Review – Mall #1 (Vault Comics)
Publisher: Vault Comics
Writers: Michael Moreci/Gary Dauberman
Artwork: Zak Hartong
Colours: Addison Duke
Letters: Jim Campbell
Release Date: 28th August 2019
The world ended. The forests burned, the seas rose and took back the lowlands, and humanity ate itself alive. Out of the rubble and ruins, a spark of what once was survives in The Mall, a relic of the past thought to have once been a utopia, now home to tribes, gangs and cults that have developed their identities based on the stores they inhabit. However, the Mall is not a post-apocalyptic haven of cooperation. There is no enlightened leadership building a better future. You fight for what’s yours and you take what the weaker person can’t defend. And when Andre Reed is accused of assassinating a rival tribal leader he must survive as a hunted man in the feral world he calls home, until he can prove his innocence.
My first thought when I read this issue was that Michael Moreci and Gary Dauberman are clearly fans of Walter Hill’s The Warriors, my second was that they’d definitely been brought up properly on a heavy diet of 1980s post-apocalyptic movies. Being an unapologetic bibliophile and with the recent revival of the Conan The Barbarian, I would also direct you to Robert E. Howard’s Conan story, The Slithering Shadow, which covers a lot of the same themes as this series.
The world that Andre inhabits with the rest of the lunatics is a blend of the Monroeville Mall, Peach Tree’s and Hadley’s Hope. The single exterior shot we get of the structure shows a typical Mall building in a shattered wasteland, but with no reference for how long it’s been since the apocalypse there could be level upon level carved out beneath the basement, with all kinds of horrors and freak shows hiding in the depths. For a man on the run, You’d really have to decide whether what you were running from is worse than what you’re running towards.
The artwork that Zak Hartong delivers is good. There’s some great character design, making each of the gangs easily identifiable, and while the concourse looks relatively unscathed, there’s a wonderful, dirty, ageing, scavenged look to the service areas and maintenance tunnels. There’s a little inconsistency in the artwork – a few ‘off’ poses, and perspectives out of kilter which jarred against the quality of the rest of the work – but it’s only a couple of panels and overall doesn’t detract massively from the whole.
I really enjoyed this issue. I think it’s a story that has plenty of legs, and the possibilities of what we’ll meet once we’re out of the quote-unquote “civilized” part of the Mall are really exciting. There seems little doubt at the moment as to who is responsible for the death of Delmon Gold, but you never know, his psychotic power-crazed daughter might have had nothing to do with it, and we may see some interesting twists over the next few issues.
For fans of post-apocalyptic survival action, I think this might be the series for you. Another great first issue from Vault Comics, and long may they continue to produce them.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek
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