Writer: Joseph Keatinge
Artist: Wook Jin Clark
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Xoo and her faithful dog Buster are attempting to become chefs in a world where they are revered like sports stars and cooking is life. Let me stop you right there, this concept seems familiar right? Well that’s because it isn’t all that original to me. When I first heard about the concept, I immediately thought about the cartoon network show, Chowder because it has some of the same elements. As well as the Image book, Starve, which is a far more violent take on the concept. Flavor has far more in common with Chowder, with just a little hint of Starve. The art style reminded me of Seconds, from Bryan Lee O’Malley as well. For what it lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in the art and colors.
Keatinge has set up each comic to feel very episodic. There is a small layer of the mystery peeled back while simultaneously adding another layer to it. Each issue ends on a cliffhanger which provides that TV feel to the comic. So far I am really enjoying the character of Xoo and Buster (who absolutely steals the show.) Clark’s art is incredibly detailed, and fits the overall style of the book well. The first page of a sprawling cityscape sets the tone for his art and is very enjoyable to look at and pour over. Bonvillain’s colors are impressive as usual, she brings Clark’s art to life and really makes us believe that we are in this magical world with lush and bright color choices.
I’m just not a huge fan of the writing, I read Keatinge’s Shutter, which I thought was really well done, but there are some choices here that only serve to confuse me more. One of the problems is that of Xoo’s parents. Initially the way it is conveyed to us is that she is on her own and her parents seemingly are in a coma. One character even says: Her parents show no signs of recovery. That is why she needs a caretaker in the form of her Uncle Lim. However, later we find out they are indeed both alive and well but confined to wheelchairs due to an accident (possibly?). With that being said, Keatinge does a great job of setting up several mysteries: why are the people of the walled city being sacrificed to this smoke monster? What is the smoke monster? What happened with Xoo’s parents? How can Xoo understand Buster? What is Uncle Lim’s tattoo?
I think this book is great for pre-teens and possibly younger children, depending upon their maturity level. It is a light-hearted, feel good comic with a splash of darkness (see what I did there?) in it, which could prove to be entertaining for adults. I’m calling it now, I will be very surprised if this book doesn’t get turned into a tv show or a movie because it is ripe for that kind of treatment.
Rating: 7 out of 10 stars.