When your world is shot, it's nice to be able to rely on family members who have a hold of keeping their kit together that you can take out a few days while they've got things covered.
Family Recipes is a Toni and Olive Chu centric volume. They get what needs to be done while Tony is out of his state, either dopey with depression or really just balls out tripping on chogs. Chog-tripping into a realm of psychedelic hallucination that is so in in it's out-of-placeness in the Chew universe, even if it's levels and layers stripped away of any semblance of sanity. A momentary diversion that shows how much fun the creators can have warping their own universe.
Disturbing. Funny. Whacked out and sincere. Heart though is where it really slices. Tony is ambling and down in the dredges of loss, and you see it. The fatigue in his face, the sag and droop of his shoulders. Those flashbacks are intense in their brief glimpses, packing punches of what was here only for a short while. John Layman and Rob Guillory express that sadness with a fine hew that you're in there. If not with a tear, then at least with a catch of your breath.
These moments in the dark highlight how fun and absurd Chew can be, and is. Layman and Guillory again crank out wild and interesting super powers to be had relating to food. It seems over-the-top, but then they spit forth another and you wonder if there could ever be a limit, hoping that never find it and carry on.
A lot of detail goes a long way and Guillory chocks up a thick curry when it comes to incidental and background pieces. Jokes jammed and crammed that you have to come back, or linger, and read what's going on around the characters and what they're saying. It's packed, but not overwhelming or distracting to the flow. It's that side dish if you want it. And you'll want it.
Volume 8 is nowhere to start a thing. Never mind that however, as Family Recipes on its own ably wraps around the world of Tony Chu. You could start at the start, and jumping in now this late in the game takes away all its build, but it's not like you would be that lost. To fully wrap yourself in how great has been the loss, you need to read at least two volumes back.
Chew is an hilarious, offbeat comic that holds its characters close. For all the screwball and gross out it can dish, it's still a story that knows how to develop its relationships and rend your heart while making you laugh.
Reviewed on Monday, 29 September 2014