Title: Flavor #2
Script: Joseph Keatinge
Pencils: Wook Jin Clark
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain
Letters: Ariana Maher
Culinary Consultant: Ali Bouzari
Publication Date: June, 2018
Publisher’s Summary: The second chapter of Image’s culinary-fantasy epic sees its head chef descending into the underworld for help when society fails her. PLUS!: Every issue includes exclusive bonus materials by the creative team and famed author of Ingredient: Unveiling the Essential Elements of Food, ALI BOUZARI!
Damn, Flavor #2 is an excellent book. The first issue of Flavor was really strong; a nearly flawless introduction to this interesting new world that Keatinge and Co. have created. This issue builds on that start. In this issue, we are shown how the upper class of this society are trained in the culinary arts courtesy of a new character, Anant. We likewise see that he has some connection to Xoo, our main character, that is as of yet unrevealed. Meanwhile, Xoo and her Uncle Geoff are building their relationship at the restaurant. After closing time at the restaurant, they go their separate ways with Uncle Geoff going for a drink and Xoo going on a quest of her own where we learn more about each of them.
The writing in this series continues to shine. Keatinge reveals the details of the world in small bites. However, with each reveal, a new question or mystery is presented which builds upon the depth of the story and setting. So many elements of this story are unique and strange but fit together so well. I mean the main character has a dog, Buster, that has some human elements and that she can communicate with. Of course buster only communicates in “ruffs” but Xoo has complete conversations with him. I have no idea if this is a unique ability of hers or just the way things work here. What is striking is that as weird as it is, this never feels out of place and I never questioned it because of the way it is integrated into the story. It just flows and you accept it.
There is so much going on in this series but at no point does it feel overwhelming to the reader. In fact my one complaint is that there is a brief synopsis of the story and series at the beginning of the book. Many comics do this, I assume, to make them more accessible to new readers. In this case, I absolutely hate it. This comic does such an extraordinary job in letting the reader explore the world and revealing it piece by piece. I love each new detail that I discover. It is one of those comics that I can’t wait to turn the page and see what is coming next. But this synopsis took some of that discovery away from me. It reveals that “food is the ultimate commodity and chefs are the ultimate celebrities”. This is kind of alluded to in issue #1 but I would have rather puzzled that together from the story than be told outright. Likewise the name of the city, The Bowl, which was a mystery in the first issue, is just stated. This was another question I had been wondering and hoped to discover through the story. Now these are minor points in an otherwise brilliant book but they still left me with a sense of disappointment.
One can’t forget about the art by Wook Jin Clark. The way he draws each character is simply charming. From the gruff culinary headmaster to Uncle Geoff’s bar fight, to Buster wearing a mustache disguise, every scene just seems to ooze style and kinetic energy. While this is not a hyper realistic/detailed style, there are so many little nuances that are captured on each page. It is a book that one could easily remove all text from and still enjoy an amazing story.
The Bottom Line:
If issue #1 of Flavor whet your appetite, then the morsels in this issue will surely satisfy you. Outstanding writing and art build a story that is appealing on multiple levels and is a must read this month.