Note: This review is part of a double-feature, in which we review the Chew/Revival crossover from the perspectives of fans of both series. You can find Asaph’s Chew-slanted review here.
There were three things I knew about Chew before diving into this one-shot. It was offbeat, slightly insane, and apparently riotously funny at times. After finishing, those were all completely confirmed. In one of the most delightfully unexpected crossovers in comics history, John Layman and Tim Seeley have taken their universes and slightly meshed them for two tonally-different stories. The decision to split the issue in two was a smart one. It works vastly better that way instead of a longer, mixed-art version. Both tales highlight what these series do best, and pave the way for unique Image couplings in the hopefully near future.
The Chew Story by John Layman and Rob Guillory:
Right off the bat, it’s evident how self-aware the writing is. Chew itself has a bizarre premise, and blended together with the living dead, it fully embraces the gross cocktail that readers get to drink up. Jokes come fast and furious, and most land quite well. Chew seems built on puns and clever delivery, which make for more than a few chuckles. Keep a close eye on every sign or board throughout the story because they contain hilarious send-ups of Revival‘s mostly serious world. “Warning! You will get Revived to death!”
The story, a high profile dismemberment case, takes Tony Chu and his robotic assistant around Wausau for a meet-and-greet with some of the main Revival characters. Plenty of snark ensues, along with some genuinely funny facial expressions. There’s a “dap” between Colby and Ramin that made me laugh out loud. The long scene inside a morgue is without a doubt the best part of the tale. Think Army of Darkness or even Re-Animator, but using these characters and world. It’s a horror-comedy dream come true.
Martha “Em” Cypress, Revival favorite of myself and many others, makes an appearance near the ending. It’s fun to see Rob Guillory draw her. Although mostly comedic, she gets some nice, bloody moments. Fans of Revival will enjoy seeing Guillory’s interpretations of each character, especially since the art is impressively detailed. He’s able to combine both with ease, taking the dreary, nuanced world of Wisconsin and tossing in bright colors and expressive sound effects. If little Cooper Cypress was watching a cartoon version of his world, this is probably what it would look like.
The Revival Story by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton:
That goofy Chew spirit must have grabbed Seeley as well, because the Revival side has more humor than usual. It’s still a more straightforward take on a deep, thematic subject, but the creators are able to have some fun along the way. I won’t spoil the surprise, but there’s a brilliant panel joking about a crossover with another massive Image series that’s sure to have fans laughing and wistfully wondering. Very meta, and it works. The main tale only focuses on Dana, Ramin and Tony, but their interplay and snappy dialogue is enough to carry the entire thing. It may not fill the “icky quota” like Layman’s version does, but that’s more in tone with how Revival works.
The mystery is solid, and there are even glimpses into the main plot that have never been explicitly stated in the past. The events happening are probably self-contained to this special though, outside of those small glimpses. The rest of the story is a mix of macabre and haunted sadness, a combination Revival does best. There are also plenty of references and in-jokes that fans of both will recognize. Tony Chu fuses well into our faction of government heroes. Even though this won’t happen, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him appear in the pages of Revival investigating yet another loose end.
Mike Norton continues his real world approach to artwork, and it’s quite a change from the previous story. I’m not totally sure how Chew looks month to month, but I imagine fans will find it special to see Tony so realistic. Everything else, from the Revivers to the snowy setting, is executed flawlessly. For those new to Revival, this is a common occurrence with the series. Come for high quality artwork and the lure of undead drama, stay for the surprisingly emotional moments and allegories. The one-short works in the exact same way.
Sadly, there are still plenty who’ve never read (or even heard of) Revival. This very unique crossover will certainly attract core fans of either book, but there’s lots to keep newcomers entertained. Certain jokes aside, this is a fantastic opportunity to see what it’s is all about. It would be easy to lump a recommendation into either the horror or comedy genre, but there’s something for everyone here. If “Chew/Revival #1″ sells well, we could see all sorts of tempting crossover ideas down the road. That’s an exciting possibility. A resounding success on both levels, this one-shot is grotesque in all the right ways. Give it a shot so we can see a second issue eventually. Highly Recommended.
“Chew/Revival #1″ earns a 9/10