Consumer Branded Gangs & A Murder Mystery: A Review Of Mall #1

by Gary Catig

Many generations ago, Earth experienced an extinction level event and the survivors sought refuge in their local shopping centers Dawn of the Dead style. Humanity carried on, along with the same problems that plagued society and factions began to form. Each group is in a non-stop struggle to obtain resources and real estate from the others. So is the world in the brand-new Vault Comics series, Mall, from writers Michael Moreci and Gary Dauberman, artist, Zak Hartong, colorist, Addison Duke, and letterer, Jim Campbell.

The Mall is a perilous place where mascot mask wearing thugs kidnap newborn babies. Our main character, Andre, awakes bloody in a room next to the corpse of a prominent gang leader. He is framed for murder and becomes the most wanted man in the place. Andre must safely navigate through the shopping complex avoiding the various cliques that are out to capture him all while trying to determine who set him up.

Holing up in metropolitan mall after doomsday is not quite an original concept. The aforementioned Dawn of the Dead and even more recently, Scooby Apocalypse both incorporated the same idea. However, the world Moreci and Dauberman create separates this story and allows it to stand on its own. You really sense the tribalism as each gang is distinct and some have affiliations to popular store equivalents like Foot Locker and Zumiez. It’s a pleasure to see each new group introduced making you want to learn more about this brand centric realm. In addition, the murder mystery aspect helps keep the focus on the narrative.

Hartong successfully brings this world to life onto the pages. Though lacking detail at times, the raw line art perfectly captures the post-apocalyptic tone and Duke’s muted colors and palette accentuate the grittiness of the environment. The shifts in colors indicating a new faction are also a nice touch to help guide the reader. Moreover, the costuming stands out with a good blend of either ragged and worn 21st century clothing to Mad Max inspired outfits complete with creepy masks. The action scenes are also done well, and Hartong’s means of expressing motion help portray Walker’s frantic urgency as he evades the gangs.

Mall #1 does all a first issue needs to do. It introduces the reader to a captivating world and leaves enough questions unanswered to draw the reader’s curiosity. The story’s framed murder job with tons of different gangs in a post-apocalyptic world creates The Warriors meets Mad Max kind of vibe.

The Mall #1 is available now from Vault Comics.

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