For all the comic book fans out there, the end of an era came a few weeks ago with the final issue of John Layman and Rob Guillory’s fantastic series CHEW. I, myself, happened to be at a Chick-Fil-A when consuming the final two issues (totally by coincidence, I swear!). If you follow the series or have read the ending, you’ll know why this is particularly relevant.
CHEW was not only memorable for its unique storylines and stylized artwork, but also for the very notable fact that the central character is an Asian American agent of the FDA (yes, that’s right – the Food and Drug Administration) by the name of Tony Chu.
Outside of the play-on-words with regard to the main character’s surname and the fact that his special power had to do with consuming flesh (and being able to retrieve and experience the memories of whoever he bit/ate/chewed on), there wasn’t much attention drawn to the ethnic aspects of his character (or the supporting family members, many of whom were Asian Americans as well). Which is to say that it’s a refreshing thing to see, especially in a comic book world that’s had a history of exoticizing Asian characters or treating them as stereotypical or otherworldly (of course, as we all know, this has been highlighted by various feature film or television projects recently or soon-to-be released). As far as Chew was concerned, there was no problem with an Asian American in the lead role of an action-packed story that was equal parts sci-fi, action, horror, and humor with its share of aliens, cyborgs, cannibalism, and hallucinogenic frogs.
For anyone who hasn’t checked out the series yet, I encourage you to do so. And with the series now concluded, you can basically do the equivalent of a Netflix-style binge and read the entire saga from beginning-to-end without having to wait between episodes/issues.