Stanley Dance was many things; a fighter, a fixer, a husband and a father. Unfortunately, Stanley was also a “live-for-the-moment” kind of guy and that’s a bad thing to be when your livelihood depends on thinking ahead to what comes after you dodge the first punch. Or what’s your game plan for after you’ve pulled off your latest con, beyond “drive away fast and spend the money.” And as for being a husband and a father? Well, Stanley was even less successful at that than he was boxing and fixing.
In fact, there’s only three good things you can say about Stanley Dance; he’s honest enough to admit that he’s no good, he never lets a favor go unrepaid and he never gives anything less than his best even when his best isn’t good enough. So when Stanley’s old flame Betsy called in a favor, Stanley dropped everything to drive back to Las Vegas to help her.
It seems Betsy’s casino, The Piggy Bank, is doing big business and that’s all because of their theater’s headliner, a saucy burlesque performer known as Mercy. The problem is Mercy knows her value. And despite Betsy being her mother, she’s ready to jump ship and take a job as the house performer at The Royal, The Piggy Bank’s biggest competitor, because the Royal’s owner, Les, is ready to build a new theater, just for her.
Betsy’s favor is simple enough; do what it takes to stop Mercy from taking the job without hurting her. Unfortunately, there’s a whole host of complications. The biggest of these is that Les is the same man who ran Stanley out of Las Vegas years ago and he’s still holding a grudge, even after hooking up with Stanley’s ex-wife and becoming stepfather to Stanley’s estranged son. Still, Stanley Dance is a man who pays back his favors and he’s more than ready to score some payback and maybe, just maybe, score some redemption as well.
Slots paints a picture of a Las Vegas that barely exists anymore outside of movies and detective stories. This is a tale of the old Vegas (or, as some would have it, the “true” Vegas) completely at odds with the popular image of glitz and glamor that is offered up to tourists in modern times. This is a story of the mean streets, where a man can be rich with no currency but his good name and a wide smile.
The artwork by Dan Panosian perfectly captures this side of Las Vegas. Panosian is famed for his dark, gritty aesthetic, which has graced a variety of superhero comics as well as various independent works and Savage Sword of Conan. He also has a gift for faces and draws some wonderfully animated expressions, which liven up all the scenes of the characters talking considerably.
Dan Panosian is rightly regarded as a great artist, but proves to be no mean writer as well, as he introduces us to Stanley Dance and the various movers and shakers he works around as he puts his plans into action. You can’t help but like Stanley, though he is a scoundrel and it turns out that Les has good reason to want to see Stanley knocked down as low as possible.
Slots is rated 17+ and it earns that rating, with its content being equivalent to an R-rated movie. Given the story’s setting in Sin City, it’s hardly surprising that there’s a fair bit of adult situations, drug use, suggested nudity and violence. Yet like a good stripper, Panosian hints at more than he shows and there’s no blatant fan-service or glamorization of the seedy side of Vegas. Older teens should be able to handle the content, but Slot’s story and themes of making up for the sins of youth will likely appeal more to older readers.
Slots Vol. 1
By Dan Panosian
Image Comics, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: 17+
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NFNT Age Recommendation: Older Teen (16-18), Adult (18+)