The fan-favorite cybernetic chicken goes to a fantasy land in new special.

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Poyo isn't clucking around in the regular Chew comic book or the homicidal cybernetic chicken's one-shot specials.

Chew: Warrior Chicken Poyo (out today) is the newest of the Image Comics issues that are "our every-other-year Michael Bay spectacular," says writer John Layman. And while 2012's Secret Agent Poyo fashioned evil-doers' fine-feathered foe as a superspy, the latest puts him in Lord of the Rings fantasy territory with whiffs of The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz.

"It's way crazier than the first one. This is pretty nuts," adds artist Rob Guillory.

Chew on the whole is a mix of different genres, and Warrior Chicken Poyo follows tradition: A wizard brings champions from various dimensions to save his land from a Groceryomancer, a villain who turns fruits and vegetables into dangerous, anthropomorphic beings.

"There's a giant mech shogun warrior robot, a Red Sonja type, a few Conans, an elf-like Legolas with bow and arrows, a space guy," Guillory says. Poyo, though? "He's the most badass of them all."

The artist has watched enough fantasy movies over the years to have an understanding of the aesthetic and also a good sense of humor when it comes to the tropes: There's a gag poking fun at the Hobbit Samwise and how he's always crying in The Lord of the Rings, and a huge panel of a cyclops fighting a dragon while a guy is running out of his house faster than his weeping lady.

"It's a new look at the same old fantasy stuff, but as a satire," Guillory says. "It still feels very Chew-esque, surprisingly."

While the regular series tends toward the insane — with its world centered on a guy who can solve crimes by getting psychic impressions from stuff he eats, including people — it does have its own rules.

But the Poyo specials give Layman and Guillory a way to toss all those out and have the character fight nutty creatures over double-page splash spreads and take him on really over-the-top adventures with time travel and dimension-hopping. (Fans of a certain popular Image series will appreciate the last page of Warrior Chicken Poyo.)

Poyo himself, however, is played pretty straight throughout since he's a warrior chicken of many killer moves but few words other than the occasional "bock."

"The funny thing is watching other people react to him," Guillory says. "All the other warriors respect him and think he's the greatest, but he doesn't even really acknowledge them.

"I mean, he's a chicken. It's pretty ridiculous."

By facing orcs, elves and all manner of things, Poyo is definitely a reactor within the story, Layman adds. "People are like, 'You should have a Poyo ongoing (series).' Rob doesn't have the time, but also Poyo is best doled out sparingly. How much mileage can you get out of a character who's a mean chicken that doesn't talk? Less is more."

Poyo's design has evolved since his first appearance in Chew No. 8, and Guillory figures he's grown more cartoony and emotive as he's fallen in love and embraced his inner anger over the course of more than 40 issues of Chew.

Layman figures there'll be one more Poyo special before Chew ends, with more of the bodaciously bad bird in the pages of the regular series, which will have an array of surprises for readers coming up.

"The bodies have just started dropping and it's going to be tough," the writer says. The first half of the series was for world building "and getting you to care, and the second half is resolving things and giving you an emotional response."

There have been some hard moments in the last 15 issues especially, but issues 44 and 45 are "going to freak people out," Guillory says. "The entire goal was to create a book that goes somewhere and is constantly changing, and its about to change in a big way."

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