John Layman's Chew was a standout creator-owned comic in a time that will be remembered and defined by incredible creator-owned comics. It was funny and subversive, light yet emotional, action-packed and twisty, relatable, and yet gloriously weird. Now, with Chew complete and artist and co-creator Rob Guillory moving onto his own written and drawn Farmhand, Layman sought a new partner with whom to continue the, as he calls it in the afterword, Chewniverse: Dan Boultwood. He pitches this new series, Chu, as the Better Call Saul to Chew's Breaking Bad. The series will overlap, as evidenced by a welcome appearance of Tony Chu and a fully in-tact John Colby, but Chu #1 also tells its own story: the tale of Tony's sister, Saffron Chu, and her downward spiral into a life of crime.
Saffron is a Cibopars, which means that she is able to learn secrets from those with whom she shares meals… and this issue starts with a big one. After the opening serving, the comic becomes an Ocean's Eleven-esque caper that quickly devolves into a shower of puke and blood in one of the most nauseating comics scenes in recent (or, actually, non-recent) memory. It's shocking and hilarious, capturing that edge and strangeness that made Chew so unique. There's not much time developing Saffron yet herself, so it remains to be seen how she will shoulder this title, but it's a strong first installment regardless.
Boultwood is an absolute powerhouse, pulling off what seems like an impossible feat of creating an aesthetic that feels akin to Guillory's Chew artwork while still feeling unique. It's a vibrant, cartoony, colorful explosion of action and body fluid with expressive characters that are just fun to look at. Boultwood has made Chu #1 everything Chew was stylistic, while still very much doing its own thing.
Fans of Chew will love it, and those who've jumped on board for the first time with Chu #1 will be as intrigued as they are shocked by this debut issue.