"Chew / Revival #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by John Layman and Tim Seeley
Illustrated by Rob Guillory and Mike Norton
40 Pages, $4.99
Comic released on May 28th, 2014
As a kid, seeing a super hero pop up in another character's comic was a treat. If Daredevil showed up in The Amazing Spider-Man, it was a fun crossover. With the current onslaught of big event books, it seems like all of the characters are just constantly hanging around each other now. That isn't the case with the rest of the industry where crossovers are much more rare. The creative teams behind Chew and Revival decided to give it a try and cross the streams a bit in a special one-shot issue.
When this was first announced, I didn't know what to think. While Chew and Revival are both solid comics, they're very different in tone. The former is a more humorous book, starring Tony Chu, a cibopath (gets physic impressions from what he eats) working for the FDA in a world where chicken is illegal after the avian flu killed a bunch of people. His partner is now part robot after taking a meat cleaver to the face. It's wacky and silly and fun. Revival on the other hand is a bit more serious, dealing with Wausau, Wisconsin; a small town in which several dead people got up and went back to their regular lives. It's described as a “rural noir.”
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The comic is actually presented as a flip book with two separate stories. John Layman and Rob Guillory tell a tale that brings Chu and his partner John Colby to Wausau to investigate the black market trade of human body parts. It seems that people will pay a pretty penny for Reviver limbs, thinking that it could give them eternal life. The story fits in with the tone of Chew and takes place within the overall storyline.
Guillory's artwork is fun and filled with sight gags. I really want to see Chew as an animated TV show because Guillory's style would line up perfectly for it. The facial expressions on his characters can make a scene, whether it's Colby's shit-eating grin or Chu's annoyed furrowed brow. It's this reason that violence comes off as a complete shock and a bit hilarious when it does appear. Seeing someone take a huge knife to the face all of a sudden with a large “THUCK” and the characters' uncomfortable reaction to it is priceless.
On the other end of the issue, Tim Seeley and Mike Norton share a story that uses the same black market Reviver body part trade as the Chew-centric one, but provide a much more terrifying angle. It's not a cut-and-dry grave robbery. It ends up being something far more disturbing and even a little sad. It brings forth the loneliness that can come from growing old and watching your closest friends die off.
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Norton simultaneously captures the innocence of a small town and the severity of a multiple corpse abduction with his artwork. It's like Law and Order: Reviver Unit as Officer Dana Cypress tracks down the culprit on a recent grave robbery. She's serious in her job and while she cracks jokes, she's never depicted as being cartoony. Norton manages to tone down the wackiness of Chu's character and abilities, presenting them in a way that makes sense in a world where the dead came back to life. The climax of the story is a scene that would make Jame Gumb uneasy. I've come back to these pages a few times now and each time I look at them, I get a shiver up my spine.
Chew / Revival is the kind of comic I wish happened more often. Two books that don't seem to totally mesh together on the surface have found a way to weave their storylines through one another. I'm not expecting them to make this a regular occurrence or even to do it again. The fact that it happened at all is pretty awesome. There's even a nod to another popular Image comic in the issue. This does beg the question: What other crossovers can the publisher get through? Can we get a Ghosted / Hoax Hunters mash up? What about Walking Dead and '68?