Star Wars: Lando
After almost a month of writing about my favorite fandom for Graphic Reviews, I realized that I haven’t actually talked about the main series yet. But instead of doing that, I’m gonna talk about another sidekick! Those who want to hear about the main series will just have to wait one more week. I promise! One of the great things about having an incredibly popular universe like Star Wars is that you end up taking chances with peripheral characters on the chance that people will still recognize them and pick up the story. Just about anyone who’s seen the original trilogy will remember Lando Calrissian. But what do you really remember? He’s got the standard scoundrel story where he’s a selfish, smarmy traitor who gets his golden redemption over the course of the series. Lando redeems himself by helping out Han and Leia (and by extension, the Rebellion) but it’s hard to get much of a read on him as an individual during the movies. Much like the way that the Chewbacca mini-series that I looked at last week fleshed out that side character, this week I’ll be taking a look at the Lando mini-series which was written by Charles Soule and illustrated by Alex Maleev. Published in 2016, it had a short run of just 5 issues and gives readers a look at Lando Calrissian’s past and the motives that drive such a scoundrel.
Lando is somewhat of an odd series among the new Star Wars series in that it takes place while the Empire is still in the height of its power (with the Rebellion only a minor nuisance at best) rather than in the new age between the destruction of the second Death Star and the beginning of Force Awakens. Lando Calrissian is a scoundrel who’s honestly rather down on his luck at the moment. Along with his pal Lobot (the artificially enhanced bald guy that people might remember from The Empire Strikes Back), Lando is given the chance to pull off a major heist in order to pay back a gambling debt that has him in rather more mortal danger than he’d prefer. Lando has been tasked with stealing a prized Imperial vessel belonging to some rich Imperial snob and in return, has been promised any loot he finds on the ship. Lando and Lobot are joined by an Ugnaught scholar and two rather intriguing duelists of unknown origins and head off to pull off the most major heist of any of their careers. As one might expect for a scoundrel’s story, things don’t go as smoothly as planned and it’s up to Lando and his compatriots to get out alive and, preferably, rich as Croesus. Or whatever the galactic equivalent is.
In an admission that I’m sure will surprise no one, I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for scoundrels. Of course I loved Han but Lando was always a fascination. Even in just The Empire Strikes Back, you get to see very different facets of a complicated man. On the one hand, he’s a smooth-talking, selfish gambler who cares only about saving his own skin and on the other, he’s an administrator of an entire planet who’s doing his best to make sure that his people survive and thrive. He’s a traitor but also redeems himself as he puts himself at risk to help his friends (admittedly after having sold them out). While the heist plot of this mini-series is amusing at best but not terribly new or original, getting to see a better glimpse of the titular character made it well worth picking up. Even more so than the movies, this series showcases the various, sometimes conflicting, sides of Lando’s personality and history. The people around Lando often pay for his tendency to gamble on more than just dice and cards and even Lando has to come to terms with that by the end of the series. I particularly liked that Lando always had a card up his sleeve, a move that he’d planned out for years just to utilize for this one particular situation. He’s a compelling character and Soule and Maleev do a damned good job with him. Speaking of Maleev, I think anyone who’s ever seen his work before doesn’t need to be told that he’s an amazing artist but he really does an incredible job again with this mini-series. He’s as talented with gorgeous, picturesque scenes as he is with heart-racing explosions and gunfights. He’s long been one of my favorite artists and I’ve never been disappointed by him yet. Paul Mounts who handled the colors also deserves special recognition because the coloring is an absolutely perfect match for Maleev’s work. All around, I was pretty impressed by the series, both in the writing and the artwork.
While the Lando mini-series isn’t necessarily a must-read for all Star Wars fans, I think it does an admirable job of bringing to life one of the lesser known but just as compelling scoundrels that we all know from the original trilogy. Lando may be a bastard but he’s an interesting one and kudos to Soule, Maleev and Mounts for making his story one worth reading. If you enjoyed the original trilogy and want to learn more about him (especially since he’ll be showing up again in the Han Solo movie that’s coming up), this series is well worth your time!