This series is currently planned to end at issue #60. Much as I enjoy it, I think that having a definite end point is a very good thing in this case. A great deal of “Chew’s” appeal comes from not only the unpredictability of its plots, but the creative weirdness of its world. Not only does this volume start off with a dance sequence from the notoriously bitter Applebee, but it also involves mind-controlling latte foam, a man who can carve fully-functional items from chocolate, and protagonist Tony Chu’s girlfriend bribing an Elvis impersonator for his outfit with an irresistible recipe for fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. You’ll never see stuff like this reading Marvel or DC; and yet, this volume still manages to make a major misstep which drags the whole experience down.
With his ability to discern the history of something by eating it, not to mention his terrible, terrible luck, it’s kind of a given that Tony has wound up being a magnet for all sorts of crap in this series. However, for all the suffering he endures things always find a way of evening out in the end. Not here. After his first, very successful, day on the job as a traffic cop, Tony gets kidnapped by a crazed sportswriter who wants to write a book on the sexual proclivities of the greatest baseball players. The greatest dead baseball players. Can you see where this is going?
Unfortunately the suffering he endures at the hands of his captors is far too mean-spirited and downright cruel to make his eventual triumph satisfying. Writer John Layman usually manages to balance Tony’s suffering with hilarity, but he drops the ball big time with this volume. It’s a shame as there’s still a lot to enjoy here, particularly in the way the relationship between his daughter Olive and his former partner/current nemesis Mason Savoy takes some interesting turns and winds up going in a direction I wouldn’t have expected. There’s great stuff here in this volume, but it’s dragged down by a big black mass of suck at its center. Still worth reading, but unlike the previous volumes, you probably won’t feel like coming back for seconds [*rimshot*].