While setting a horror story inside an abandoned shopping mall is an interesting – if not completely original – idea, the execution could use some work. The initial character development is pretty nonexistent, and the artwork is inconsistent. Some more work is needed to bring some life to this Dead Mall.
Ahhh ye olde shopping mall! That archetype of mid-to-late 20th century capitalism and hangout for teenagers desperately seeking to escape the watchful eyes of their parents. With the rise of internet commerce, many of these massive buildings have been abandoned – relics of a forgotten time when people fought with each other for a good parking space and to get a bargain for something they probably never needed in the first place.
Such “dead malls” are the setting for this four-part limited series. In this case, the Penn Mills Galleria has transformed from the community center to a shelter for the homeless and teens looking for to pound some beers while embarking on an adventure. In this case though, the adventure turns paranormal.
Something is living in the dead mall. Well, perhaps living isn’t the right word. Haunting is more on point. As we see a group of kids break into the building, our largely unseen narrator makes it clear that he and his supernatural companions will toy with the youngsters before ending them.
Written by Adam Cesare, the haunted building concept isn’t exactly new, though placing it in an old mall ratchets up the nostalgia factor. Cesare is clearly trying to grab the readers’ attention with that and the intrigue of the story. He doesn’t spend much time on character development beyond introducing us to the jock, the lesbian couple, et al.
David Stoll’s artwork is mixed. On the one hand, his depictions of the large, decrepit mall and its otherworldly inhabitants are strong. One splash page even has a wonderful M.C. Escher feel to it. But his linework of the teens is loosely defined and somewhat underwhelming.
With the concept’s introduction out of the way, the creative team now needs focus on developing the characters and driving the story forward in unpredictable ways, while ensuring the consistency of the artwork across all subjects. That will help bring this Dead Mall to life.
Dead Mall #1 will be available for purchase on October 26, 2022.