Law Text Culture


The first issue of John Layman and Rob Guillory’s Chew was released in June 2009 by Image Comics at a time when the American comic book market was so dominated by stories written within the superhero genre that ‘comic books and superheroes [had] almost become synonyms’ (Rhodes 2008: 6). Within this superhero market, Chew was remarkably not a comic book about a superhero. Instead, Chew is a New York Times bestselling, Eisner award-winning series about Tony Chu, a Chinese- American cibopath. As a neologism created by the comic’s authors, cibopathy describes the ability to receive psychic impressions from whatever one eats. Although Chu has this extraordinary ability, he does not have a secret identity, a costume, an origin story or a mission to save the world from evil. Instead, Tony works as a detective for the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a possible future where the FDA has become the most powerful government agency in the world. While the Department of Homeland Security enhanced the scope of police powers as a result of the catastrophic events associated with September 11 in our reality, the FDA has done the same in response to the devastating events associated with an avian flu epidemic in Chew’s alternate reality.