And so ends the first arc of Chu by John Layman and Dan Boultwood. What started out as an interesting idea for a Chew prequel that struggled to find its own voice in the debut issue has, ever since the stellar Chu #2, delivered killer issue after killer issue. Does this first arc finale continue this series' trend of getting better every time?
Longtime fans of Chew and new readers of Chu alike will find a lot to love in this finale. Interestingly, while it's structured as the climax, it ends up feeling like a means to get the series to an even more intriguing place. It pays off everything that happened in an exciting conflict between Saffron and Tony, but what is far more thrilling is Saffron's conversation with Tony at the end, after quite the time jump. In this scene, Saffron pulls the rug out from under the reader and Tony, essentially stating what appears to be the mission statement for Chu as a book going forward. Now, that's not to say that the showdown between Saffron and Tony itself isn't exciting. It went above and beyond what a reader could fairly expect, as Saffron finds herself in the position where she has to get scrappy with someone she truly cares about. In the last two issues, she had to kill people for the first time in order to survive, and she did so with shock and disgust, yes, but also without much remorse… but here, killing the threat doesn't work, considering who the threat is. It's compelling stuff, but again, it's a testament to the strength of Layman's writing that this issue functions beautifully as both pay off and set-up.
Boultwood draws the fight with the same intensity and humor that he draws conversational scenes. The energy and style he brings to Chu is as unique as Rob Guillory's was to Chew, which works well to set Chu apart as its own, unique series.
Chu will return in Spring of 2021, according to the backmatter. It'll be a long winter waiting to see what Saffron does next.