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"Meet Tony Chu. Tony Chu is almost always hungry, and almost never eats. Here's why:

Tony Chu is cibopathic. That means he can take a bite of an apple, and get a feeling in his head about what tree it grew from, what pesticides were used on the crop, and when it was harvested.

Or he could eat a hamburger, and flash onto something else entirely.

Strangely enough, the only food Tony Chu can eat and not get a psychic sensation from is beets. Consquently, Tony Chu eats a lot of beets."
—from Issue 1

In a World where the bird flu killed millions[1] and chicken has been outlawed, Tony Chu is a Philly cop struggling with the strange gift of cibopathy. When he is forced to work for the Food and Drug Administration (the most powerful government agency), he is partnered with a fellow cibopath, Agent Mason Savoy, in the Special Crimes Division. Together, they use their strange (and disgusting) ability to solve chicken and other food-related crimes. After Savoy betrays the FDA, Chu is partnered with John Colby, his old police partner who was turned into a cyborg after being injured on the job.

Chew is notable for having an ordinary (well, aside from the cibopathy) Asian-American for a protagonist, which is pretty rare in Western fiction. He doesn't even know kung fu!

A comic book series by John Layman and Rob Guillory, Vol 1-5 are now on sale. And they're awesome.

Not to be confused with The Chew, an ABC clone of The View that focuses on food.

Tropes used in Chew include:

  • Asian Gal with White Guy: Tony and Amelia are a Gender Inverted example.
  • Asshole Victim: The senator.
  • The Assimilator: The Vampire.
  • Arc Words: "I think it's a fruit."
    • "Vampires don't exist."
  • Badass: Mason Savoy vs. ninjas. Mason wins.
  • Badass Normal: Poyo was not exposed to radiation, trained by Tibetan monks, or bio-enhanced by aliens during their animal abduction sprees - he's just really, really bad ass.
  • Bad Boss: Mike Applebee, who hates Tony for no discernible reason and seems more concerned about torturing Tony than solving cases. Then Chu and Colby are transferred to other departments.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: Members include Chow (older brother, repeat chicken smuggler), Sage (younger sister, pyromaniac), Harold (younger brother, transvestite stripper), Rosemary (older sister, hates Tony's guts), Toni (twin sister, also a cibopath), and Olive (Tony's estranged daughter).
    • In the Major League Chew trade paperback, Toni is revealed to be cibovoyant, not a cibopath.
  • Bilingual Bonus: A good chunk of issue 4 is in transliterated Russian, which is largely correct and entirely relevant to the situation. Also, one of the characters is named Dr. Kvass.
  • Blessed with Suck: Cibopathy, oh so much.
  • Blood Sucking: The Vampire has discovered that cibopathy works nearly as well with blood as it does for flesh.
  • Boobs of Steel: Lin Sae Woo and all the other USDA agents.
  • Brown Note: Amelia Mintz.
  • Buddy Cop Show: The first chapter, as thoroughly lampshaded. It regains some elements once Colby returns as Chu's partner.

 Colby: What can I say, Chu? I'm the unhinged, break-any-rule, loose-cannon cop. You're the by-the-book square that never met a departmental regulation that you didn't love. That's why we work so well together.

  • Burger Fool: A particularly obnoxious one who refuses to give any information until being tricked into thinking the FDA would kill his whole family.
  • By-The-Book Cop: Mere pages in to the first issue, we see that Tony is willing to arrest his own brother.
  • Call Back: The panel in which Colby sleeps with his USDA boss is drawn exactly like the one where he sleeps with Applebee.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: The reason why Tony gets assigned to the FDA in the first place. Since Tony gets psychic impressions from anything he tastes, his jerk of a captain thinks its funny to send him to nibble on corpses, lick pools of blood or even eat poop to gather evidence. It is later revealed that cibopaths can also absorb a person's talents and abilities by eating parts of their bodies.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Several people in the Chewniverse believe that the truth behind the bird flu epidemic is being covered up by the government. This includes Tony's brother Chow, John Colby, the radicals of E.G.G., and Mason Savoy.
  • Cool Pet: Every member of the USDA gets a cyborg animal partner as part of standard procedure. Colby's is Mecha-Poyo.
  • Closet Key: Colby is this for Applebee. Colby sleeps with Applebee to buy Chu some time for his independently conducted investigation.
  • Cowboy Cop: Colby is gleefully willing to violate every bit of police protocol that gets in his way.
  • Eat That: What half of Chu's job consists of.
  • Epunymous Title
  • Everything's Better with Chickens, especially meals. Pity they're illegal...
  • Expy: Caesar Valenzano is very heavily based on Jules Winnfield.
  • Fangs Are Evil: The Vampire
  • Food Porn: In-story, Amelia's restaurant reviews, thanks to her powers. Her readers can literally taste the subject of her articles. This allows Tony to taste food that he can't eat without disgusting visions.
  • Genius' Sweet Tooth: Voresophics are capable of amazing Sherlock Scans (ie. capable of deducing the exact height, weight, race, gender, handedness, and weapon of a suspect, as well as brief summary of their background, simply from a couple of crime photos), provided they are eating.
  • Government Conspiracy: There are some who believe the government lied about the bird flu and the chicken embargo is illegal.
  • I Ate What?
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Antonelle Chew, Chew's fraternal twin sister is cibovoyant, but hides it because she doesn't wanted to be treated like a freakshow like Tony is.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Not intentionally, but taking a bite out of someone is the easiest way for a cibopath to to get the information they need out of a suspect.
  • Indulgent Fantasy Segue: Tony' first interaction with Amelia Mintz is considerably more romantic in his head than it was in reality.
  • Killer Rabbit: Poyo, the most lethal fighting cock in the world.
  • Love At First Sight: Tony with Amelia Mintz.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Mecha-Poyo.
  • The Mole: Mason Savoy
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: John Colby helps enforce the poultry prohibition while part of the Philadelphia PD and the FDA even though he strongly disagrees with it and believes that it is part of a government cover-up.
    • Tony Chu believes in enforcing the poultry prohibition because it is the law. His views on the law itself are unclear.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: As Mason said, "There's no such thing as vampires," but a cibopath known as the Vampire is more than happy to use the myth to his advantage.
  • Ordinary High School Student: Olivia Chu, morose and estranged teenage daughter of Tony Chu. Also a cibopath and new protege of Mason Savoy.
  • Picky Eater: Chu's menu (at least the one that doesn't involve chewing on murder victims) is very limited, thanks to the rather unpleasant images he can get from what he eats. Most of it consists of beets.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Min Tso for Chu. Amelia also has her own crazy ex, who stalks her at work and leaves very nasty and racist voice mails on her answering machine. He then kidnaps Chu for a very unusual form of research for a book about long-dead baseball players' sex lives. And after that he tries to sell Tony to the highest bidders.
  • Punny Name: Chu/chew
    • Many characters share there names with food or a restaurant. For Instance Chu's partners are Colby and Savoy and his FDA boss is Applebee.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Presumably, Chu doesn't get readings from his own saliva.
  • Serious Business: Chicken. Seriously.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Mason Savoy's perspicacity knows no bounds.
  • Shout-Out: Tony's cousin in the Thanksgiving scene can be seen reading a Tek Jansen comic book.
    • Savoy's nametag on his car mechanic disguise reads Hollis Mason.
    • Olivia and Peter from Fringe show up in the background of issue 15 investigating some 'weird stuff'.
    • For the International Butter Sculpting Championship, two men who look suspiciously like Trey Parker and Matt Stone make a butter sculpture of Butters.
    • Brown, the guy who can sculpt functional weapons out of chocolate, researches laser technology in a book that has a picture of a shark with a frickin' laser beam attached to its head.
  • Stout Strength: Mason
  • Straight Gay: Colby fits the "straight" part of this trope so well there seems to be a bit of confusion over whether or not he is actually gay. At one point he seduces Applebee and when he sends a taunting text to a criminal, his avatar is the Terminator robot on a rainbow flag background.
  • Supreme Chef: The Great Fatanyeros is capable of communicating the complete works of Shakespeare through food.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Tony's twin sister is cibovoyant and his daughter has an unknown food-related power as of issue #26.
  • Surveillance Station Slacker: can anyone say Gardner-Kvashennaya International Telescope?
  • Tastes Like Chicken: The gallsaberry is almost identical to chicken in taste when it's cooked. With the federal ban on poultry, this makes it very significant to the plot, and that's not considering the "fruit"'s probably extraterrestrial origin.
  • Theme Naming: A majority of the characters are either named after food or are related to eating or culinary arts in some way.
  • Through His Stomach: An unusual example - One of the reason Chu loves Amelia Mintz is that her writing lets Chu actually taste food without all the icky hangups he usually gets.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: For some inexplicable reason, Chu's cibopathy does not work on beets. Thus, he eats a lot of beets.
  • Two-Faced: After Colby gets a chef's knife to the face in the first issue, he returns with a Terminator-esque prosthetic.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Chu and Colby.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: What Amelia Mintz's writing can cause, when she wants it to.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Colby, and later Poyo.
  • We Can Rule Together: More like "We can uncover the truth about the bird flu epidemic together." Mason does this for both Chu and Colby. They both refuse.
  • Worthy Opponent: Mason still expresses respect for Tony, even after they become enemies.
  • Yandere: Toni's last girlfriend, Min Tso. He gave her an engagement ring. She cut off her toe and asked him to eat it so they could literally be a part of each other. The relationship went downhill fast.


  1. or is it all a government conspiracy?
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