In 2009, my brother introduced me to an Image Comic series called Chew. It was funny, highly entertaining, and reminded me that beets are gross no matter how well you cook them. Now, eleven years later, writer John Layman looks to capture lightning in a bottle with a new series cleverly titled Chu. With some cool new imagery thanks in part to illustrator Dan Boultwood, Chu looks to be a fun-filled adventure set in the Chew universe. But is it just as good?
To answer my rhetorical question, yes. From the very first page of Chu, you know you’re in for a treat. As the title implies, Chu is the story of Saffron Chu, who was completely absent from the original series.
She’s in the middle of planning a big heist with a bunch of ragtag criminals who all bring their own particular set of skills to the table. There’s the driver, the muscle, the shooter, and Saffron, who can learn secrets from whoever she eats with just to name a few. That was probably my only hang-up from this first issue — how does she get secrets from just eating around people? But I’m sure they’ll dive more into that as the story progresses.
The character development is pretty solid early on, giving us the indication that this is not Saffron Chu’s first rodeo committing crimes. We also learn quite a bit about her, like how cautious and intelligent of a person she is. Aside from that, the first caper this band of misfits tries to pull off reminded me of hysterical blunders in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. If you’ve ever seen the film, you’ll remember Sissy, Missy, Chrissy, and Justice, the diamond thieves. There’s a bit that takes place that’ll remind you of the memorable moment when they retrieve a bunch of jewels.
As far as the rest of the book is concerned, it’s simply awesome with every page turn. It’s got the right balance of action, comedy, and seriousness with great pacing. Best of all, if you’re completely new to the series you don’t need any prior knowledge to follow along. It’s also worth mentioning that Layman lettered this book himself as well, which is not an easy task, so kudos to finding a good placement for the word bubbles.
Now, when I first heard there was going to be a Chu series without Rob Guillory, I was a little upset at first. But after reading the first issue and seeing what a breathtaking vision artist Dan Boultwood has brought to the table, I stand corrected. The more you flip through the pages, the more you love what he’s done. I love the boldness, how he makes each character design pop, and his great use of human anatomy.
But his talents don’t stop there. Boultwood also has a good eye for architecture as many of the buildings, rooftops, and crime scenes throughout the book are structured with such impressive symmetry. If you’ve never read some of his earlier works like Newbury & Hobbes: The Undying, I’d check those out as well. As for Chu, he gets my blessing and I can’t wait to see what inventiveness he brings to the series in the issues to come.
Overall, Chu #1 delivers everything that it sets out to accomplish. It has a solid story, fun creative art, and great action. Make sure to add this to your pull list during your next trip to your local comic shop. It’s also worth mentioning that there are a few cool variant covers if you can get your hands on them. One is done by Rob Guillory and the other is a homage to Detective Comics #38, which was the first appearance of Dick Grayson as Batman’s sidekick.