Food For Thought: Tony Chu And The Gross Appeal Of Cibopathy

The idea of having superpowers can often be a thrilling one. How many of us have wondered what it would be like to fly or be able to stop time? Superheroes are regularly depicted using their powers to fight crime and save lives. But some powers aren’t glamorous. In the case of Tony Chu, they are a pain in the ass. Created by John Layman in the Chew series, Chu is a cibopath who gets psychic impressions from the food he eats.

In the world of Chew, chicken has been outlawed and the US Food and Drug Administration are seen as special agents that deal with all manner of food-related crimes. Chu is a former Philadelphia cop that joined the FDA. During an undercover operation, Chu tasted soup that allowed him to track down a serial killer. The killer refused to give up the location of his victims, so Chu resorted to biting off pieces of his flesh so he could find out where the bodies were. This led to the victims being found, but Chu was fired from his job.

This act highlighted the duality of Chu’s superpower. As a cibopath he can acquire knowledge through anything he eats. For example, if he were to eat an apple, Chu could find out where it was grown, how old it was and see what it came into contact with.

From an investigative standpoint, cibopathy is extremely useful because it’s allowed Chu to arrest criminals and save people. Cibopathy also allows someone to pick up new skills. A fellow cibopath called The Vampire consumed people so he could become stronger and gain new abilities.

There are also plenty of downfalls. Chu can’t enjoy eating because the psychic impressions he gets are too strong. Beets are the only food he can eat without his power taking effect. Chu has also been put in a variety of uncomfortable situations because of his ability. He was once faced with the prospect of literally eating shit in order to solve a crime. Chu has also needed to consume human flesh to help with an investigation, much to his disgust.

Cibopathy is certainly one of the most original superpowers created in recent years. It takes an everyday situation and turns it into a harrowing experience. Chu’s powers grant him the opportunity to be a true hero because being heroic isn’t meant to be easy. By eating things that repulse him, Chu has routinely put aside his own needs to do his job. He’s sacrificed his appetite and dignity on multiple occasions to try and make the world a better place. I see it as a commentary on how an average guy can make a real difference.

Chu’s abilities offer an insight into the darker side of superpowers. You can’t help but laugh at the scenarios he’s been placed in, even though you feel for him at the same time. Reading Chew has definitely made me more appreciative of being able to enjoy food.


Author: thecomicvault

A place for superheroes, positive mental health and pop culture references. Unlock your inner geek and step inside.

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