if Tony enjoys a nice steak, he gets an image in his head of who slaughtered the cow and when. This makes him indispensable as a detective; unfortunately, he also has to ingest his fair share of foul items to get to the bottom of a case.

What to expect this month: Once again, writer John Layman provides another issue that makes us realize why we’ve stated repeatedly that this is one of the best books on the shelf. In this issue, Agents Colby, Caesar, and Antonelle (Toni) Chu try to get to the bottom of a case that involves a woman who creates organic food-based face masks that can completely change a person’s appearance. Which, in typical Chew fashion, somehow leads to a conspiracy involving undead bloodsuckers and hacked-up corpses. And all this happens as Tony remains in the hospital, again proving that a supporting cast can indeed carry a book. 

As usual, Layman and artist Rob Guillory pack the story with so much humor that it’s impossible to soak it all in during one reading. The ongoing saga of Toni and Paneer, Caesar’s drunken flashbacks, and a brief appearance by Agent Poyo are all dementedly absurd highlights that showcase the unrelenting humor of these creators.

As the sight gags keep us occupied, Layman and Guillory also bring an underlying narrative that keeps this book from becoming a series of pointless non-sequiturs and jokes. In a week when Marvel is readying Marvel NOW and DC is still plugging the New 52, Chew proves that you don't need million-dollar marketing ploys to bring the goods.

B.P.R.D. 1948 #1

What it’s about: The brilliant thing about Dark Horse’s B.P.R.D. franchise is that each new miniseries stands on its own legs without forcing readers to memorize years of back story. That’s exactly why 1948is such a strong read from beginning to end.

The story takes us back to the days immediately after WWII, when total nuclear annihilation was the background noise of everyday life, and it's such a clean, concise read that any fan with a remote interest in these characters should find it satisfying.

Here, readers see a young Professor Bruttenholm investigating the case of a mysterious creature that has attacked a nuclear testing range in Utah. Along with a young doctor named Anna Rieu, he begins to worry that all of this nuclear testing has unleashed something unholy on the world.

Writers Mike Mignola and John Arcudi again manage to recapture the book's quirky, sci-fi tone, despite this being a flashback. The storytellers are expertly aided by the art of Max Fiumara, who provides a realistic depiction of the 1940s, not a nostalgic one. The details in all of his panels are simply stunning, and the facial expressions he crafts could tell the story seamlessly without word balloons. His work on the younger version of Hellboy is particularly memorable, as Mignola and Arcdui craft a really great scene between him and another B.P.R.D agent. Here's to this version of Hellboy getting his own miniseries in the future.

As the main B.P.R.D. book focuses on The Return of the Master, this offshoot title is perfect for longtime B.P.R.D. followers and people looking to start following the franchise.

The Victories #3

What it’s about: In Michael Avon Oeming’s The Victories, a group of heroes from all walks of life band together to save their city from the violence, drugs, and corruption that have overrun it. Mainly, though, the book focuses on one hero in particular: Faustus. The masked vigilante is an emotional powder keg waiting to erupt at any time. He’s a moody alcoholic with tons of guilt and baggage. And that type of inner turmoil is always the recipe for a good read.

What to expect this month: The Victories continues as Faustus is tasked by one of his teammates to find his drug-addicted brother. Complicating matters, The Jackal has escaped from prison and just recently acquired all of Faustus’ secrets. The story here is dark and brutal as Oeming brings a little dystopian violence back to the superhero genre. It’s a blood-soaked fairytale with some seriously twisted characters and absolutely stunning art that Oeming delivers on every page.

The mood is perfect as pounding rain, and heavy shadows cover this grim metropolis in a way that's reminiscent of the mature hero comics from the ‘80s. The characters aren’t the bright corporate mascots that we’re accustomed to—they have flaws and demons that seem impossible to exorcise.

The Victories isn’t Shakespeare, and it certainly isn’t Watchmen, but fans looking for something a bit more unfiltered out of their superhero reading diet should give this a shot.

No Place Like Home #5

What it’s about: To put it in the simplest way possible: No Place Like Home is basically The Wizard of Ozif told by Stephen King.

Writer Angelo Tirotto has taken a story that savvy pop culture junkies are all way too familiar with and given it a dark, twisted makeover that turns Dorothy into a goth brat and the flying army of monkeys into some of the most hideous things to hit comics since Jeph Loeb’s ill-fated run on Wolverine. It completely skewers everything that Frank L. Baum created over a century ago; fortunately, it’s also a loving homage.

What to expect this month: After a long wait, No Place Like Home is finally back. Readers are thrown headfirst into the sickening world that Tirotto established during the first five issues. This entire chapter deals with a crazed flying monkey attacking the town while trying to get to Dee.

Get ready for a charmingly excessive amount of decapitations and lost limbs. And, just for good measure, an entire school bus full of young children goes up in flames. Also, Dee’s friend, Liz, goes headfirst into the mysterious realm of Oz, only to be confronted by a wicked witch that's about as foul as HBO after hours.

This book is for your inner sadist, especially when it comes to Richard Jordan's energetic yet brutal artwork. Every moment is captured with ghastly detail that just elevates Tirotto’s scripts even more. Seriously, this book is flying under the radar a bit too much for our liking.

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Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)

Tags: image-comics, dark-horse-comics, chew, john-layman, comic-books, bprd, mike-mignola, hellboy
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