In finishing this first issue of Lost Vegas I couldn’t help but think how Jim McCann is very good at adapting to genre. For Return of the Dapper Men it was adapting the great dark/light fantasy a la Roald Dahl; Mind the Gap manipulates the police procedural to mix the soap opera of daytime television with a hint of Twin Peaks and a lot of British mystery writers who leave the crumbs to help the reader if they are really paying attention. This time around, McCann hits the sci-fi hard mixing in a bit of the good old fashioned Hollywood grifter tale.
Roland, the series’s everyman grifter, is the young gambler—handsome, capable, looking for the big score to the easy life that no gambler can really have due to they can never not place the next bet, the next play. Having watched the effects gambling can have on a person in my own life I find myself feeling sympathy more than empathy for Roland and I think McCann is the type of writer that will redeem Roland to the errors of his ways, and I mean that in no pious sense, rather, that one can make luck in order to turn a small window for them into an opportunity for a different life.
And it is out that Roland wants from the life of Lost Vegas, only because the pleasure has become pain. Functioning as a gamblers prison, Roland has been doing time as a servant of the casino for debts owed for over five years. Roland knows there is no honest way out, so this narrative sets up like Escape from Alcatraz colliding with the more recent Ocean’s heist flicks (see, this is how good McCann is—he plays the high notes mixed well), as Roland plans an elaborate escape. And while I have sung the praises of McCann, I must not forget the art of Janet Lee.
Oh my the artwork. I got the pleasure of previewing this issue in HD on my laptop, and it is one of the first times that I have felt really satisfied looking at a comic digitally. If you have not procured a copy of the last collaboration of this duo, Return of the Dapper Men, go now and flip to the back of it where Lee talks about the complicated process she underwent to layer the backgrounds, to push the visuals of the story to new spaces for the eye to ingest. Lee’s exquisite detail is seen in Lost Vegas in the strands of hair on someone, the delicate line work of facial expression,the architecture of a retro-future sharing a lot with the work of a Riann Hughes—it just feels right, as if the improbable makes sense. That is the great pleasure of good art made by capable hands, it makes us believe.
This story shows promise, and if for some reason the plot somehow does not payoff in the end, the art work will undoubtedly be worth the price of admission for the whole ride.