Beautiful Women And Ugly Men: Slots #3 By Dan “Punchy” Panosian And Image Comics

by Oliver MacNamee

Stan’s luck continues as others’ fail them in this third installment of Dan Panosian’s Las Vegas set family drama, Slots #3 out this week from Image Comics.

Stanley Dance continues to breeze through life on his return to Las Vegas, taking in his scheduled return to the ring in his stride as though not much mattered to him. A far cry from the man close to suicide in issue #1 and possibly all an act, as he seems to seek a reunion with his son, who has no desire to do the same.

Meanwhile old friend, Grigori, is taken in by casino owner Len, Stan’s enemy because of events revealed last issue, who menaces him, while all along smiling slyly over Grigori’s shoulder and ensuring he doesn’t leave his casino immediately. Plied with drinks he doesn’t want, this can only lead to one outcome in a city like Vegas. Not everyone is having the lucky streak Stan seems to be having, it would seem. Len’s a great thrift store Lex Luthor, as he emanates the same kind of seething anger behind his smile that Luthor, at his best, also shares in common. These are angry men looking for revenge. Only Lex’s revenge is aimed less at a man of steel but rather a man of no fixed abode. Vegas doesn’t forgive and forget easily.

Its a book full of beautiful, albeit oft-times objected, women–serving drinks, dancing, or simply relaying the number of rounds to punters during boxing matches– with ugly men and their ugly plans. It’s a side of this city that seems to exist as full of strange and sinister citizens and down-and-outs. People who have made Vegas their home by playing, and losing, by the rules. Takes set by the house. Panosian’s Vegas is not the exotic, romanticised version of Vegas the corporations what you to buy into, but rather the slow-rotting underbelly which no-one seems to escape scar free from.

Panosian continues to paint a world that smells of polyester suits and Brylcreem, sweat and sorrow in equal amounts. A world of old-school lounge lizards and new school punks. The fashions and generational attitude may have changed since the ‘glory days’ of Mafia run gambling dens–as depicted in all its guts and glory in such films as Scorsese’s Casino–but the enveloping sins still live on, embodies by some of the character we come into contact with in this issue.

It’s a quicker read than previous issues, but it effortlessly widens the net with more of a soft focus on the periphery characters in Stan’s life, as Mercy, the in-demand burlesque dancer and daughter of Stan’s old friend, starts to come forward with an eye on Stan’s son, Lucy. Surely this is a name given by Stan to encourage a fighting ethos to develop in the lad as he grew up in a city without much sentiment. Panosian’s colour work throughout the book continues to evoke the old style comics of the past, with earthy colours that knock any shine Vegas might have right out the park. It’s a seedy, sepia palette and it compliments the story immensely.

Another great round, and another knock out issue. Bring on the next round.