"Meet Tony Chu. Tony Chu is almost always hungry, and almost never eats. Here's why: Tony Chu is cibopathic. That means he can take a bite of an apple, and get a feeling in his head about what tree it grew from, what pesticides were used on the crop, and when it was harvested. Or he could eat a hamburger, and flash onto something else entirely. Strangely enough, the only food Tony Chu can eat and not get a psychic sensation from is beets. Consquently, Tony Chu eats a lot of beets."
— from Issue 1
Chew is a comic book series by John Layman and Rob Guillory. And it's awesome.In a world where the bird flu killed millions* or is it all a government conspiracy? and chicken has been outlawed, Tony Chu is a Philly cop struggling with the strange gift of cibopathy. When he is forced to work for the Food and Drug Administration (the most powerful government agency), he is partnered with a fellow cibopath, Agent Mason Savoy, in the Special Crimes Division. Together, they use their strange (and disgusting) ability to solve chicken and other food-related crimes. After Savoy betrays the FDA, Chu is partnered with John Colby, his old police partner who was turned into a cyborg after being injured on the job.Chew is notable for having an ordinary (well, aside from the cibopathy) Asian-American for a protagonist, which is pretty rare in Western fiction. He doesn't evenknow kung fu!Not to be confused with The Chew, an ABC clone of The View that focuses on food.
He had to be operated on as he actually died. During the operation, he took on the entire army of hell, and even The Devil begged for mercy
Bad Boss: Mike Applebee, who hates Tony for no discernible reason and seems more concerned about torturing Tony than solving cases. Then Chu and Colby are transferred to other departments. This doesn't stop him from badmouthing them to anyone who asks Applebee about them
Big Screwed-Up Family: Tony's family. Members include Chow (older brother, repeat chicken smuggler), Sage (younger sister, pyromaniac), Harold (younger brother, transvestite stripper), Rosemary (older sister, hates Tony's guts), Toni (twin sister), and Olive (Tony's estranged daughter). Most (if not all) of Tony's siblings have a food related power like he does, such as Toni being a cibovoyant (being able to see the future of anything living she eats), and Sage being a cipropanthropatic (seeing the memories of anyone closeby her eating the same thing that she's eating).
Bilingual Bonus: A good chunk of issue 4 is in transliterated Russian, which is largely correct and entirely relevant to the situation. Also, one of the characters is named Dr. Kvass.
Poyo the Chicken, while mispelled it's supposed to be pollo, means chicken in Spanish. So his name is literally Chicken the Chicken.
Bi the Way: It's never outright stated, but what with Colby sleeping with both Aplebee and the head of the USDA, male and female respectively it can be safely stated that bisexual is the correct label. Also helps that he hit on one of Chu's sisters in issue #31.
Buddy Cop Show: The first chapter, as thoroughly lampshaded. It regains some elements once Colby returns as Chu's partner.
Colby: What can I say, Chu? I'm the unhinged, break-any-rule, loose-cannon cop. You're the by-the-book square that never met a departmental regulation that you didn't love. That's why we work so well together.
Burger Fool: A particularly obnoxious one who refuses to give any information until being tricked into thinking the FDA would kill his whole family.
By-the-Book Cop: Mere pages in to the first issue, we see that Tony is willing to arrest his own brother.
Call Back: The panel in which Colby sleeps with his USDA boss is drawn exactly like the one where he sleeps with Applebee. It was also used when Tony and Amelia first slept together.
Cannibalism Superpower: The reason why Tony gets assigned to the FDA in the first place. Since Tony gets psychic impressions from anything he tastes, his jerk of a captain thinks its funny to send him to nibble on corpses, lick pools of blood or even eat poop to gather evidence. It is later revealed that cibopaths can also absorb a person's talents and abilities by eating parts of their bodies.
Conspiracy Theorist: Several people in the Chewniverse believe that the truth behind the bird flu epidemic is being covered up by the government. This includes Tony's brother Chow, John Colby, the radicals of E.G.G., and Mason Savoy.
Cool Pet: Every member of the USDA gets a cyborg animal partner as part of standard procedure. Colby's is Mecha-Poyo.
Closet Key: Colby is this for Applebee. Colby sleeps with Applebee to buy Chu some time for his independently conducted investigation.
Cowboy Cop: Colby is gleefully willing to violate every bit of police protocol that gets in his way.
Fingore: Poyo doesn't like it when Toni pets him under his beak.
Food Porn: In-story, Amelia's restaurant reviews, thanks to her powers. Her readers can literally taste the subject of her articles. This allows Tony to taste food that he can't eat without disgusting visions.
Genius Sweet Tooth: Voresophics are capable of amazing Sherlock Scans (ie. capable of deducing the exact height, weight, race, gender, handedness, and weapon of a suspect, as well as brief summary of their background, simply from a couple of crime photos), provided they are eating.
Government Conspiracy: There are some who believe the government lied about the bird flu and the chicken embargo is illegal.
I Just Want to Be Normal: Antonelle Chew, Chew's fraternal twin sister is cibovoyant, but hides it because she doesn't wanted to be treated like a freakshow like Tony is.
I'm a Humanitarian: Not intentionally, but taking a bite out of someone is the easiest way for a cibopath to to get the information they need out of a suspect.
Indulgent Fantasy Segue: Tony' first interaction with Amelia Mintz is considerably more romantic in his head than it was in reality.
Jerk Ass: a good three quarters of characters so far introduced either treat Tony like crap for barely any reason at all, or make it absolutely clear the only reason why they're associating with him is to use his cibopathic powers
My Country, Right or Wrong: John Colby helps enforce the poultry prohibition while part of the Philadelphia PD and the FDA even though he strongly disagrees with it and believes that it is part of a government cover-up.
Tony Chu believes in enforcing the poultry prohibition because it is the law. His views on the law itself are unclear.
Our Vampires Are Different: As Mason said, "There's no such thing as vampires," but a cibopath known as the Vampire is more than happy to use the myth to his advantage.
Ordinary High-School Student: Olivia Chu, morose and estranged teenage daughter of Tony Chu. Also a cibopath and new protege of Mason Savoy.
Picky Eater: Chu's menu (at least the one that doesn't involve chewing on murder victims) is very limited, thanks to the rather unpleasant images he can get from what he eats. Most of it consists of beets.
Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Min Tso for Chu. Amelia also has her own crazy ex, who stalks her at work and leaves very nasty and racist voice mails on her answering machine. He then kidnaps Chu for a very unusual form of research for a book about long-dead baseball players' sex lives. And after that he tries to sell Tony to the highest bidders.
Straight Gay: Colby fits the "straight" part of this trope so well there seems to be a bit of confusion over whether or not he is actually gay. At one point he seduces Applebee and when he sends a taunting text to a criminal, his avatar is the Terminator robot on a rainbow flag background.
He's also seduced his female USDA boss so he might be bisexual.
Straw Feminist: The USDA seems to be made up almost entirely of women who believe that all men are subsentient cretins (at least all of the men who work for the FDA). Those members who aren't cyborg animals, at least
Supreme Chef: The Great Fatanyeros is capable of communicating the complete works of Shakespeare through food.
Superpowerful Genetics: Tony's twin sister is cibovoyant and his daughter is a cibopath who, according to Savoy, is even more powerful than Tony.
Tastes Like Chicken: The gallsaberry is almost identical to chicken in taste when it's cooked. With the federal ban on poultry, this makes it very significant to the plot, and that's not considering the "fruit"'s probably extraterrestrial origin.
Worthy Opponent: Mason still expresses respect for Tony, even after they become enemies.
Yandere: Toni's last girlfriend, Min Tso. He gave her an engagement ring. She cut off her toe and asked him to eat it so they could literally be a part of each other. The relationship went downhill fast.