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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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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

Better, Stronger, Faster: It’s Secret Agent Poyo from Skelton Crew Studio!!

Chew fans, Skelton Crew Studio has one for you as they’ve revealed their brand new Secret Agent Poyo! The new bust statue is 4.75-inches of cybernetically enhanced rooster, bursting out of a steel crate base, ready to kick ass, break hearts and take names.

Poyo is scultped by Jamie Macfarlane and the base is covered with Rob Guillory-isms like “Danger! Murderous bird inside!” and “PANIC NOW.”

The original mini-bust sold out of its run of 500 in 2014, so the Crew are doing something a littl different for this one. Secret Agent Poyo is ONLY going to be available to order for one month, til Oct. 16 — then they’ll set the run size and his badass will be no more. In “CHEW” merch tradition, each Secret Agent Poyo will come with a fight ticket signed by John Layman and Rob Guillory! Who’s Poyo’s unlucky opponent? MacGregor? Mayweather? MacGregor AND Mayweather?! You’ll just have to order and see!

In “CHEW” merch tradition, each Secret Agent Poyo will come with a fight ticket signed by John Layman and Rob Guillory! Who’s Poyo’s unlucky opponent? MacGregor? Mayweather? MacGregor AND Mayweather?! You’ll just have to order and see!

Skelton Crew Studio has also announced their Savoy statue has passed through U.S. Customs like a deft ninja and will soon be on his way to New England. Once he arrives, they’ll do the usual thorough inspection and hope to start shipping before the end of October!

Skelton Crew Studio Releases Mason Savoy Details to Chew On!

After lots of hints and teases Skelton Crew Studio has released the details on their Mason Savoy mini-bust!

Chew‘s Mason Savoy mini-bust will be going up for pre-order in the next 7-10 days. In case you missed, Savoy is going to be HUGE. Skelton makes all of their busts to scale with one another, as you can peep below.

Savoy is going to be more than 7.5 inches tall and twice as wide as Tony Chu — Tony doesn’t call him Fat Man for nothing. See how he towers over Tony and Poyo? Bad. Ass.

Skelton Crew Studio has already made 500 sold-out Poyos three years ago and 450 sold-out Tonys 18 months ago.

How many Savoy are they making? WE get to decide.

Savoy is going to be available for just ONE MONTH only, so grab him while he’s grab-able, and he’s going to be Kickstarter-style.

  • Once they crest 200 orders, boom!, he’s officially in production. Under 200 and that’s us telling Skelton no thank you, although given his looming gorgeousness and all-around awesomeness, I think we all hope that doesn’t happen.
  • Once they hit 250 orders, boom!, every order up to order no. 300 receives a bonus exclusive Fanboy vinyl Chog. Can’t “beet” that, can ya?!
  • And EVERY Savoy is signed by “CHEW”‘s amazing duo, John Layman and Rob Guillory! Because they’re great like that.

skelton-crew-studio-mason-savoy-1 skelton-crew-studio-mason-savoy-2

Demon Chicken Poyo achieves a brutal finale this April

John Layman and Rob Guillory will unleash the final one-shot chronicling the action-packed exploits of the beloved homicidal cybernetic kung-fu rooster this April.

Poyo, the secret agent; Poyo, the warrior chicken—and now: Poyo, the demon chicken.

The final episode of the groundbreaking and historic Poyo trilogy: Demon Chicken Poyo. Hell wants him. Heaven won’t take him. Earth needs him. That was also the tagline for that godawful Constantine movie. But Poyo is so badass, he stole it from Keanu Reeves!

Chew: Demon Chicken Poyo #1 Cover A by Rob Guillory (Diamond code: FEB160499) hits stores Wednesday, April 20th. Chew: Demon Chicken Poyo #1 Cover B sketch variant (Diamond code: FEB160500) will also be available Wednesday, April 20th. Final order cutoff deadline for retailers is Monday, March 28th.

Demon Chicken Poyo

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