Endings are weird. They’re incredibly common, but they freak me out. Whenever I finish a book, I always feel distressed and empty, despite my brain being a little bit fuller (apart from that time I read Russell Brand’s autobiography, lost a couple brain cells on that one). At some point, your game of Pac-Man is going to end, no matter how well you dodge the ghosts, because the kill screen on level 256 is always waiting in the wings. Not to be too deep, but get this: Life ends.
Comics are a respite from endings. Some heroes have been doing the same thing for over fifty years and they aren’t slowing down. Single issues end, but you always know that in two weeks Spiderman will swing back, Batman will punch another goon in the chest and Hulk will smash yet again. It’s an infinite, comforting cycle.
Which is why Chew scares me. Detective Tony Chu is a Cibopath, meaning he can tell where something comes from by eating it. He could eat an apple and get a feeling of what tree it came from, what pesticides were used and when it was harvested. Or he could eat a burger and feel something completely different and completely awful. Or, he could take a bite out of a person, as he so often is force to when solving crimes. Cibopathy is incredibly rare in the Chew universe (or Chewniverse (or not)), he’s not the only one, and it’s certainly not the only weird thing around. Vampires, alien fruit and the scariest rooster you’ve ever seen all pile up in front of Tony, and he’s not too happy about any of it.
I love Chew. The story is wild, the jokes are sharp as a tiger’s incisor and the art hits a great balance between cartoon craziness and slasher movie style gore. It’s amazing, but it’s going to end. The writer, John Layman, has the whole story planned out, to the point where they were able to release issue #27 out of order, after issue #18. In issue #23, there’s a flash forward to one panel from #60, the final issue of Chew. While that’s not exactly round the corner, it should be about three years to reach the end, it will eventually happen and make me feel like I’ve lost a friend or a pet or a really nice pair of shoes.
It’s not a bad thing. Having an actual plan means that the narrative has been considered. Chew doesn’t suffer from the Lost affliction, where it seemed as if the writers were making it up as they went along, despite assuring us that everything was plotted from the start. Pacing would also have been laboured over, ensuring that the story moves along smoothly instead of slowly flailing around like so many never-ending Captain America arcs do. Chew never lingers too long on one sub plot. I could easily describe it as snappy, if I was the kind of asshole that uses the word snappy to describe things.
Some things just need to end. The Simpsons needs to end. CSI, in all its forms, needs to end. Chew needs to end, but for different reasons. It’s too good to survive forever. I’m not happy about it, but least Chew won’t outstay its welcome. I suppose it’s better to be prepared for that end instead of it coming out of nowhere.