"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 Chew
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
is a comic book series by John Layman and Rob Guillory. And it's awesome.In a world
where the bird flu killed millions*
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 even know kung fu!
An animated series from Heavy Metal has been announced, with Steven Yuen as Tony and Felicia Day as Amelia.
Not to be confused with The Chew
, an ABC clone of The View
that focuses on food.
This comic book series provides examples of:
- Acrofatic: Mason
- Asshole Victim: The senator.
- The Assimilator: The Vampire.
- Arc Words: "I think it's a fruit."
- "Vampires don't exist."
- "One will die and the other will dine on the flesh of his enemy."
- Bad Ass: Mason Savoy vs. ninjas. Mason wins.
- Badass Normal: Poyo was not exposed to radiation, trained by Tibetan monks, or bio-enhanced by aliens during their animal abduction sprees - he's just really, really bad ass.
- Empowered Badass Normal: Now he's a cyborg.
- 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. When Chu and Colby get transferred back, he stops once Tony finally stands up to him.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Mason Savoy and The Vampire get equal focus, with The Order of the Imaculate Ova taking up a third, less important spot, as of issue 20.
- 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.
- Blessed with Suck: Cibopathy, oh so much.
- Blood Sucking: The Vampire has discovered that cibopathy works nearly as well with blood as it does for flesh.
- Boobs of Steel: Lin Sae Woo and all the other USDA agents.
- Brown Note: Amelia Mintz.
- Buddy Cop Show: The first chapter, as thoroughly lampshaded. Once Colby returns as Chu's partner after Mason bites Tony's ear off and flees after Tony attempts to arrest him. this trope is back in full effect.
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.
- Chekov's Gun / Chekovs Gunman: Chew rivals One Piece in it's use of this trope, with most named characters coming back later on and most elements coming back in some way or another
- Poyo seems like just a funny side element when first introduced in the "International Flavor" arc. He later shows up at least once an arc to do something that's a combination of badass and important.
- The Goveneor of Yamapalu shows Amelia something that gets her to follow him back home at the end of issue 3. This later turns out to be The Gallisberry, an alien plant that tastes just like chicken and becomes the focus of the international flavor arc, and it's apparently extratrestiral origins hint at the alien letters in the sky that pop up during issue 15
- The USDA is a minor recurring element in the first half of the comic Becoming important to a point when Colby starts working there in issue 21.
- Alani, the woman who helps Chu break into the commpound on Yamapalu Later becomes head of the Order of The Immaculate Ova and one of the series chief antagonists.
- The angry guy who Colby mentions stares daggers at him whenever he and Tony visit and later stalks Amelia during a phone call with Tony Turns out to be her insane ex and becomes the Big Bad of the "Major Leauge Chew " arc.
- Colby, who shows up in the first chapter, gets a knife to the face, is missing for the remainder of the first arc, and returns from issue 6 onward as tony's new partner.
- Toni, Tony's fraternal twin sister who ends up as the Focus of the "Space Cakes" arc in Tony's place.
- 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 (though anytime it's suggested Tony refuses). 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.
- Crossover: A recent one with Revival, a double sided one shot, with a story by each series creator.
- Defiant to the End: Toni herself.
- Eat That: What half of Chu's job consists of.
- Epunymous Title
- Expy: Caesar Valenzano is very heavily based on Jules Winnfield.
- Fangs Are Evil: The Vampire
- 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.
- Foot Focus: In issue 36, where Toni is about to sever one of her toes to put into Tony's freezer adjacent Min Tso's toe.
- 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.
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: A very dark version with The Vampire's goal: to murder as many "food freaks" as possible, eat them, and absorbb their powers. His failure to do so with Toni causes him to have a breakdown. He also goes after powers regardless of their usefulness.
- Government Conspiracy: There are some who believe the government lied about the bird flu and the chicken embargo is illegal.
- Happily Married: Tony and Amelia as of issue 41
- I Ate WHAT?
- 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
- Killed Off for Real: Antonella 'Toni' Chu.
- Killer Rabbit: Poyo, the most lethal fighting cock in the world.
- Love at First Sight: Tony with Amelia Mintz.
- Man in a Kilt: Tony when he gets demoted to traffic enforcement.
- Mega Manning: It's revealed later on that Chibopaths gain the abilities of those they eat. Tony Uses this to escape Amelia's psychotic ex by gaining the abilities of the dead baseball players he was forced to eat and later makes the fastball he gained his Signature Move. It also turns out the Vampire's done this to dozens of people with food powers.
- Meta Origin: Mason Savoy comes to believe that all food-related superpowers have a cosmic purpose.
- The Mole: Mason Savoy
- 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.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Mecha-Poyo.
- 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.
- Punny Name: Chu/chew
- Many characters share their names with food or a restaurant. For instance, Chu's partners are Colby and Savoy and his FDA boss is Applebee.
- Required Secondary Powers: Presumably, Chu doesn't get readings from his own saliva.
- Serious Business: Chicken. Seriously.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Mason Savoy's perspicacity knows no bounds.
- Shout-Out: Tony's cousin in the Thanksgiving scene can be seen reading a Tek Jansen comic book.
- Savoy's nametag on his car mechanic disguise reads Hollis Mason.
- Olivia and Peter from Fringe show up in the background of issue 17 investigating some 'weird stuff'. An Observer shows up soon afterward.
- For the International Butter Sculpting Championship, two men who look suspiciously like Trey Parker and Matt Stone make a butter sculpture of Butters.
- Brown, the guy who can sculpt functional weapons out of chocolate, researches laser technology in a book that has a picture of a shark with a frickin' laser beam attached to its head.
- A Big Kahuna Burger appears in one of the pages.
- When Amelia's Psycho Ex-Boyfriend tries to sell Tony off to the highest bidder, one of the groups attending the auction is an Illinois chapter of Neo-Nazis.
- Stout Strength: Mason
- 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.
- Surveillance Station Slacker: can anyone say Gardner-Kvashennaya International Telescope?
- 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.
- Thanatos Gambit: Toni lops off one of her toes and leaves it in Tony's freezer next to Min's toe before the vampire kills her, knowing both that he would and, likely, that tony would open the box soon.
- Theme Naming: A majority of the characters are either named after food or are related to eating or culinary arts in some way.
- Through His Stomach: An unusual example - One of the reason Chu loves Amelia Mintz is that her writing lets Chu actually taste food without all the icky hangups he usually gets.
- Trademark Favorite Food: For some inexplicable reason, Chu's cibopathy does not work on beets. Thus, he eats a lot of beets. They are however, decidedly not his favorite food.
- Two-Faced: After Colby gets a chef's knife to the face in the first issue, he returns with a Terminator-esque prosthetic.
- Villainous Breakdown: The Vampire suffers this after failing to gain Toni's powers and hearing from her that Tony is going to kill him. This results in him breaking her neck.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Chu and Colby.
- Viva Las Vegas: The setting of issue 41. Tony, Colby, Amelia and Applebee head there for a law enforcement convention Which Tony is the toast of due to his and Colby's bust last issue. Tony and Amelia end up tying the knot while down there.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: What Amelia Mintz's writing can cause, when she wants it to.
- We Can Rebuild Him: Colby, and later Poyo.
- We Can Rule Together: More like "We can uncover the truth about the bird flu epidemic together." Mason does this for both Chu and Colby. They both refuse.
- Olive, on the other hand...
- Colby later agrees with Ceaser makes the offer, though he still hates Savoy.
- Whatevermancy: Cibopathy and all the other various food powers.
- 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.