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Most don't believe it. But there are still those who perform the ritual. And one day a boy named Luke calls Tall Jake, and disappears a few days later. Two of his friends, Seth and Kady, investigate his disappearance. Until they happen across a new copy of Malice and see Luke inside of it...
Eventually they discover that Malice isn't so much a comic as a documentary, showing events that happen in another world. Tall Jake is real, and he uses the comic to trick kids into performing the ritual that allows him to kidnap them and force them into the city in his world. Seth and Kady eventually decide to cross over into Malice, and plan to fight Tall Jake and put an end to his nightmare.
Malice and its sequel, Havoc, are an odd combination of literature and graphic novel, composed primarily of text but including narrative in comic form when the in-universe comic focuses on the main characters. It is written by British author Chris Wooding, who continues his trademark style of fashioning High Octane Nightmare Fuel Death Worlds where Anyone Can Die.
- Anyone Can Die
- Big Bad: Tall Jake
- Cats Are Mean: Subverted. Especially in the case of Tatyana, the sabertoothed tiger automaton.
- Deadpan Snarker: Justin certainly counts. Even in Havoc when he's slowly dying as he gets turned to stone he manages to make a few smart comments.
- Death World: Malice itself.
- Did Not Get the Girl
- Gadgeteer Genius: Justin.
- High Octane Nightmare Fuel: Oh, where to start? There's Tall Jake, who is basically...I'm not saying his name, the faceless Conductor, the Chitters (which suck the time out of people, causing them to age rapidly), and the gnawls. Also, Luke's death, which is technically shown, but obscured by darkness.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Anyone who gets out of Malice alive suffers this.
- Painting the Fourth Wall: Tall Jake's voice is described as sounding like rusty metal and being just wrong. The comics use a different, more jagged text for his speech bubbles, and when a character hears him talk in the 'real world,' the same text style is used.
- Paranoia Fuel: Anyone could have been through Malice at some time. Anyone. Even you.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Colm, who gets killed by the gorilla automaton in the Menagerie.
- Statuesque Stunner: Tatyana, at least according to Colm; the only time we get to see her (in a human body, at least), she's getting her life force/time sucked out of her by a Chitter. And since this particular episode happens in the comic, we get to see it. And it isn't pretty.