Review: "Chew" Pulls Off One Of The Most Shocking Twists Of The Year

Plus, Fatale finishes a strong story arc and BPRD: Return of the Master gears up for the finale.

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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 November 28, 2012.

Chew #30

What it’s about: He may be unremarkable on the outside, but Tony Chu does have one thing that makes him stand out from the other agents at the F.D.A.: He’s a cibopath. Meaning, Chu can get a psychic impression from anything that he eats. For instance, if he enjoys a nice steak, he gets an image in his head of who slaughtered the cow and when. This makes Chu indispensable as a detective, even if he has to solve most of the murders he encounters by doing a little corpse munching.

What to expect this month: As usual, writer John Layman manages to up the violence, gore, and sadistic humor for this issue of Chew. Adn the process, he's delivered one of the most genuinely surprising installments of the series yet. For starters, there's a huge death right in the middle of the story that comes completely out of nowhere. Yet, in typical Chew fashion, it's so sadistically twisted that you don’t know whether to laugh or be completely stunned. No spoilers here, though.

It's strange because the “Space Cakes” storyline has been so funny and cartoonish up until this point that the events here are simply jarring. Bookending this shocking twist is trademark Chew humor that is pulled off to perfection, especially at the beginning with Toni Chu’s wedding to Paneer. There isn’t a page with a safe landing spot on it; you’ll either find yourself chuckling uncontrollably or distraught with each new panel.

Speaking of which, artist Rob Guillory provides some of his best work on the series yet. Grisly, violent imagery is nicely counterbalanced with slapstick humor and gross out moments, but what separates this issue from others are his full page and double page spreads. They bring a scope to the book that opens up the story. One spoilerific moment comes to mind. Trust us, you’ll know it when you see it.

Cheap deaths are often used as publicity devices to boost the sales of lesser comics, so this one coming out of nowhere reminds us that Chew doesn’t need hyperbolic marketing or PR schemes to establish itself as one of the freshest reads on the market.

Fatale #10

What it’s about: Part noir and part horror, Fatale marks writer Ed Brubaker’s (Captain America) return to indie comics, and it's been impressive so far. Following the exploits of a seemingly-immortal woman named Josephine, this title is a decade-spanning mystery that deals with crime, the occult, and the mysterious allure of an undeniable vixen. And while the story has been a slow burn at points, it’s been completely worth it so far.

What to expect this month: Fatale finally takes off the kid gloves and gives us the action and bloodshed that we’ve been craving. It’s all-out war as Miles and Rat must protect Josephine from the Method Church, which has made its way to her house. Everything has been leading to this point and Brubaker doesn’t let us down. There's no real plot to speak of as this issue just focuses on mayhem. And in the end, lives are lost and the mystery of Josephine grows ever deeper.

Brubaker does manage to squeeze in some good characterization along the way, especially in the dynamic between Jo and Miles, which is at its best here. This is tragedy, romance, and horror all wrapped in one gruesome package, and this payoff should satisfy any follower of the book. There's also a nice epilogue to this current story arc that points to some very interesting stuff in the future.

This action-oriented issue really benefits artist Sean Phillips, who finally gets to show off a bit after spending so much time just illustrating talking head scenes. The violence is pulled off nicely and his storytelling ability is crisp and easy to follow. But it’s the heavily-shaded atmosphere that he brings which makes it all work out so well.

It's unclear where Fatale will go from here. One thing's for sure, though: This story arc was a marked improvement over the last. And if Brubaker continues to move in this direction, expect Fatale to become an even bigger hit than it is now.

BPRD: Return of the Master #4

What it’s about: After the death of Hellboy, the disappearance of Liz Sherman, and the coma that Abe Sapien is currently in, the B.P.R.D. finds itself recruiting more traditional agents in order to fight off international paranormal threats. One of its biggest challenges is the psychotic cult leader, Lazar, who has called on an army of trolls to destroy agents from his stronghold. As this is happening, a band of Nazi scientists are attempting to revive The Master, a. k. a. Rasputin, to unleash hell on Earth.

What to expect this month: Seriously, this book features crazed cults, Nazis, trolls, and Russian mystics. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you then you’re probably reading the wrong article. All hell breaks loose here as the B.P.R.D. agents have to fight off Lazar’s army of trolls, which have begun re-spawning instantly after death. Lttle do they know how close the Nazis are to bringing back Rasputin, in a plot that just keeps bubbling away in the background.

These plots are balanced expertly by John Arcudi and Mike Mignola, who deserve major props for making B.P.R.D. the best team book in comics. The action here has real stakes as you feel either of these villainous forces could destroy the planet with ease. As the villains seem to have the upper hand, the B.P.R.D. can’t get out of its own way. They squabble and complain at all times, even as their very existence is on the precipice of being wiped out.

Aiding the story is Tyler Crook's art, who once again executes that signature B.P.R.D. All of his creature designs and action scenes are pulled off well, and he even manages to makes conversational scenes engaging. But it’s his big reveal at the end that is the issue’s highlight. Just know that it’s one of the more imaginative character designs to come around in a while.

With one issue left in this story, we can’t wait to see how Return of the Master wraps up. This is a game-changer for the franchise, hinting at huge things to come. 

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