DEATH BY CHOCOLATE: REDUX (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Death by Chocolate: Redux includes almost all of author David Yurkovich’s self-published stories of Agent C. Swete – a confectioner-turned-chocolate-man that works for the FBI’s Food Crimes Division. After a tragic accident involving a Swiss chocolate factory and a captive alien life-form, Swete’s body turns to living chocolate. He also possesses the power to transform anything into chocolate, leading to a tragic accident involving an angry mob and an entire town that disappears overnight. After running from the law for a while, the FBI eventually recruits Swete to hunt down another chocolate man – one created after an unscrupulous scientist steals one of Swete’s fingers to replicate him. The later stories involve the fate of the town Swete turns to chocolate, a time-traveling dog that wants to meet Ernest Hemingway, and a terminally ill mobster trying to hunt down the Eternity Pasta – a batch of spaghetti that endows whoever eats it with immortality.
In Death by Chocolate: Redux, Yurkovich hits on an often-unexplored basis for super-heroism – food and eating. It seems that superhero comics and, indeed, much of pop culture have an uneasy relationship with food, and often prefer to relegate it to the background. But, rather than just incorporate it into the story by acknowledging that his characters, like most people, have to eat three or more times a day, he brings it to the forefront in the same manner that Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie treat sexuality in Lost Girls – by acknowledging its predominance in our own lives through explosive, near-anarchic thematic exploration. In Death by Chocolate, Yurkovich shows food in all of its glory and horror – as sustenance, as recreation, as addiction, and as psychosis. And, like Lost Girls, he forces the reader to acknowledge that, regardless of what movies, television, billboards, and fashion shows may imply, we all eat – often too much or not enough. Yet, we maintain an uncomfortable relationship to our food, depending on it, loving it, and hating its effect on our bodies at the same time. We seek an elusive sense of balance that Swete ultimately finds by the end of this volume – a peace that acknowledges his circumstances, for better or worse, and drives him forward, understanding that he can only make the best of it.
Yurkovich has touched up his own art from the earlier printings collected in this volume. He makes heavy use of Photoshop, which alternately lends a distant, impressionistic feel to the story with a distinctly artificial quality that proves, at times, distracting. He has drawn the entire volume in black and white, with gray tones mixed throughout, giving his examination of food and eating an even starker quality than it might with more colors. He almost literally throws consumption in your face and treats the reader like a patient at an eating disorder clinic – accept what you are or die denying it. Like chocolate, there is light and dark, and a refusal of our humanity will undoubtedly lead to the latter.
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Mania Grade: A-
Authors: David Yurkovich
Publisher: Top Shelf