Writer: John Layman
Art: Dan Boultwood
The saying goes: if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. Well, Chu looks a fair bit like Chew, and it sounds a lot like Chew, but Chew it is not. If there was any doubt before, the resolution to “(She) Drunk History” lays it to rest.
Like Chew, Chu dons the guise of a Disney-does-Archie web comic, a visual subversion of the book’s unrepentantly violent innards. The key difference is that the piles of organs and brains in Chew were left by a moral, law-abiding man inflicting pain on scummy criminals and villains bent on world domination/destruction.
Saffron Chu, meanwhile, kills, incapacitates, and manipulates her way toward the title of crime lord, and Chu #10 sees her making big moves. If readers can toss aside moral compunction, they’ll likely enjoy Chu as much as Chew. For others, it may become apparent that 10 issues into the series, we still don’t know much about Saffron. That is, beyond her willingness to blow people’s brains out and manipulate the elderly.
Chew #10 does not give us much more insight into Saffron’s mind, but it does see her elevate her status in the criminal underworld through a series of clever maneuvers. These maneuvers allow Dan Boultwood to flex his vibrant, picaresque art in various ways, from a lovely opening shot of the modern Louvre to a charmingly designed Victorian-era Saffron. A portrait of Saffron, the key to the heist, is a particularly wonderful creation by Boultwood, who both draws and colors the series.
John Layman’s storytelling is strong as ever. The book’s first arc had to set the table, so to speak, but getting into Saffron’s various schemes and scores opens up a whole new world of possibilities for a man whose imagination has never before indicated limitations.
That said, Saffron’s cibopars powers have already grown a bit repetitive. Tony’s baseline power was sickly compelling to start and evolved considerably over the series run. Chu obviously has plenty of time to expand Saffron as both a character and food mutant, but her eating the same thing as someone else and achieving instant victory has already grown stale.
Saffron’s relationship with abusive beau Eddie Molay is especially distressing. Eddie is the lowest of lowlifes. An abuser of women, a man who gets a kick out of pushing an old man into traffic. And yet, Chu positions him as hapless comic relief. As our time travelling art heist comes to a close, Eddie sets his sights on Saffron’s new accomplice, Ms. Cookie. When these two come to blows, it would be best if he comes up short, preferably fatally so.
With “(She) Drunk History” coming to a close, we’ve seen two heists-gone-wrong now. One can’t help but wonder what bigger scores await!
Saffron needs a lot more development as a character, but if you don't mind a "darker" side to the Chew-niverse, this issue should get you very excited in regards to what comes next.