I’m going to miss this series when it’s gone. That time is coming up soon as we’re now three-quarters of the way through its planned 60-issue run -- the panel of Older Applebee telling Older Chu how much he hates him in the final issue is starting to feel tangible at this point. It’s because there isn’t another series out there that manages to balance the gleefully bizarre with coherent, well-thought-out plotting. Usually you have to sacrifice one for the other. However, John Layman has found a way to write a series where a vampire uses the powers he gained from eating the last descendant of a line of warrior chefs to take a man’s arm off with a butter knife and still have it feel like a natural part of the world he has created. Even the last-minute save in this situation due to the intervention of a certain government agency with all the best toys manages to not make the showdown between Tony and Colby -- because the latter’s secrets have finally come back to bite him -- feel any less dramatic.
I’ve probably said this before, but having as versatile an artist as Rob Guillory on hand to draw all of this certainly helps to no end. Even compared to previous volumes, the visual imagination on display here is staggering. From simple sight gags like our first look at the Applebee family to the double-page spreads of Poyo’s exploits that pepper the volume, the art is never less than excellent from start to finish. I know I’m gushing here, but “Chew” has really been on a roll after crossing the halfway mark. Yes, the ratio of plot development to fluff isn’t as balanced as it should be. Entertaining as the gags in Poyo’s solo issue were (including one that illustrates the great crossover potential this series has with “The Walking Dead”), it didn’t add anything to the story as a whole. Well, maybe it made the scene on the final page hit harder for those of you who weren’t convinced of the character’s greatness. It really does feel like Layman and Guillory are doing some career-defining work on this title and that they’ll be hard-pressed to try and top it with whatever they do next. That’s a concern for another day, as there are still three more volumes to savor *rimshot* before the end.