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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

John Layman Goes From Chew to Chu

Fans of the New York Times bestselling, multiple Eisner Award winning, beloved humor/crime comic Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory will be served an all-new spinoff series from Layman, and with art by Dan Boultwood, in the forthcoming Chu from Image Comics. For fans hungry for more—Skybound’s popular Outer Darkness/Chew crossover will be collected into trade paperback and available in July.

New spinoff series Chu promises to be a delectable cat-and-mouse story and will stand on its own for new readers—but delight longtime fans of the Chew universe—and will launch from Image Comics this June.

The

“After more than 60 issues of Chew, it was never a matter of if I would return to the world Rob Guillory and I created, but when. I needed a break after the book ended, but it wasn’t too long after that I started missing the characters and the world, and had the itch to return. It was something I approached cautiously because, while Chew was a complete story, I wanted to return to it in such a way it would be new and say something different, and it took a while to find the right angle. Outer Darkness/Chew was a step in that direction, as well a coda, a flower on the grave that was the story of Tony Chu. Chu is a different take on the Chu family and the Chew-universe, and in many ways it is a mirror, the flip side,” said Layman. “I’m confident readers of Chew will enjoy it, but it’s also something totally new, the story of Saffron Chu, not Tony Chu. She was completely absent from Chew, and this first story arc will tell the story of why that is.”

While Chew’s Tony Chu is a cibopath—able to get psychic impressions from what he eats—Chu’s Saffron Chu is a cibopars—able to learn secrets from who she eats with. Tony is a cop. Saffron is a criminal. They are brother and sister, and they are on a collision course.

The series is a ” different take on the Chu family and the Chew-universe, and in many ways it is a mirror, the flip side.” “It’s also something totally new, the story of Saffron Chu, not Tony Chu. She was completely absent from Chew, and this first story arc will tell the story of why that is.”

Fans won’t want to miss out on this felonious new food noir about cops, crooks, cooks, and clairvoyants.

Chu #1 will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, June 17.

Chu #1 will also be available for purchase across many digital platforms, including the official Image Comics iOS app, Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, comiXology, and Google Play.

Outer Darkness/Chew (ISBN: 978-1534316577) will be available in trade paperback on Wednesday, July 15 and at bookstores on Tuesday, July 21.

Chu #1

Around the Tubes

2020 Rescue #1

The weekend is almost here! What geeky things will you all be doing? Sound off in the comments below. While you wait for the weekday to end and weekend begins, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

How To Love Comics – Blackest Night Reading Order Checklist – This was a fun one worth checking out.

ICv2 – Midtown Comics Opening Outlet Store in Astoria, Queens – Nice!

The Beat – ReedPOP is now offering Emerald City Comic Con Artists Alley exhibitors refunds – As they should. Hopefully, they won’t be hit by travel and hotel costs. You can help by supporting these creators online!

Reviews

CBR – 2020 Rescue #1
Newsarama – Batman #90
But Why Tho Podcast – Batman: Overdrive
CBR – Billionaire Island #1
Talking Comics – Middlewest #15
CBR – Outer Darkness/Chew #1
CBR – Rogue Planet #1

Around the Tubes

Strange Academy #1

It’s new comic book day! What’s everyone getting? What are you excited for? Sound off in the comments. While you wait for shops to open, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

Newsarama – DC’s Wildcats Reboot Canceled According to Warren Ellis – This was still a thing? It wasn’t already?

The Beat – Multiple exhibitors withdraw from Emerald City Comic Con 2020, citing coronavirus concerns – How many major shows will cancel?

The Beat – A Year of Free Comics: Don’t get caught without a mask in City of Blank – Free comics!

Reviews

But Why Tho Podcast – Batman: Overdrive
Comics Bulletin – Billionaire Island #1
Talking Comics – Giant Size X-Men: Jean Grey & Emma Frost
Talking Comics – Isola #10
Newsarama – Marvel #1
AIPT – Outer Darkness/Chew #1
Newsarama – Strange Academy #1
AIPT – X-Men Milestones: Operation Zero Tolerance

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