When the word “rogue” is brought up in a conversation about Star Wars, many people’s minds immediately jump to the image of Han Solo, the cocky, laid back pilot of the Millennium Falcon. However, there is one man in the Star Wars universe that manages to out-charm Han Solo at every turn and smooth-talk his way out of the most dangerous situations. Who is that man you ask? Well, it can be no one other than Lando Calrissian.
Played by the infinitely charismatic Billy Dee Williams and first introduced in The Empire Strikes Back, Lando is one of the coolest characters in Star Wars. This fact is being proclaimed loud and clear thanks to Marvel’s Lando, a five-issue mini-series that comes courtesy of the very talented team of Charles Soule (She-Hulk) and Alex Maleev (Daredevil), which follows the silver-tongued Calrissian before we eventually seem him as the crisply-dressed administrator of Cloud City.
As many comic readers know, the majority of Marvel’s Star Wars titles have been critically and commercially successful so far, offering more backstory and personality to the franchise’s most popular characters. Lando is no different, and in much the same way that Jason Aaron’s Star Wars and Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader have reexamined the canonical events in the original films and explored what happened in between those events, Soule and Maleev have also managed to create a fun and endearing series.
The story starts out simple enough with Calrissian indebted to a nasty crime boss. Hoping to make amends and live a little longer, Lando assembles a team of thieves and degenerates to pull off a heist of a very valuable starship and a number of ancient Sith relics supposedly hidden on board. Initially appearing to be a straightforward Ocean’s Eleven-esque caper, it’s with the reveal of who owns the prized starship that things really start to get interesting and very dangerous for Lando and his criminal compatriots. Glib remarks, space battles and threats of disintegration ensue.
What’s immediately apparent upon reading an issue of Lando is Soule’s complete understanding of Calrissian as a character. Along with perfectly capturing the voice of Billy Dee Williams with his playful and sarcastic dialogue, Soule also showcases Lando’s classic wit, overwhelming confidence, charm and self-serving nature from the first issue alone, and continues to expand upon these savory and unsavory traits as the series goes on. Yes, we get to see Lando be the cocky con-man, the suave lover and the master manipulator all within a single frame, but what really keeps Soule’s story compelling is Lando’s friendship with an often forgotten character from the movies. That character is Lobot, and unlike the cybernetic-headband wearing mute that we occasionally glimpse in The Empire Strikes Back, Lobot speaks his mind and often enjoys chastising Lando for his complex (disastrous) schemes. It’s the dynamic between Calrissian and Lobot that elevates Soule’s work from being just another enjoyable Star Wars comic, to being an exceptionally well-written Star Wars comic, revealing that even Lando, a man so often obsessed with himself, cares very deeply for his friends.
Though Lando and Lobot are at the forefront of the story (as they should be), there are a number of new characters introduced, including a pair of alien cat people, Aleksin and Pavol (Lando’s hired muscle), and a curmudgeonly Ugnaught scholar named Sava Korin. While the cat aliens aren’t exactly the most compelling of characters to ever be canonized into Star Wars lore (they’re cat people after all), Korin more than makes up for them with his cynical and snarky attitude. His general pessimism keeps Lando’s ego from becoming too overbearing and he acts as an additional voice of reason alongside Lobot. We’re also introduced to a new bounty hunter that goes by the name of Canath Cha. Tasked with hunting down the ship and property of the irate previous owner, it becomes evident that the bounty hunter has alterative motives for taking the job and confronting Lando. Cha also carries around a decapitated droid head. So…there’s that.
For as much praise as Soule has been receiving for Lando, Maleev deserves just as much prasie, if not more so for his incredible artwork. Throughout his career, Maleev has demonstrated his versatility as an artist, able to capture the emotional severity of a scene with his rough, noirish style. Though you wouldn’t think it when viewing his work, his artistic choices serve Soule’s story well, able to capture the likeness of characters like Lando and Lobot with ease. Maleev’s environments are also quite impressive, especially the ones that are smaller and more tightly-packed. The choice to use these types of settings gives brightly colored scenes a sense of warmth and intimacy, while darker scenes with heavier shading feel far more claustrophobic.
Even though Lando has not yet finished its woefully short run, the mini-series is well worth checking out whether you’re an obsessive Star Wars fanatic or not. While casual fans with only a passing knowledge of the movies will easily be able to jump into the book with little worry of getting lost in the minutia of Star Wars mythology, those who have a “degree” in Star Wars EU might notice a few clues that hint at the possible recanonization of a very popular EU character. Though not as grandiose as Aaron’s Star Wars or dark as Gillen’s Darth Vader, Lando succeeds in telling a much smaller, more intimate tale within the Star Wars universe. If you’re looking for something that’s more character-centric and prominently showcases an often sidelined supporting player, then I highly recommend Lando as the Star Wars comic you need to read.
What about you reader? Have you had the chance to pick up a few issues of Lando? Reading any other Star Wars books? Let us know in the comments below!
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