Chew # 26 - John Layman (w) Rob Guillory (a)
Image Comics $2.99
One of the best things about Chew has been its surprise success. Writer John Layman famously shopped it around for a good while before deciding to finance it himself and publish it through Image Comics. The surprise is that this book might have been considered too strange for mainstream readers, but it’s had incredible success. Its proof that if you have a good story you can sell virtually any strange idea you can come up with.
Chew, for those who have somehow missed the boat thus far, revolves around a detective named Tony Chu.
Tony, who lives in a world where the consumption of bird meat is illegal, is a cibopath. This means that he can take a bite from anything (literally anything, at times it gets a bit disgusting in hilarious ways) and get a psychic impression from that object. This power often helps in his investigation. Chew slowly reveals a conspiracy surrounding Tony Chu and the world he lives in.
In issue # 26 Tony is in a coma. This is almost a relief as Tony is a bit of a dick. That’s another interesting thing about this book. Tony is a person who you would want nothing to do with in real life. However, Layman writes him in such a compelling manner that you almost miss him when he isn’t on stage
Anyhow, Tony is in a coma so this issue focuses on his sister, Toni, who works for NASA. Toni is great, she’s a sweetheart, and a character you actually want to root for. In this issue her food power (like Tony, most characters in this book have food related powers) is revealed in a hilarious scene which reveals yet another reason why this character is so much fun. There’s a strong case to be made for a book that can put its main cast on the sidelines, and still be as great as it has ever been.
As good as a writer as John Layman is, it wouldn’t be the same book without artist Rob Guillory. It’s almost impossible to write about Guillory art without using the word “cartoon” (the book even has sound effects like “bam” written out) but that’s not knocking the book. When doors slam, they tell you they’ve slammed, as if the art doesn’t make it clear enough. Guillory’s lines are jagged and soft, and typically fun to look at. This book needs his sort of pop art edge. Without it the book would be too dark, the humor wouldn’t quite get through. With it, Chew is one of the best books on the stands, a book that should never be missed.
Mind Mgmt # 1 - Matt Kindt (w, a)
Dark Horse $3.99
Mind Mgmt # 1 from writer and artist Matt Kindt (Super Spy, Revolver) is the perfect example of why single issue paper comics may never die. From the color of the paper to the text that wraps around the edges, this is a book that is best enjoyed as a single physical object. A trend in comic has been to add material to single issues that won’t be collected in the eventual collection. This usually feels like a gimmick, but that isn’t the case here. Anyhow, the book is so good you won’t want to be miss an issue in any case. This is the kind of book so rarely seen that it’s hard not to get really excited about.
Loosely, Mind Mgmt revolves around the mystery of “The Amnesia Flight”. Two years before the book opens, every person on a flight lost their memory. The book sucks you in by throwing questions at you. The main character is a woman who wants to write a book about that flight. In this issue she is researching the book, which we’re told she’ll never be able to write. It’s intriguing and fun. Kindt is a man full of ideas, hopefully in this book (an ongoing) he’ll get to see all of them through. That was the only problem with Kindt’s last graphic novel, Revolver. It seemed too short for him to be able to get everything he wanted to say across.
Kindt’s light watercolors splash against crooked shapes. Many of his characters seem almost incomplete, but in a waty that just gives them more definition. Mind Mgmt is a lot of fun, and it’s only going to get better.
-- Jeffrey Whitelaw