Content Warning: Intimate Partner Violence
Chu Volume 1 is a drama from Image Comics written and lettered by John Layman and illustrated and colored by Dan Boultwood. Chu is a spinoff of Chew and features siblings Tony and Saffron Chu. Tony is a cop who has the ability to get impressions for things he eats. Saffron can get impressions from people she eats the exact same thing as. Also, she’s a criminal.
The concept of Chu Volume 1 sounds interesting on paper. A story of two siblings on opposite sides of the law trying to keep their cat and mouse game hidden from their families while using odd powers to sidestep one another at every turn? Heck yeah. But no. Chu is a meandering, crude, unpleasant, and confusing story that leaves much more to be desired than it offers. It’s like showing up to a three-course dinner only to be served salad and abandoned.
The story begins with a mysterious poisoned chicken outbreak, some exciting criminal antics from Saffron, tragic cop consequences from Tony, and endearing family drama at the siblings’ parents’ house. But then Saffron’s boyfriend hits her, some extremely unsettling murders occur, and everything comes crashing down for my enjoyment of Chu Volume 1. I have no problem with a story that uses crude humor, imagery, or circumstances so long as it’s done with the right touch. Chu Volume 1 doesn’t put any comedic or dramatic enough spin on these intense elements. It just comes off as heavy-handed gore and violence for the sake of its own self in the most unappealing way.
The art of Chu Volume 1 is good. I enjoy the character designs, the broad range of colors, and the thick lines that give the book a particularly cartoonish vibe. The problem for me is that the tone of the story doesn’t match what’s on the page. The violent moments are so well drawn and colored, but they are treated so like they are nothing that neither the cartoonish nature makes them into comedy nor do the moments feel like they’re meant to be taken seriously.
The lettering is good, and I enjoy the font and the placement of word bubbles. The ending of Chu Volume 1, however, is infuriating. After a whole story about a tainted chicken, murder, and intimate partner violence, there is a sudden massive time jump after some extremely consequential moments, and the volume just ends on an absolute flatline of a note. I don’t know if there are future volumes of Chu, but I cannot conceive where or how the story can develop from here, and if it does, how it wouldn’t now be an entirely different story.
I went into Chu Volume 1 expecting a fun and gory story about a sibling rivalry to the extreme. I left with a bad taste in my mouth. The art and some of the underlying concepts are good, but the story itself is gratuitous and does not pay off in the slightest.
Chu Volume 1 is available wherever comics are sold.
Chu Volume 1
I went into Chu Volume 1 expecting a fun and gory story about a sibling rivalry to the extreme. I left with a bad taste in my mouth. The art and some of the underlying concepts are good, but the story itself is gratuitous and does not pay off in the slightest