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Marvel Action: Chillers | Review

Marvel Action: Chillers coverMarvel Action: Chillers
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Artists: Gretel Lusky, Derek Charm, Bayleigh Underwood, Bowen McCurdy and others
IDW Publishing; $12.99

Last October IDW’s licensed Marvel Action line dabbled in all-ages horror by adding monsters and other spooky stuff to a new superhero team-up miniseries, and the results are now collected in Marvel Action: Chillers, another great book born of the unlikely collaboration between the two publishers.

As with the other original books for the line, it combines Marvel’s great characters with IDW’s kid-friendly comics-making knowhow, coming up with the sort of comic Marvel only too rarely seems capable of: One anyone, regardless of age or years steeped in Marvel fandom, can enjoy.

Jeremy Whitley, whose past work includes the excellent Unstoppable Wasp series for Marvel Entertainment proper, wrote the book as a series of stories within stories, all leading to a climax involving a half-dozen superheroes allied against a supernatural menace.

Gretel Lusky is the primary artist, drawing the framing sequences as well as the entirety of the fourth and final chapter (and the cover, above), while different artists handle each of the stories within the story—Derek Charm, Bayleigh Underwood, and Bowen McCurdy.

Ironheart Riri Williams pays a visit to mentor Iron Man’s laboratory, only to find the place trashed and Doctor Strange lurking there, poring over a mysterious book. The cursed tome is the Book of Shuma-Gorath, which, among its other evil properties, tells taunting stories directly to Strange, allowing for the stories within the story, the first of which involves Iron Man’s lab coming to life and trying to kill him under the book’s influence, and his ultimately being kidnapped by his own possessed armor.

The unlikely high-tech and magical duo of Ironheart and Strange set off with the book to find Iron Man, and they (and we the readers) encounter a few more team-ups along the way: Teenage English monster hunter Elsa Bloodstone finding and rescuing Captain America, who has been turned into a werewolf, and The Wasp and Spider-Man, the latter of whom has been turned into a nightmare version of Venom.

It all culminates in a final chapter featuring Dracula in Iron Man’s armor mesmerizing the entire population of New York City and attempting to bring Shuma-Gorath to Earth, while the ragtag group of heroes formulate a plan to stop him. It’s a pretty preposterous story, really—the last chapter is entitled “Tome of The Iron Dracula”—but in the way only really fun superhero comics can be preposterous.

Though there’s a range of art styles present in the book, from Charm’s smooth, simple, elegant cartooning to Lusky’s stylized, almost painterly artwork, the division of the narrative makes smart use of them all, making Chillers something of a hybrid anthology book.

Similarly, there are a lot of different characters in the book, but Whitley writes them all well, and finds ways to make their inclusion natural. It’s nice to see heroes already familiar from the Marvel Action line—movie stars like Iron Man, Captain America, Doctor Strange and Spider-Man—teaming up with newer, more minor characters like Ironheart, The Wasp and this new and original version of Elsa Bloodstone.

The spooky season these comics were originally created for may have passed, but well-made super-comics are welcome any time of year.

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J. Caleb Mozzocco About J. Caleb Mozzocco

J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.

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