I don’t know if you have heard, but the 80s are back in style. From Stranger Things to Red Oaks, we just can’t get enough with telling stories in this decade. And who can blame them? If fiction and my parents are telling the truth, it was an amazing time to be a teenager. I’ve bought into the nostalgia, and have enjoyed living vicariously in the 80s. So grab your bike, wear your letterman jacket, and let’s go to The Mall#1.
This Isn’t Your Father’s John Hughes
The Mall #1 is a bit different from your usual 80s nostalgia trip. It takes various tropes from your standard coming-of-age stories similar to John Hughes movies and mixes it with some good old’ classic crime melodrama. It provides a unique spin on what has become a trend, making it truly stand out. The opening of The Mall #1 establishes a tone that it manages to balance and makes you want to read more.
It opens with a mob killing and gets quite graphic. People expecting a light-hearted 80s teenager story will be in for quite a shock. As someone that has always liked crime fiction, this new take on the coming-of-age story has got me excited. I can only hope that this beautiful balance of tones will continue in future issues.
The Writing Is Righteous, Dude
Don Handfield and James Haick III are brilliant in The Mall #1. They take various archetypes from 80s movies and play with them. You have the geek, the jock, and the rich girl. Although these archetypes become the jumping off point to provide commentary about social status.
The three of them are not flat archetypes but instead fully realized characters that you emphasize with. We see enough of each of their personal lives so that we understand their reason for wanting to accept the “scholarship.”
I sense that their personalities — which the stores they inherit personify — will clash as the story goes on. Handfield and Haick III have set up a very intriguing premise with lots of opportunities for the characters to drive the story; which is the hallmark of excellent writing.
If there were one thing to complain about it would be that it is a tad overwritten. A character gives an impassioned speech that goes on for a full-page. While I understand the character’s motivations for making the speech — and I was rooting for him — it doesn’t feel natural at times. It appears the speech was prepared and edited by a writer rather than a speech given by a very angry man.
The Art Is Totally Radical, Dude
The art in The Mall #1 is outstanding. Rafael Loureiro’s style is detailed and realistic but maintains an almost cartoony style. It fits the tone of the comic. Being a blend of a more light-hearted story and a darker crime drama, the art itself becomes a blend to aid the reader in understanding the tone. The 80s aesthetic of The Mall #1never goes overboard.
For instance, the hair, the clothes, and the cars all look authentic but are not trying to draw attention to themselves. A period piece needs to look like it was actually made in that time period. Loureiro manages to do just that and I applaud him for it.
The Mall #1 Is Cool Beans, Dude
If you are growing tired of the 80s nostalgia trips, The Mall #1 will bring you right back into the fold. An excellent blend of tones with fleshed out characters and beautiful art connects to make a great first issue. I may just have to call my parents because I’m going to stay past my curfew at the mall.