Starve, Volume 1

Brian Wood (Writer), Danijel Žeželj (Illustrator), Dave Stewart (Colorist)

Image Comics, 2016

Brian Wood returns with another dystopian story about a celebrity chef pulled back into the world after going into self-imposed exile. Turns out that Gavin Cruikshank still owes his network episodes of the show he created. Starve was originally a celebration of food and cooking. In Gavin's absence his bitter ex-wife has had him declared legally dead and taken control of the show, turning it into an arena sport pitting chefs against each other for the pleasure of super-rich patrons.

In his absence things have changed pretty dramatically in the world at large. There's been a huge economic crash, dramatically increasing the distance between rich and poor--everyone but the very rich is having trouble just getting enough to eat. Sound familiar? The world of Starve is a more extreme version of the current situation. It's a dystopia, but not the total ecological disaster Wood created for his recent series The Massive. His cooking show is now the number one show on television, but it's much meaner than he intended it. It has become a battle between chefs, preparing expensive (and sometimes illegal) food for a panel of rich judges, presided over by his old rival chef Roman Algiers.

Gavin's wife Greer is bitter because he came out as gay after many years of marriage, years which she spent putting up with a lot of erratic behavior. But he was there for his daughter Angie--at least until he abandoned his family and ran off to Asia. She's an adult now, and Gavin needs her forgiveness more than anything else. Much of this first half of the miniseries--this volume collects five of the ten issues--revolves around their relationship. The fact that they even have a relationship drives Greer crazy, which Gavin takes a guilty pleasure in.

So Gavin returns to the show he created as a contestant. The competition becomes increasingly difficult, as Greer demands that Roman find a way to knock Gavin out of the running. Gavin is still a brilliant chef, and he's tougher and cleverer than anyone expected. Things come to a head in ways I won't spoil here, but Gavin ends this arc determined to get his show back--for the right reasons this time. He hates the way the honorable craft of cooking has been turned into blood sport, and he has promised Angie to make things right with her mother, as well. It will be fascinating to see how he accomplishes those goals in the second half of the series.

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