The last time I talked about this series, it was regarding how writer John Layman managed to push protagonist Tony Chu’s ongoing bad fortune past the point it could be reasonably tolerated. It’s been clear that the man is a living shit-magnet, but the abuse he suffered in vol. 5 made the overall experience no fun for everyone involved. That didn’t get me to stop reading the series, though. You didn’t see me talk about vol. 6 because, well, that can be chalked up to general laziness. It was an interesting diversion which focused on Tony’s sister Toni (or Antoinelle if you prefer) and her unfortunate fate which managed to sidestep the issues in the previous volume. With “Bad Apples,” Layman hits them head on and throws some interesting twists into the formula as the title passes the halfway point in its narrative.
At Toni’s funeral, Tony gets a surprise from his old boss Applebee at the FDA. Turns out that he and Colby are being reinstated at their old jobs. That works out great for everyone’s favorite cibopath as he wants to just lose himself in his work after what happened to Toni. This is the perfect time for that too as an egg-worshipping cult known as the Church of the Immaculate Ova has declared war on chicken-eaters worldwide. Tony dives into this business, and some with the Navy, headfirst in the hopes of getting some info on the man known as the Vampire who killed his sister. Meanwhile, his old partner Savoy is about to get some assistance in his cause to track down the root of the bird flu conspiracy from a most unexpected source.
It’s not that Tony’s luck has changed, the part with the baseballs should prove that, but with this volume he shows himself to be more able to go with the flow and turn situations to his advantage. That’s seen from the very beginning when he and Colby go straight to the root of the “flammable soda” case and find its connection to the Church of the Immaculate Ova. Even all the crap he suffered through in vol. 5 turns out to have given him an edge as his newfound pitching skills prove to be very useful here. Most satisfying, though, is how he finally turns the tables on the most wearisome trope in this series and gives Applebee the dressing-down he’s deserved since the first volume. Yes, Tony Chu, is still living a life filled with weirdness, anger and heartbreak, yet he’s now more able and willing to carve some fun out of it too.
Speaking of Applebee, his reaction to Tony’s verbal assault is priceless and highlights another ongoing complication in his relationship with Colby, which gets another big twist as the volume goes one. While the cyborg cop’s romantic life continues to be a bountiful mine of comedy gold, his involvement in the weirdness that envelop’s his partner’s life takes a dramatic turn here. I don’t want to spoil it, but it involves the man finally realizing something that the audience has been privy to for quite some time. The revelation is also handled in a great visual montage that gives artist Rob Guillory the chance to briefly revisit scenes from previous volumes and to draw some all-new gloriously bizarro food cases to drive the point home.
Though it looks like Colby’s new partnership is set to last for the foreseeable future, it takes another turn towards the end of the volume which wraps up with a severed toe as a new key plot point. It sounds bizarre, and a bit gruesome, but the genius of this series is that it can get you to go along with this through the careful planning and logic of the story along with the great fun it exudes. I may have been concerned about this title’s direction not too long ago, and I’m glad to say that’s not the case anymore. It doesn’t take a cibovoyant to know that “Chew’s” future is looking great again.
(Also, I would totally buy a copy of “Wild West Chew” if it were ever published. That’s not going to ever happen according to this volume, but I can’t be the only one who feels this way. Right?)