On Nov. 23, 2016, the 60th issue of Chew hit shelves and gave a powerful and uncompromising conclusion to one of the most excitingly creative comic book series ever. Created and written by John Layman, and brought to life on the page by the dynamic, kaleidoscopic art of Rob Guillory, the series was set in a world in which psychic, superhuman powers were somewhat common place (and almost all related to food) After a mysterious, devastating bird flu killed 23 million Americans, the federal government put a prohibition on eating chicken, and the FDA and USDA became the two most powerful agencies in the country.
The series follows FDA Agent Tony Chu — a cibopath, which means he can get psychic impressions from the food he eats — as he investigates mysterious alien skywriting, an apocalyptic cult, seemingly traitorous fellow agents and a “vampire” who collects food-based superpowers by eating the people who possess them.
Now, nearly four years later, Layman — along with artist Dan Boultwood — is returning to that fantastical universe with his new series, Chu. Set before the events of the Chew saga, Chu tells the story of Tony’s younger sister, Saffron, a criminal thief with food-based powers of her own.
In excited celebration of this new dip into Layman’s wild, weird and wacky universe, we’ve gone back for a deep dive into the Chew-niverse — all 60 issues, as well as the Chew/Revival crossover and the one-shot, Chew: Demon Chicken Poyo — to create a comprehensive list of every food-based super power seen throughout the saga. Bon appetit! (AND.. Check out our podcast, for more super fun comic book talkery.)
NOTE: This list is presented alphabetically. Nearly all the language used to explain the powers is taken verbatim, or as close to verbatim as possible, from the comic, with slight modification to fit the style of the list. But seriously, all credit for the writing and explanations goes to John Layman. Also, some of the terms get a little squiggly when it comes to noun form vs. adjective form (i.e. Cibopath vs Cibopathic) but just, like, be cool.
The ability to take on the physical form of whatever you’ve just eaten.
Has lightning-fast reflexes after eating rabbit meat.
The ability to eat very fast. Like, superhumanly fast.
Has the ability to create ice cream that, when ingested, causes lethal freezing of the human cerebrum.
The ability to cook very fast.
The ability to identify weakness is his or her enemy.
The ability to gain incredible strength after ingesting even the smallest amount of food.
The ability to speak in the language of whatever nationality of the dish you cook.
The ability to communicate through food, and to translate any work — including plays, poems, or operas — into meals.
The ability to see the memories of anyone nearby eating the same thing.
The ability to psychically broadcast a meal as if it were a message.
The ability to get psychic impressions from anything you eat, which reveal the entire history of that food. Talented, trained cibopaths can also absorb or learn the abilities of others through consuming them.
The ability to bite anything alive and flash with eerie accuracy onto upcoming events in their lives.
The ability to read a menu in any language.
The ability to cook a single special gift that grants one an extraordinarily long life.
The ability to craft anything with monosaccharides glucose and fructose molecules into working, functioning machinery.
Some sort of carrot-based power. It’s difficult to tell, but it seems like it might be the ability to use carrots as dangerous projectile weapons.
The ability to create mind-controlling messages in espresso foam that compel those who drink the coffee into mindlessly doing your bidding.
The ability to take pictures of food that inspire erotic feelings, longing, and sexual desire in the viewer. (A food pornographer).
Has the ability to craft and control mashed potato golems to do his bidding.
Someone who has the ability to animate and control (angry) familiars out of the processed collagen of slaughtered animals. (Essentially, they can make jello animals that they can control.)
The ability to mold gelatin brains that have psychic powers and synaptic processing speeds of 1000 teraflops per second.
The ability to use gelatin to craft super-resilient armor and fully functional weaponry.
The ability to eat jello and communicate with anyone else who is eating jello.
The ability to grow fruits and vegetables of enormous sizes.
The ability to string guitars with pasta noodles.
The ability to seduce anyone you dine with.
The ability to hypnotize using peppermint candy.
The ability to mix drinks that compel those who drink them to reveal their secrets.
The ability to create a meal you can never forget.
The ability to cook memories into meals and dishes.
The ability to cook clam chowder that is both extremely poisonous and equally contagious.
The ability to produce keratin in the human unguis to a preternaturally accelerated rate after consuming French toast. (Essentially, when they eat French toast, they can instantly grow their nails into claws.)
Has the ability to increase their muscle mass and strength tenfold when wearing spaghetti (presumably on their head).
The ability to craft pickles that are both extremely sour and totally delicious.
The ability to produce flatulence more powerful than a 14-kiloton bomb.
Imperviousness to damage while your neurotransmitters are affected after the ingestion of psychotropic substances.
Has the ability to grow large, razor-sharp teeth when following a strict and relentless pescetarian diet.
The ability to consume fish to feed your brain, which literally becomes a giant fish.
The ability to regurgitate soup cooked with the legume Pisum Savitum (Green Peas) with the force and pressure of a dozen fire hoses. (*Seen in Chew: Demon Chicken Poyo)
The ability to suddenly excel at two dozen forms of lethal hand-to-hand combat upon the consumption of boiled lima beans.
The ingestion of a pomegranate has a preternatural restorative effect as well as other assorted anomalous benefits. (*As seen in Chew/Revival)
The ability to convey the sensation of flavor to characters, themes, and stories in your written words.
The ability to paint a picture of food that tastes deliciously like the food depicted.
The ability to write about food so accurately, so vividly and with such precision – people get the actual sensation of taste when reading about the meals that you describe.
The ability to assume the characteristics of any sugary snack or dessert confectionery he consumes.
The ability to cut tortillas into pointy things. Sharp and stabby things.
The ability to produce noxious eructation based on the age of what he eats.
The ability to drink sour milk and produce toxic and debilitating eructation (burps).
The ability to transport anyone dining in your presence to any geographical location based on the nationality of the food they’re eating, as well as the general time period from which their food originated.
Can heal quickly from even the most debilitating injury when well-fed.
The ability to craft a unique preparation out of food to make facial beauty masks that yield amazing, even impossible, transformational results.
The ability to imbue infectious properties into plant-based materials.
The ability to get enhanced muscle mass and strength from the ingestion of a specific vegetable (different for different people).
The ability to get stronger by eating spinach.
The ability to increase your intelligence while eating. It appears that the more you eat, the smarter you get, as well.
The ability to sculpt chocolate, and only chocolate, with such accuracy and verisimilitude that anything crafted can exactly mimic its real-life counterparts.
Peter Pilaf’s Power
Peter’s powers have not been fully determined, but he’s been able to create mind-controlling meals, transform food into monsters, reattach limbs with prosthetics made of plant material, and innumerable other superhuman feats. He’s also a real dick, but it’s unclear if that’s related his powers.
Special Agent Vorhees’ Power
FDA Agent Vorhees, who is almost entirely silent, has an unnamed power in which he can recite all the ingredients of any meal or food he eats. He may or may not also have an immunity to psychic food-based powers.
IF YOU LIKED THIS LIST…
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