Review: ‘Outer Darkness/Chew’ #2 Offers Up Gourmet Sci-Fi By Layman, Chu And Guillory

by Olly MacNamee

For fans of Star Trek The Next Generation, John Layman, Afu Chan and Rob Guillory’s Outer Darkness/Chew #2 will certainly hit the right chord as we get a brilliant account of how exactly Tony Chun and John Colby end up on the Charon spaceship hundreds of years from home. It’s a rather nifty reveal at the start of this sophomore issue and one that I don’t think anyone could have seen coming, given we were all obviously expecting time travel to be the reason these flat foots are now here. But it isn’t and if anyone was thinking the ‘Chewnivesre’ is in any way related to that of Outer Darkness, you’d be very much mistaken. It’s also, I’m my opinion, a testament to Layman’s skills as a storyteller too. It makes for one Hell of a set-up for this cross-over series that leans heavily on the sci-fi, wallowing in it’s entertaining and humorous reinterpretation of some of science fiction, and the Star Trek franchise’s familiar tropes that regular fans of Outer Darkness have come to love. Let’s just say it involves holodecks and I’m sure you’ll be able to work it out for yourselves from there. Holodecks that are introduced in this issue’s prologue in which meters of the Charon while away their time reimagining Brontë sisters or Jan Austen novels, but with that now familiar horrific twist. Pride, Prejudice and Killer Aliens. 

Needless to say, once Tony and John do realise their existence is somewhat ethereal, shall we say, it’s not long before Colby hatches onto a plan that will see him freed from his holographic shackles and start a new life amongst the stars. It’s a subplot that joyously derails what we all assumed was the main plot – a sit-down meeting with the Cibulaxians who only communicate through food – promising far more entertainment instead. And thus we have enough meat on the bone to kick-start this thinly veiled excuse, by Layman and pals, to have more fun in space, but now with the added value of Colby and Chew. A tasty prospect. 

Afu Chan does most of the heavy lifting on this issue but it’s great to see his distinct take on Tony and John. Both are instantly recognisable, but with a dash of manga thrown in to keep the style in line with the rest of the shenanigans going on in this issue. Guillory contributes to the final splash page which, again, will have Chew fans chomping at the bit for more. Luckily, with comic book distribution getting someways back to normal, here’s hoping that won’t be too far off now. This is certainly some gourmet sci-fi right here.

Having Tony and John onboard also allows Layman the chance to catch new readers up on the more Lovcraftain elements of the Outer Darkness universe, and I’m hoping enough enjoy this concept that they will seek out the previous two Outer Darkness trades and ask for a second series. If for nothing more than I wanna know where this space faring saga is heading, given the cliffhanger the regular series ended on.

As Layman himself admits in this issue’s letter column, it’s fun catching up with Chew and Colby again and while this short mini-series has only got one issue left to run, it makes for a nice appetiser ahead of the newly revealed Chu series coming this summer from Image Comics. Chewrrific!

You can read all our Outer Darkness coverage and reviews, starting here.

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