Brian Wood's Starve, Volume One (collecting issues 1-5) was the best, meanest new graphic novel debut since Transmetropolitan; now, with Starve, Volume Two (issues 6-10), Wood brings the story in for a conclusion that is triumphant and wicked and eminently satisfying, without being pat.

In the first half of Starve, we met Gavin Cruikshank, a celebrity chef whose stellar career imploded with his TV network, leading to him abandoning his family and going into exile — until the network was reborn, and they sent their debt-collectors after him, literally dragging him home to finish out his contract amid a one-percent/inequality apocalypse swimming in the rising seas of climate change.

Cruikshank's return to Starve — his impossibly high-stakes cook-off TV show — also means a return to his righteously furious ex-wife (she'd had him declared dead), his estranged daughter, and the frenemies of his celebrity days. What follows is a revenge tale full of low cunning, remorseless savagery, and mouth-watering cuisine.

Volume Two alternates between ratcheting up the tension and the stakes, and giving Gavin Cruikshank a chance to set up and hatch a glorious plan that's one part revenge, one part reconciliation, giving him a crack at selflessness and redemption without ever promising that it'll come to pass.

More than being a delicious revenge tale, Starve is revealed as an insightful treatise on food and luxury, class war and self-help, trust and making amends. At ten issues, Starve is a tight, taut story that will make your mouth water even as it has you punching the air in triumph. Between this and William Gibson's five-issue Archangel comic, we're living through an era of disciplined, contained comics storytelling that knows enough to quit while it's ahead and always leave 'em wanting more.

Starve, Volume Two [Brian Wood, Danijel Zezelj, Dave Stewart and Steven Wands/Image]