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Review: Outer Darkness/Chew #3

Outer Darkeness/Chew #3

The new definition for something that is badass, funny, bonkers, cosmic, and just downright bizarre all at the same time is Outer Darkeness/Chew. Use it in a sentence! For example, “that new David Lynch movie is completely Outer Darkness/Chew!” Okay, there’re a few grammatical kinks to work out, but it still does the job of describing what is surely the wildest ride in comics today. The only thing it did wrong was end.

The third and last chapter of the very short crossover series embraces all of the culinary and sci-fi horror beats it had established in the previous entries to cap it all off as neatly as possible. The crew of the Charon (the spaceship housing the characters from the Outer Darkness comic) found a way to create living holograms out of the two main characters from the Chew universe, Tony Chu and Jack Colby, in order to communicate with an alien race that only speaks through food. Chu’s abilities allow him to do the same and he is successful, but then he learns he isn’t real and that he originally comes from a comic book universe.

And that’s just the premise.

This book works as a fascinating look at how the creative mind works and how well-suited comics are for letting imagination run free, crash into a tree, and then produce an unforgettable story. John Layman, Afu Chan, and Rob Guillory are all conscious of the ridiculous amounts of crazy they can bring to the comics page while never compromising the story. It’s impressive to see the rules of the two stories in this crossover—which are already self-indulgent and gleefully over the top—get broken and remade into fresh and unpredictable story threads.

Outer Darkness/Chew #3, Image Comics

Fans of Chew have a lot of Easter eggs and callbacks to look forward too, especially every time Poyo is involved. There’s an interesting twist with the mechanisms that allow the holograms to exist that brings the crossover full circle and gets the comic to speak in the voices of the two original comics simultaneously. If one felt that the first two issues might lean too heavily on Chew or vice versa, this third and last issue is where the creators get the balance between the two just right.

Afu Chan’s art captures the spirit of the Chew characters despite being drawn in the style of Outer Darkness. I did wish Rob Guillory would’ve have illustrated the Chew characters throughout the story as his cartoony designs are quite striking and so imbedded into the identity of that book. But this is a minor gripe and I know it is asking for a lot. Still, I wouldn’t have minded more Guillory pages in the crossover.

In the letter’s department, Pat Brosseau manages to infuse the text with the same energy exploding out of the panels. Demons and other creatures possess different text fonts to capture the sound or feel behind the words they impart. It adds another layer to the storytelling and it makes each page feel even more alive.

In a perfect comic book world, this crossover would be its own on-going series. The setting, the exchanges between characters, and the cast as a whole is more than enough to sustain a long-running series for years to come. Alas, it came down to three issues. Thankfully, this brief trek into crossover territory turned out to be the most fun I’ve had with a comic in a while. It makes me want to read more unusual crossover stories (perhaps one with another John Layman or Rob Guillory title? Say Leviathan or Farmhand?). Regardless, what this story brought was well worth the read and is sure to become a favorite for many, many readers.

Script: John Layman Art: Afu Chan and Rob Guillory
Story: 9.0 Art: 10 Overall: Buy and then write the creators demanding more of it!

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Outer Darkness/Chew #2

Outer Darkness/Chew #2

There’s no comic on the stands right now that’s having as much fun with its characters than Outer Darkness/Chew #2. This short three-issue crossover story from the minds of John Layman, Afu Chan, and Rob Guillory has reached its halfway point and it made sure every little bit of story got ramped up to 11. Oh, and it doubled down its most metafictional aspects and, well, I think they created a new type of meta in the process.

OD/C #2 sees Tony Chu and John Colby from Chew questioning the means through which they were transported to the world of Outer Darkness to speak with an alien that only communicates through food. They immediately realize that the whole “time-traveling” mumbo jumbo they got as an explanation for their presence isn’t all that genuine. And then it all goes meta.

Layman, Chan, and Guillory take this opportunity to really play around with the idea of one fiction inside another fiction and how it can essentially blow up into an entirely fresh and new kind of world-building. Tony and John realize they were brought into the spaceship, The Charon, by way of some kind of projection that extracts them from their comic book world. And by comic I mean the actual, literal comic. They even mention, and pass judgment, on its creators, Layman and Guillory.

A lot of the issue’s comedy finds itself lodged in this dynamic, with Tony trying to understand what reality is, or if it’s even something that exists for him and his friends, knowing they’re all part of a story created by Layman and Guillory. This actually serves as a good introduction to Chew, as John Colby proceeds to explain the comic’s history along with a few key details here and there. It doesn’t spoil Chew, though. But it makes a good case for diving into the comic whether you’re new to it or not.

With the knowledge of this meta mess Tony and John find themselves in comes the worry of what’ll happen once their services are no longer needed. From here, the story takes on a whole new life and the Food-Talking Alien plot takes a backseat to the fight for the meta survival of the Chewverse.

As fun and outrageous as this is, the shift did take me by surprise, with speed bump or two along the way. The change drastically shifts the balance of the story towards the Chewverse, leaving Outer Darkness a little in, well, the dark. That side of the story feels a bit underdeveloped in this second issue, especially in terms of character development. It makes me wish this crossover were an issue or two longer so that the Outer Darkness crew got some more breathing room.

Also, as much as I love Afu Chan’s art, I wish Guillory’s art also featured more in the issue, and the crossover as a whole. I hope the creative team takes advantage of the different visual styles in both series to mess around with the art in the upcoming final issue.

I did appreciate the scope of the fan service and easter eggs found in the comic. Fans of Guillory’s newest work, for instance, will have a thing or two connecting it to the stories found here and Afu Chan seems to be sneaking in pop culture references in the monster designs (with one in particular reminding me of a famous clown who was seen in theaters not too long ago). This is what I meant by world-building earlier. Each page brings something with it that connects it to the different series, and they can only go bigger. I’m thinking the next issue will double down on this.

I can honestly say I have absolutely no idea what issue #3 of OD/C is going to bring, and this makes me very happy. Despite Outer Darkness being left out a bit in this part of the story, what Layman, Chan, and Guillory have achieved here is gleefully unique and well worth the price of admission. If you buy one comic this week, make sure it’s this one.

Story: John Layman Art: Afu Chan and Rob Guillory,
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0

Recommendation: Buy and then read all of Chew

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Outer Darkness/Chew #1 Gets a Second Printing

The highly anticipated Outer Darkness/Chew #1 crossover has sold out at the distributer level and Image and Skybound has fast-tracked a second printing (helping?) to combat the fandom hungry pains.

Tony Chu is a modern-day cop who gets psychic impressions from what he eats. Joshua Rigg is a 28th-century starship captain who flies through an outer space filled with demons, monsters, and ghosts. Sounds like a perfect recipe for a comic book crossover, don’t it? Join the fun with Outer Darkness/Chew #1.

Outer Darkness/Chew #1, second printing (Diamond Code JAN208957) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, April 1.

Outer Darkness/Chew #1, second printing

Review: Outer Darkness/Chew #1

Outer Darkness/Chew #1

There’s something special about crossovers between non-superheroes comics. Usually, a Marvel or DC crossover comes with expectations of event-like conflicts and big action set-pieces. Creator-owned crossovers, on the other hand, tend to live and die by the strength of their characters and the culture they carry from their own comics. This is definitely the case with Outer Darkness/Chew #1, from John Layman, Afu Chan, and Rob Guillory, a coming together of sci-fi, horror, and comedy of epic proportions from two books that rival each other in terms of the sheer storytelling madness they produce.

The comic starts with the crew of the Charon (from Outer Darkness) engaging with a Cibulaxian alien ambassador that only engages in conversation over food. No external communicator can help in the situation and the chef responsible for comms meets a gleefully violent and premature end early on. The captain of the Charon, Captain Rigg, is then forced to resort to plan B: traveling in time to bring Tony Chu in, a Cibopath that can dive into the memories of the things he eats (from Chew).

Outer Darkness/Chew #1 requires prior knowledge of both series to fully appreciate. Writer John Layman, who wrote both series, basically says as much in his letter to the fans at the end of the issue, when he talks about how the book approaches the Chew parts of the book as a kind of coda to the original series (which ran for 60 issues from 2009-2016).

From the Outer Darkness side of the equation, an understanding of the concept is pretty much all you need, which is basically made up of bits from The Exorcist, Star Trek, and Event Horizon. Honestly, I would recommend reading both series as they are very good on their own and are well worth the price of admission. Maybe then come back to the crossover.

The story succeeds in making both the Chewverse and the Outer Darknessverse converge as if they were naturally meant to since their inception. It even makes it a point to recognize changes in how the characters look within the story once they crossover.

Rob Guillory, co-creator of Chew, illustrates his part of the story in the original style of the book with Afu Chan, co-creator of Outer Darkness, doing the same. When Tony Chu is brought aboard the Charon, Afu Chan takes over and the characters acknowledge the change in their looks. They are baffled by it, even.

It’s a bit of meta that builds up the crossover quite well and makes each character recognize the distance between their realities. Chew characters transition well under Chan’s pencils and they still seem like they are from another place, which adds to the clash of stories between the two universes.

Layman’s script does a good job of balancing both worlds, especially in terms of tone. Outer Darkness is a more serious tale than Chew and yet they each keep their identities intact throughout the issue. One’s humor doesn’t drown out the other’s horror. This is something that rarely manages to carry over in this type of story, but Layman pulls it off. Let’s see if it manages to sustain itself over the entire arc.

There’s a lot to like about Outer Darkness/Chew #1, especially for fans of the two series. In fact, I’d say that’s precisely the audience it’s seeking. New readers will probably struggle a bit to make everything click, but there’re still enough things going on in the story that anyone could latch onto and follow. There’s just a lot of fun to be had here, and the promise of more Cibopaths in space is always a good thing.

Script: John Layman Art: Rob Guillory and Afu Chan
Story: 9 Art: 10 Overall: Buy and then read all of Chew

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Outer Darkness and Chew Blend Together in March

The New York Times bestselling, Eisner Award winning creative team behind ChewJohn Layman and Rob Guilloryreunite for a three-issue, crossover, miniseries with Image and Skybound Entertainment’s science fiction horror series Outer Darkness with regular series artist Afu Chan available this March.

Tony Chu is a modern-day cop who gets psychic impressions from what he eats. Joshua Rigg is a 28th-century starship captain who flies through an outer space filled with demons, monsters, and ghosts. Sounds like a perfect recipe for a comic book crossover, don’t it? Join the fun with Outer Darkness/Chew #1.

Outer Darkness/Chew #1 will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, March 4.

Outer Darkness/Chew #1

The Pirate Queen Returns in Age of Conan: Bêlit!

Those who know her fear her…and those who know the sea have felt her wrath. This March, the Age of Conan will showcase one of Conan’s most formidable and memorable companions: the one and only Bêlit, Queen of the Black Coast!

In an all-new story from rising star Tini Howard and artist Kate Niemczyk, learn how the most formidable pirate queen came to be, as a teenage Bêlit stows away on the ship of the Dread Admiral Atrahasis…her adventures leading her down a dangerous and deadly road, one that will change her life and the lives of all who roam the seas of the Hyborian Age!

Plus, don’t miss the first chapter in an all-new Bêlit prose novella, presented here for the first time!

Age of Conan: Bêlit #1 features a main cover by Sana Takeda and variant by Afu Chan. It goes on sale March 13, 2019.

Outer Darkness #1 Sells Out and Goes Back to Print

Image Comics and Skybound Entertainment have announced that the debut issue of John Layman and Afu Chan’s sci-fi horror series Outer Darkness is being fast-tracked for a second printing in order to keep up with customer demand.

In Outer Darkness, humanity successfully colonized the galaxy. But the vast reaches of space are anything but safe. So when Captain Joshua Rigg and the crew of the starship Charon set out on a desperate rescue mission into the Outer Darkness of space, they’ll encounter demonic possessions, hauntings, and other flavors of cosmic horror. Because, quite simply: out in the abyss, everything wants to kill them.

Outer Darkness #1 2nd printing (Diamond code: SEP188838) and Outer Darkness #2 (Diamond code: OCT180234) will be available on Wednesday, December 12th. The final order cutoff deadline for comics retailers is Monday, November 19th.

John Layman and Afu Chan Show Space is Terrifying in Outer Darkness

Eisner Award-winning writer John Layman and artist Afu Chan team up for Outer Darkness, an all-new sci-fi/horror series coming this November from Image Comics and Skybound Entertainment.

In Outer Darkness, humankind has successfully colonized the galaxy. But during our interstellar travels, we discovered a terrifying secret out in the vast reaches of space…

Enter Captain Joshua Rigg and the crew of the starship Charon, who will encounter demonic possessions, hauntings, and cosmic horror as they embark on a desperate rescue mission into the Outer Darkness of space—where everything wants to kill them.

Outer Darkness #1 will hit stores on Wednesday, November 7th.

Hunters, a New Comic Anthology from Lion Forge

Lion Forge Comics builds on its promise of “Comics for Everyone” with the announcement of Hunters, an all-new fantasy epic told through a diverse cast of today’s top creative talent!

Famed warrior Azarias has gathered a small army of varied adventurers on a quest to gather the dust of a distant island god in order to save the life of their king. Along the way, they encounter numerous beasts and monsters, all in the process of gathering artifacts necessary to locate the island god before ultimately defeating it. Throughout the course of the adventure, the band disperses into small groups with individual objectives in order to cover more ground in shorter order. These individual side-story adventures reveal more about each of the many unique and intriguing characters and their different interactions in different combinations.

This very intricate and original fantasy universe is filled with a large cast of intriguing, complex, and diverse warriors deserving stories of their own, building to the ultimate encounter. While the primary storyline is told by series co-director Josh Tierney and illustrated by Miguel Valderrama, the individual short tales are told by a variety of their celebrated comic-industry peers in different visual styles.

Co-created by Paul Maybury and Josh Tierney, this epic anthology taps Miguel Valderrama, Carlos Valderrama, Afu Chan, Devin Kraft, Niami, Meg Gandy, Jared Morgan, Irene Koh, Kyla Vanderklugt, Benjamin Marra, Alexis Ziritt, Travel Foreman, Carlos Carrasco, Vlad Gusev, and Ramon Sierra for an epic high fantasy tale.

Hunters is published in partnership with Buño Books and is slated for release in June.

Josh Vann and Simone D’Armini’s The Spider King Debuts in February

In the year 956 AD an unlikely group of Viking warriors in northern Europe face an even more unlikely adversary in the form of… Aliens! The debut graphic novel from Australian author Josh Vann and Italian illustrator Simone D’ArminiThe Spider King, introduces a vicious and violent world of survival to an extra terrestrial threat unlike any mankind has faced before.

Originally self-published in 2016 and funded with Kickstarter, The Spider King will make its serialized debut this February as IDW Publishing will release the international hit to a whole new audience. Garnering early praise upon its release, The Spider King was nominated for Best Graphic Novel at the 2016 Aurealis Awards and went on to win Bronze at the 2016 Ledgers, which acknowledges excellence in Australian comic art and publishing.

Joining Vann and D’Armini are colorist Adrian Bloch and letterer Nic J. Shaw.

Launching in February the four issue series will feature an impressive array of variant covers including Skottie YoungAfu Chan, and Jakub RebelkaThe Spider King is available for pre-order now through your local comic shop.

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