The madcap crime caper serving as a funhouse mirror for the series Chew doesn't let up on its second issue. There's a gorgeous cold open (like a really effective introduction of an antagonist) leading to a fantastic transition with an awkward family scene. From there, the tension builds as the consequences of the last issue's calamitous criminal activity close in like vultures circling a dying animal.
Despite a challenging visual element, the lead character Saffron Chu shares a lot of the charismatic elements of Doctor Aphra — a smart but messy woman with amazing talents and enjoyably bad decision making abilities. This framing makes her engaging in an "Issa Rae on Insecure" or "Ruby on Run" sort of fashion, where the reader recognizes that the lead is a train wreck and everything is riding on a razor's edge, but it's so difficult to look away.
It seems, from a continuity standpoint, this series is set far, far before the very popular Chew series. Likewise, this issue further establishes the world and characters with deft subtlety, using very natural feeling dialogue and actions to reveal realities about who and what is involved. The coming chicken-based plague, the mad future of food-based superpowers … stepping in before any of that happens makes those stories have an all-new resonance.
John Layman's script and dynamic lettering are very effective here, while the strong, animated series-esque visual storytelling of Dan Boultwood strongly connected the dots in making this story draw you in.
Despite the single thematic concern, this is a very strong comic book with some great choices in storytelling from the words to the images. As well, if you loved Chew, stepping back before its first pages is a distinctive treat! RATING: BUY.
Hannibal Tabu is a writer, journalist, DJ, poet and designer living in south Los Angeles with his wife and children. He's a winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt, winner of the 2018-2019 Cultural Trailblazer award from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, his weekly comic book review column THE BUY PILE can be found on iHeartRadio's Nerd-O-Rama podcast, his reviews can be found on BleedingCool.com, and more information can be found at his website, www.hannibaltabu.com.
Plus, get free weekly web comics on the Operative Network at http://bit.ly/combatshaman.