Review – Slots #4 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics (Skybound imprint)
Writer/Artist: Dan Panosian
Release Date: 10th January 2018

In the latest issue of Slots, Dan Panosian’s Skybound passion project, the relationship between Stanley Dance’s son Lucy and his friend’s daughter Mercy continues to develop, while Stanley’s in-ring return hits a bit of a roadblock in the form of a kickboxer who turns out to have a shockingly good right hook.

Unfortunately, it feels like story is in danger of becoming more than a little muddled as the spotlight continually flits between different characters throughout the course of this issue.  For me, the appeal of Slots to this point has been been the charisma and innate likeability of its leading man, and as a result things do become slightly less interesting the more Panosian focuses on his supporting cast.

While there’s undoubtedly an intriguing core there, I can honestly say that I have no real investment in Lucy as a character, save from the way that his actions impact his father.  Likewise with Mercy, there’s simply not enough charm or substance to make me really about the character, which makes the blossoming relationship between the pair feel like a bit of a storyline cul-de-sac.

It’s actually a fairly unique pitfall for Panosian to have stumbled into, having written such a compelling and gripping protagonist that all of the supplementary characters feel a little bland and uninteresting by comparison. And while some of the supporting cast admittedly do have their enjoyable moments – Les, Stanley’s sleazeball former best friend and Lucy’s current step-dad, for instance, is an absolute treat – this is very much the ‘Stanley Dance show’, and should clearly be treated as such.

Niggles aside, there’s no denying that the artwork is really picking up over the course of the last couple of issues, particularly given Panosian’s impressive flair for illustrating the in-ring aspects of his story.  This issue features two such contests, each with slick, eye-catching layouts, bone-crunching impact and fantastic facial expressions that go a long way towards telling the story of the bouts.

At the end of the day, Slots feels a lot like a story that’s going to read a lot better as a trade than it does as single issues, with the storyline ebbing and flowing considerably throughout the course of these 20-odd page ‘floppies’.  The transitions between the issues are also a little underwhelming at times, with this issue just sort of ending without any sort of cliff-hanger or any real encouragement to pick up issue five next month.

It’s still a great-looking book, and as I’ve mentioned above, Stanley Dance is a fantastic creation, but I can’t help but find myself hoping that the spotlight is once again allowed to fall squarely on our roguish leading man as the series nears its conclusion.   Either way, I’m still all in with this one.

Rating: 3.5/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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