Review: Mall #1 (Vault Comics)

The Pipedream offices are drowning in quality comics of late. While this in itself isn’t a change from the norm, what’s noticeable is that the majority appear to be from Vault comics who seem to be going hell for leather with releases. We take a look at veteran Vault creator Michael Moreci and his creative team’s new comic, Mall #1. But can Mall convince the readers to travel to its namesake to pick up a copy?

Publisher: Vault Comics
Writer: Michael Moreci, Gary Dauberman
Artist: Zak Hartong (Art), Addison Duke (Colours), Jim Campbell (Letters)
Price: £2.49/$3.99 at Comixology

In a world where the end has come, those who survive have found shelter and continued living inside the Mall. However, when one such denizen, Andre Walker, is found with the dead body of a rival clans leader, he is immediately sentenced to death by travelling outside their safe walls to the deadly world outside. But Andre isn’t ready to die and he sure didn’t kill anyone and so, with a cryptically dangerous young woman by his side, Andre must face down the hordes of bizarre and dangerous people who now call the Mall their home and find the real killer before the victims vengeful daughter, Tess, finds him and sends him to the ‘beyond’.

Michael Moreci and Gary Dauberman have produced an intriguing and exciting story within the pages the Mall as we see the start of of this survival story mixed with a crime thriller told within a world which resembles a microcosm of Lazarus’ dystopian society. However, far from being a slow burn title like that, the Mall feels like a high octane action tale, similar in genre to Mad Max or Escape from New York, but most mirroring the 2012 Dredd movie or Battle Royale in regards to it’s characters survival within a condensed space. This action movie vibe continues into the depiction of the characters, with the people in this world sporting a lot of cliches; snappy one-liners, exaggerated and over the top villains and henchmen in colourful costumes. That said, this doesn’t take away from the title but works to give it a nice identity, making it fun and not giving too much focus on the possibly dour circumstances which this comic is set in.

Meanwhile artist Zak Hartong and colourist Addison Duke give Mall a nice visual style which feels kinetic and very in keeping with this action-packed story. The art has a real old school look to it as Hartong’s gritty pencils and Duke’s warm but subdued colour pallette gives the entire book this look similar to Michael Lark’s Lazarus and Gotham Central style mixed with Andy Clift’s Captain Cosmic colours. This is furthered by the colours by the lighter tones being used for the environment, as the light scenes are bright and the darker corridors shown in more of a green hue.

That said, the art is inconsistent in this first issue with these gorgeous visuals appearing to fall below par towards the end of the issue, predominantly the action scenes. However, the close up dialogue scenes are able to make up for this as they continue to look fantastically detailed, while the design of the henchman costumes/masks are immensely creepy, giving the survival vibe an extra horror movie twist.

Despite some small problems, Mall is a wonderfully enjoyable comic. Moreci, Dauberman, Hartong and co. have imbued it with a lot of action and fun while instilling it with lots of intrigue to lead us into the second issue. As long as it can build on its potential and move away from its flaws, this first instalment will easily bring readers back for more.