Advance Review – Lost Vegas #1
Lost Vegas #1
Jim McCann – Story
Janet Lee – Art
Phantom Variant – Skottie Young
Published by Image Comics
Lost Vegas #1 is an overwhelmingly successful feat of storytelling and a visual smorgasbord. McCann and Lee have given us a one-of-a-kind experience, rooted in familiarity, that surpasses whatever we were capable of expecting.
McCann’s exposition is flawless. We meet up with a gambler, named Roland, in the midst of a high stakes game of black jack just as his luck is running out. It’s a familiar enough idea, a man full of bravado and ill-founded self assurance going all in when he should have gotten the hell out; but it’s suddenly new again thanks to the details provided by Janet Lee’s skilled hand and unbridled imagination. There are so many wonderful creatures nestled in the background of these panels, if you race through the book, you’re missing out. Lee manages to build personas for these background fillers in just a few frames. They remain individually recognizable as they go about their tasks as the action in the foreground builds tension and introduces us to the main character. What other artist might have filled with shapes or squiggles, Lee uses to draw the reader ever further into this world.
Roland is a charismatic card shark who outsmarts himself again and again, as he tries to beat the house in one way or another. His elaborate scheming costs him dearly, and he finds himself in a debtor’s prison deep in the bowels of the space station Lost Vegas. Five years into his sentence, he has given up hope of paying off his debts and plans to make a run for it. His escape plans read like dialogue from the best of the heist movie you’ve never seen. His tactical analysis of the inner-workings of this fantasy, sci-fi world help ground this soaring narrative with a sense of reality. By making these explantations feel necessary to the plot of the story, McCann finds a truly seamless way to introduce the reader to this completely unprecedented world.
The artwork is incredibly articulate, Lee has wonderful control and technique. Lee’s style is what happens to the illustrations from children’s books when they grow up. It works perfectly in this book.When I consider other artistic directions the book could have taken, dark and gritty, or perhaps cartoony and comic (McCann’s story could have been expressed a number of ways) I cannot imagine any being as effective as the one that Lee has chosen. The characters McCann creates are as original as the manner in which Lee renders them. Every page turn yields a reward. The story starts strong and never loses steam. The originality of the book follows that same pattern. We are not given a single character that defies convention, only to see them lose their novelty after appearing on page after page. In Lost Vegas, there is always something new and exciting to experience.
With the intensity of thrillers like Ocean’s 11 and The Italian job, and an environment that makes the cantina in Star Wars seem ho hum, Lost Vegas #1 succeeds on multiple levels. I’d place a bet on this title any day.
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