by Doug Warren on July 18, 2018

Writers: Don Handfield, James Haick III
Illustrator: Rafael Loureiro
Colorist: Dijjo Lima
Letterer: DC Hopkins
Publisher: Scout Comics

The Mall no. 1 begins in a parking lot in Florida. One mob goon begs for his life and another one wastes him.

Turn the page, and we are in the height of 1980s teen culture. Hanging in the mall. The juxtaposition of the two scenes is night and day, but as the story progresses, these two seemingly unrelated stories merge into one.

First issues can fall into a couple of pits. Either they lose your attention by bogging you down with so much back-story and detail, or they jump right into the action, but leave you confused because you don’t have any idea what is going on.

The Mall avoided both of these. In just a few short pages, we met the three teenagers who are sure to be the series’ main protagonists and were able to see surprisingly deep into their personal lives. We learn their insecurities, what demons are haunting them. And trying to figure out the connections of what brings them together, and it isn’t obvious. The readers are still guessing when our protags get a mysterious letter in the mail about a scholarship opportunity. All they have to do is meet behind the mall without their parents. (Oh my gosh, have you ever heard of something that sounds skeezier in your life? “HEY KIDS? WANT FREE MONEY? MEET BEHIND A MALL WHEN IT’S CLOSED! DON’T ASK QUESTIONS AND DON’T BRING YOUR PARENTS!”)

Being that this is a new series and not just a one issue special, you can probably guess that there is more to the offer than just some money for college. (Even though this is set in the 80s, it isn’t an after school special where everything works out and the characters go home happy at the end.) The three teens have just an hour or so to make their decision, a decision that will shape the rest of their lives.

As they become comfortable, and all seems right, it just isn’t. Our trio has definitely gotten themselves in over their heads, and nothing is going to be the same. And just to let you know, when you finish the last page, you are going to be upset you have to wait a month to see where it goes from here.

The book is chock full of 80s references and lingo, in a fun nostalgic way; it wasn’t cheesy. The artwork fit the book’s tone and helped to enhance it. It’s gritty when it needs to be, bright when it doesn’t, and the characters are animated and expressive.

Brief recap. Three teens, each with their own issues and demons, are snatched from their normal lives and thrust into organized crime. The level of depth of the characters and plot let you know this is a series is bound to be your new addiction.


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