Chu is Image Comics’ spinoff series set in the world of the “CHEW” comic series. This humor/crime comic by writer John Layman and artist Dan Boultwood has had a great start. With the same energy and flow of the first three issues, the latest issue is as sublime as it should be.

This food-noir comic follows Saffron Chu, a criminal and a cibopars, meaning she can learn psychic information from those around her that she eats with. Her brother Tony Chu is a cop and cibopath, can solve crimes by receiving information from what he eats, it can be food or even people. It means he can read the memories and history of everything he consumes. Tony is unaware of his sister’s secret life. 

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Saffron Chu stands out as the polar opposite character of her brother Tony. Set in a world that is suffering from a catastrophic outbreak of avian flu. According to Layman, Chu is Better Call Saul to Chew’s Breaking Bad — two stories set in the same universe, with obvious connections, but widely different in pace, tone, even structure. In that way, Chu is considered as a pseudo-prequel to Chew.

A Quick Chu Recap

In the first issue, we meet two criminals Saffron Chu and Eddie Molay. Their heist of robbing gangster Don Bucatini went wrong as the result of the flu but Saffron and Eddie managed to escape. Her brother Tony Chu takes up this case. In the second issue, we meet Saffron’s twin sister, Sage Chu, who also got food powers and we see the ripple effects of the heist gone wrong.

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Bucatini sends a hitman named Mr. Murder to track down Saffron and her crew members for attempting to rob him. For Saffron’s safety Eddie misguide’s the hitman to Sage. The third issue sees Saffron Chu rushing to Shady Rest Assisted Living Facility, where she confronts Mr. Murder before he mistakenly kills her sister. Saffron had to kill for the first time in her life, even after that mess she had to go for the second kill as other contract killers are onto them. And this cycle will only be the beginning of Saffron’s crime career.

I am not sold on Saffron’s love interest. Even though we don’t know the depths of Saffron and Eddie’s relationship it is clear that Eddie Molay is not a good match for Saffron. She needs to cut him loose as he is a bad influence on her. He never truly listens to Saffron’s opinion, he makes bad decisions and almost got her sister Sage killed.

The first three issues were on par with the Chew comics. Issue #4 is part 4 of “THE FIRST COURSE” The main arc of this five installment series is brewing up to be a delectable cat-and-mouse story. It’s funny, dark, serious, but above all else advances to push itself out of the shadow of the original series. In this issue, both leads Tony Chu and Saffron Chu are about to find each other on the opposite ends.

STORY: THE FIRST COURSE- PART 4 of 5

Chu #4 follows the aftermath of Saffron killing the second hitman Mr. Papers. The Bird flu has both direct and indirect effects on Saffron’s life which will be a major turning point in Tony’s investigation. This series is filled with the familiar tropes but they are twisted in very fun ways that you expect from the Chew universe and still manages to feel fresh. With each issue, the story continues to be more interesting.

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Along with the story, a simultaneous background narration is going on from the very beginning, it adds a whole new flavour to the story. This issue is divided into parts and told in an interesting order, often jumping back and forth between Saffron and Eddie, Tony and his new partner John Colby and an aquarium which we later catch up on as the story progresses.

The prologue begins with Eddie’s efforts to get rid of the dead body, he decides to use the last of their savings to find a way to dispose of Mr. Paper’s body. They both take off on separate agendas that are going to affect one another equally. Saffron decides to recuperate their finances.

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It’s here that we further witness Saffron’s con artist skills, shifting her towards criminal status. She goes to a jewelry convention and the whole thing plays out with the usual Layman humour and wittily grouped dialogue. To dupe some jewelry from an unlucky rich guy, she needs to look the part. And Boultwood designed a perfect and appealing dress for her to succeed in the task by distracting the jewelers with her beauty. From there it’s a solid read filled with the usual laughable creative moments you expect from Chu.

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On this heist, Eddie crosses the line again making him less likable. The next day Eddie suggests splitting the cash and leaving town for a while but Saffron refuses to disappear suddenly. Eddie drops her at Saffron’s home once again for Sunday family dinner tradition. Then the story cutbacks to Tony and John investing at the aquarium on a case from which they’re about to find out a clue on the Bucatini heist case and it was possible because of the Bird flu.

It’s a fast-paced fun read that delivers a lot of information through dialogues and background narration. Similar to the bizarre ending of Chu #3, this issue has a cliffhanger ending which will make you so eager to come back to read the next one. A collision course begins and we are going to see Tony and Saffron against one another in Chu #5.

CHU Is Rich In Writing And Art

With four books in and it feels like the craziness is just getting started. This is a very well-written comic, packed with many entertaining elements and incredible characters. The new characters so far stand on their own, pretty solidly. Layman proves to be great at creating interesting, unique, and fun characters. The writing and art get better with each issue.

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Dan Boultwood’s art continues to do this universe justice. Overall, the artwork in Chu #4 is terrific and just makes you want to keep reading this book. His panel layouts are filled with eye-popping colors, quite detailed, clean, and pretty cartoony, bringing a balanced tone to the story. He’s very good at making each character design so distinct. The Chew artist Rob Guillory would be proud.

As a whole, this issue was a blast to read and increases your enthusiasm to read the next. It does not spare any time and kicks the story into high gear while supplying plenty of humor and a type of twisted action that writer John Layman always perfectly delivers. You have to read this series, while it’s still in single digits. 

The Illuminerdi highly recommends picking up CHU issue #4. CHU returns with issue #5 on November 25th, 2020. Be sure to check back for our review!

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What were you’re thoughts on CHU #4? Are looking forward to the next issue? Are you going to continue reading the series? Let us know in the comments below on our social media and be sure to come back to The Illuminerdi for more comic reviews in the future.

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Source: Image Comics