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Rare and Well Done All at Once: Chew #11 [Review]

RARE AND WELL DONE ALL AT ONCE – Chew 11

The pygmy hog is a wild pig that grows to around two feet long and is native to the area around India. It is highly endangered, with only a hundred or so left in existence. And I imagine that it is also exquisitely delicious. This world is filled with many and diverse forms of life that you and I will never have the opportunity to devour after being roasted in herbs and spices, and every day there are fewer and fewer of them left. So what’s wrong with a little curiosity, I say? What’s so bad about taking that last bite of succulent whale tempura? Are we as human beings so wrong if we merely want to eat an animal that no one will ever be able to eat again?

Tony Chu and the FDA would say yes, we are, if the pages of “Chew” #11 are to be believed. The latest issue in John Layman and Rob Guillory’s series published by Image sees the investigator with the power to learn the history of any organic matter he tastes assigned to infiltrate a secretive criminal diners’ club. This organization of cutthroat connoisseurs meets twice a year and dines on only the finest of endangered plants and animals. And to make matters worse, they take great pride in the crimes the commit in order steal these rare delicacies.

This time they’ve surpassed themselves, acquiring not merely endangered cuisine but somehow managing to get their hands on extinct creatures and are offering wooly mammoth and sabretooth tiger on their latest menu, but they’ve also killed to acquire the food and killed to keep their parties secret, which brings Tony Chu onto their trail. Chu also finds a way to mix his business and personal life, bringing food reporter Amelia Mintz as his date to the lavish banquet.Layman and Guillory continue to produce a thoroughly entertaining book. Layman’s writing is excellent as it’s always been on the series, continuing to create a believable world of high stakes food crimes while setting a perfect action comedy tone. But it’s Guillory who really shines here, through the comedy he’s able to convey through the body language of all the characters, particularly Chu and Mintz but also Chu’s cybernetically enhanced partner Detective John Colby and his boss Director Applebee. And the prehistoric caveman versus sabretooth tiger fight scene that opens the issue is another impressive achievement by Guillory.

Still, I can’t help but feel more than a little sympathetic to the group Chu’s taking down in this one. I mean, let’s not kid ourselves. We’re not very good at taking care of the planet. As a species, humans are a big clumsy oaf stumbling around knocking fragile ecosystems over. We’re going to kill them all, eventually. They may as well be delicious before they’re gone.

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