This penultimate volume doesn’t get off to the best of starts. Sure it shows us Toni Chu in Heaven making nice with Abraham Lincoln and Genghis Khan, but then it jumps over to showing us Olive Chu’s future career with the FDA. It’s good for some laughs, but its relevance to the main story is unclear at this point. Then the story jumps tracks again in the second issue to show us some of Mason Savoy’s history, the Pope getting on the anti-chicken bandwagon, Amelia’s writer’s block, and Tony and Colby heading off to Yamapalu (last visited in vol. 2) to get some answers. I realize that between this volume and the next, we’re down to the last ten issues of this series. It’s just that the opening issues here really had me worrying that writer John Layman didn’t have a plan for how to properly wrap up his signature series.
That doesn’t remain the case for long, thankfully. Once the focus shifts back to Tony and his onetime partner/longtime frenemy Mason Savoy things start settling down and the aim of this volume becomes clear. The Chu/Savoy rivalry has been a real driving force for the series and vol. 11 finally brings things to a head. While Savoy believes that the only way to stop the crisis heralded by the flaming alien letters in the sky is for he and Tony to start working together again, his former partner feels otherwise. For good reason — the whole ear-biting thing, Savoy’s ill-fated mentorship of Olive — I might add. It’s that justifiable animosity Tony feels towards his former partner that drives Savoy to some pretty desperate measures by the end of the volume. The final kiss-off (Or is it!?) from Savoy also feels perfectly appropriate given the tone of the series up until now.
Layman also has some other surprises in store for longtime readers, such as the fate of Amelia and some really big hints about the nature of the threat that the world is facing here. Those hints are pretty big, in fact, leaving me with a pretty good idea as to what Tony and his friends will be up against in the final volume. Between that, the eventual focus on Savoy and his motivations for doing what he does, and Rob Guillory’s always inventive art, vol. 11 is able to get things back on track and serve up some worthy buildup for the final volume. The inclusion of the “Chew/Revival” crossover here is gravy at this point. Regrettably, it just shows that the “Revival” team’s half of the crossover was the better one as Layman and Guillory’s efforts here wind up in “strenuously wacky” territory.