Traditional science fiction sometimes gets the short end of the stick when it comes to comic books. In a medium where superheroes will always have the upper hand, it’s odd that alien lizard hands aren’t also embraced. Or sentient, telepathic stretch blob…hands. Lost Vegas #1 is solidly science fiction, but if that scares you, you’re missing out. Jim McCann and Janet Lee’s new limited series from Image Comics is fun and fantastical, with a smart ass narrator who just happens to be seriously down on his luck.
“From every backwoods corner in every stinkhole planet, to planets inside suns, every culture shares at least two things: money and numbers. Oh, and a way to count ‘em both.”
Are you humming “The Gambler” yet?
Roland is a roamer, a con-man. When his last take didn’t, he ended up with a one way ticket to Lost Vegas, working off his debts at the casino in the stars. Five years later he’s had enough. Lost Vegas sets the stage for Roland’s greatest con yet, escaping his indentured servitude with the help of the handful of people – and sentient blobs – he can trust.
McCann doesn’t waste time on exposition. A brief flash of “before” is all we get of Roland’s style when he was in the game, though his alternating self-assured-slash-self-deprecating narration carries us through the “after” just fine. It’s easy to root for the guy who doesn’t have everything, and Roland has pretty much nothing but the time (and money) he owes. By jumping ahead five years into his incarceration, McCann skips over Roland’s adjustment period so we can get straight to the action. If this were an ongoing title I might miss that character development, but for a miniseries, action is the way to go.
Lee’s drawings are wonderfully detailed, and the various aliens and alien decor are unique and often hilarious. Pay attention to the crowd scenes, especially. Her artwork is helped by Chris Sotomayor’s colors, which are unifying without being monotonous. And while I wasn’t a fan of Roland’s narrative captions – the letters were too small and too similar to the background color – the various alien speech bubbles by David Lanphear were lovely. There is also a full page telepathic conversation between three people and a (you guessed it) sentient blob that is kind of a masterpiece of art, color and lettering. Well done, team.
Lost Vegas probably won’t be for everyone, but it could be. Interesting characters with an appealing problem to solve amidst a unique and colorful environment. What’s not to like? Don’t let the science fiction part deter you. Lost Vegas is good comics storytelling.