Image Comics Review: Chu Volume 1- The First Course
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Written and Lettered By: John Layman
Art and Colors By: Dan Boultwood
Reviewed By: Kendra Hale
To say I was stunned by Chu is an understatement. Chu is the continuing saga of the Chu family and telling specifically the story of Saffron Chu. Now there are in fact 12 trades that came before this series but those are to deal with Tony Chu, Saffron’s brother. However, it isn’t vital to have read those volumes in order to follow or understand what is going on in Chu Volume 1, Though I am sure it may have helped. But after spending the time in this world that I did, going back and spending more time is an absolute must.
That said I can only go off of the parts of the Chu family story that I have read. This being my first foray into their lives, that is the information I will go off of. To say that spoilers may happen due to this is necessary. Let’s begin.
Cloaked Figures, Code Names, Capers
Saffron Chu is a criminal plain and not so simple. A questionable taste in men and quite the unique talent, Saffron is a thief and advanced reconnaissance specialist. Her boyfriend Eddie has a debt and with Saffron they are on a job to get him out of trouble…if all goes well. However, stealing money from the number one mobster on behalf of the number two mobster in the city…is already setting things up for failure. Throw in the fact that a illness from people eating chicken is kinking up the plans…and you have a recipe base.
Collecting issues 1-5 of the series, we get to see a deeper look into the Chu family and watch sister go against brother as Tony is a detective tasked with solving crimes Saffron…has a hand in. Along the way we get introduced to all kinds of intriguing characters from FBI agent Jack Colby and the other siblings in the Chu family. But the Chu family seem to have some interesting talents of their own in this world of food noir. Saffron is a Cibopar and able to learn from those she eats with, while Tony is a Cibopath and gets psychic impressions from what or who he eats.
It is sister versus brother and there are plenty of secrets hiding in the Chu family to unearth.
John Laymon and Dan Boultwood have given readers a complete world already with the Chew series that came before. But Chu is full of humor and such a unique and enthralling concept. The team is amazing as writing and art mesh seamlessly. I love the style that mirrors a lot of popular animation styles, it reminds me of Carmen Sandiego on Netflix. But being reminiscent isn’t saying that Chu isn’t unique by any measure.
Chu draws you in and keeps you on your feet. One of my favorite moments is at the traditional Sunday dinners at the eldest sister Rosemary’s home. Each of the Chu siblings in introduced and while two are not there, we get these ghost style versions of them with their information. I love this because it gives a visual representation of who they are so we recognize them going forward. A small but greatly appreciated gesture.
The series is so thoughtful and laid out so well that even for someone like myself taking a first step into this world, it was like I had always been there looking in on the Chu family and their exploits. I found absolutely nothing wrong with this series.
I get so lucky as to read some really great and well crafted stories, Chu Volume 1- The First Course was wonderful. I finished the book so quickly and am not only hungry for what is to come for Saffron’s story but will absolutely be picking up on the series before it with Chew. If you happen to be looking for a guilty pleasure full of food, fun, and action…this is it. Do it.
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