In the world of comics, crossovers are nothing new. The Simpsons family has bumped heads with the Futurama crew, Batman met up with Dracula, and the Mars Attacks aliens are constantly messing with other fictional worlds. But it was still something of a shock when Image Comics announced they’d be publishing a one-shot comic that meshed together the surreal alternate universes of John Layman and Rob Guillory’s comedic crime saga Chew and Tim Seeley and Mike Norton’s noirish horror mystery Revival. And having just finished reading it, I find myself hungry for so much more of it.
A little background for both comics is in order. Chew takes place in a future where a poultry problem wiped out a chunk of the population, and it follows FDA agent named Tony Chu, a cibopath who can taste anything from an apple to a corpse and mentally grasp its entire history. He is partnered with the half-cyborg John Colby, who often seems like he’d rather make a joke than figure anything out. Revival, meanwhile, centers on the rural town of Wausau, Wisconsin, where a strange phenomenon brought all of the recently dead back to life, and it’s up to Officer Dana Cypress and the CDC’s Ibrahaim Ramin to figure out what’s going on.
The first part of Chew/Revival was handled by Layman and Guillory, and much of the issue’s charm and enjoyment comes from seeing Revival’s setting and characters reimagined in Guillory’s signature style. Seeing Dana with those pursed lips is about as close to culture shock as one can get just from reading. The story itself is a simple one, and involves a chef who is “handed” a big opportunity to make better food. Only it involved the death and dismemberment of another person, so our two teams of crimesolvers get together to figure it out. You’ll find a lot of goofy puns, some awesome gore, character cameos, and John getting carnal with someone he shouldn’t. Plus, Wausau has a real live chicken restaurant!
The second half of the story, told by Seeley and Norton, involves a rash of empty graves in a town near Wausau. This tale is a much more somber and scary one, though Tony’s powers are the source for much of the humor. (“Two Leinie’s and a beet neat.”) John is left behind for this adventure, and it’s just Tony trying to figure out what’s going on, though the audience is already aware, thanks to a really creepy first page. Beyond the interesting story, the best part of this segment is Norton’s take on Tony’s square-grid power trip, mimicking Guillory’s motif perfectly, only darker.
All in all, I prefer the first part, since Chew’s sense of humor is more original than Revival’s sense of horrific despair. But comparisons are useless, and I wouldn’t change the second story for anything, unless of course it would be to get an entire series of these characters dipping in and out of each other’s lives. Maybe Tony and Dana could go on a date or something…but not at a restaurant.
Hit the link for this week’s new sci-fi comic lineup!