John Layman was one of the writers who changed what it means to have an Image Comics series in the 2010s with Chew. Now, he has teamed up with Dan Boultwood for a spinoff series, Chu, which focuses on Saffron Chu, sister of the original series' lead, Tony. The first issue was a fun and thrilling gross-out that delivered a page-turner but didn't give the reader much of a chance to get to know Saffron. Now, with Chu #2, will Saffron become as compelling a character as her brother?
Not only will Chu #2 convince anyone who wasn't sold by the first issue, but John Layman writes such a complete, focused narrative that it almost feels like a first issue itself. Chu #1 was good, and it set up a thread that becomes a major story in this issue, but Chu #2 is where we begin to take the journey with Saffron. We see a threat coming her way as we experience her family drama, made all the more tense due to her secret life of crime. Besides standing on its own, Chu also does what Chew did to great effect, delivering gore that is both visceral and, somehow, hilarious. Chu is as good as it is because it doesn't take itself seriously, but instead delivers a fun, silly, clever comic that functions equally well as a crime thriller and a dark comedy.
Layman's writing is as sharp as ever, and Boultwood continues to create pages that match the tone that Chew artist Rob Guillory set with the original series while also delivering something wholly original. It's part Garbage Pail Kid-gross-out, part cartoony exaggeration, part-Pixar mom, and part-Tarantino with just a touch of noir that can be seen in the dramatic angles of certain panels.
Interestingly, Chu also functions as a direct prequel to Chew, leading up to some major elements of that series. Layman previously described Chu as being the Better Call Saul to Chew's Breaking Bad, so it will be intriguing to see how these two continue to overlap.