Marvel is producing fascinating character studies for the notable characters in the galaxy far, far away. Darth Vader delves deeply into the Dark Lord of the Sith’s psyche, dredging up the pain and torment behind the inscrutable mask. Princess Leia showed her heroic quest to save her people and come to grips with the loss of Alderaan. Continuing this trend is the Lando mini-series, which follows everyone’s favorite scoundrel on a heist that doesn’t go as planned. Words by Charles Soule, drawings by Alex Maleev, colors by Paul Mounts, and lettering by Joe Caramagna.
The art in Lando is phenomenal. The line work by Maleev is intricate and evocative. It gives the book that essential lived-in feel of Star Wars. The opening pages of the first issue are incredible. They just scream Connery-era James Bond in architecture, design, and style. It’s very mod, sexy, and dangerous.
Mounts’ colors are lush and delightfully retro, often filling the page with strange colors and casting deep shadows. The palette he chose differs quite a bit from the other titles in the Marvel Star Wars line. Bright colors are few and far between, often muted or heavily shaded. Lots of black ink fills the pages.
I don’t often notice the lettering in comics but the lettering in Lando is really top notch – specifically how he conveys the tone of dialogue through font choice.
Who Is Lando?
Set sometime between Lando’s appearance in Star Wars Rebels and The Empire Strikes Back, the Lando mini-series explores Lando as a character, specifically what could possibly inspire a happy-go-lucky ne’er-do-well to go straight and become a responsible leader. Lando, as seen in Rebels, is brash and an almost compulsive smooth talker. Every confrontation is deflected. Each situation is diffused by the rogue’s charm. Lando’s first instinct is to talk his way out of a situation. His second is to have others fight for him.
Soule explores that same character, largely by having Lando interact with foils whose experience with Lando make them ready to call him on his bullshit. Lobot chides bad deals and challenges Lando on the wisdom of decisions. Throughout the series Sava Korin puts Lando in his place. She clearly has a history with Lando and does not tolerate his attempts at manipulation. Even Channath Cha, assigned to hunt him down, is quick to an insult when she recognizes him.
Thematically, there’s a lot to like here. It’s a heist featuring Lando. It’s a locked room horror story. Aleksin and Pavol are the thematic opposites of Lando – mute and quick to violence – and provide an interesting counterpoint to Lando’s fast-talking cowardice. Sava is an intriguing character who could be fascinating in other stories, especially ones set shortly after the fall of the Republic when knowledge of the Jedi is being stamped out.
Screwed on his last deal, Lando assembles a team of experts for this new job. Lobot is the technical expert. Sava Korin can properly value the goods they gather. Aleksin and Pavol are the muscle. The job is simple: steal a luxury yacht that is being refitted at a shipyard. The ship itself goes to the fixer but Lando and his crew are welcome to the art and artifacts within.
What begins as a heist story slowly morphs into a horror tale. Lando’s crew make off with the ship by the end of the first issue – a ship we learn is the Imperialis, personal yacht of Emperor Palpatine. It is his treasure room for Sith artifacts. When the Emperor learns of the theft, he dispatches his preferred bounty hunter, Channath Cha, to hunt down the ship and kill whoever stole it. To aid her in this endeavor, he lends her the Scimitar – the ship flown by Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace.
The rest of the series is an exercise in dread as we see the corruption that occurs to those who surround themselves with Sith artifacts. The team is set against each other and against the clock. The whole thing races to a tragic, touching end that leaves Lando changed. We begin to see in him the sort of person he will become as the Baron-Administrator of Cloud City and later a General in the Rebel Alliance. It’s a tidy arc and satisfying in that Lando’s victory, what little there is, had nothing to do with his own actions. Everything he did made the situation worse and yet he was the only one to come out of Imperialis unscathed.
New Canon, Old References
The coolest bit of new canon in Lando is Channath Cha. We really need more of her. In order to be the Emperor’s favorite, she’s bound to be a top-tier bounty hunter like Cad Bane and Boba Fett. Oh, and she has rocket boots capable of sustained flight which is something we haven’t seen before.
The corrupted royal guardsmen raise plenty of questions about the rest of their order as well as the nature of Sith corruption.
We learn why Lobot is mute in The Empire Strikes Back and how the implants Tseebo shares in kind with Lobot can harm the user.
The term ‘sava’ is introduced and refers to some sort of academic.
The Imperial Navy deploys gravity mines that can magnetically adhere to a ship’s hull in order to prevent it from jumping to hyperspace.
The Scimitar makes its second canon appearance and I’m glad for it. It’s a great ship design and I’d like to see more of it.
I give Lando a solid 5 stars. The writing and art are both top-notch, combining to tell an emotionally charged and satisfying story. It was just announced that Charles Soule is returning to Marvel to write another mini-series, this one focused on the early years of Anakin’s tutelage under Obi-Wan and titled OBI-WAN & ANAKIN. Look for it in January, I know I will be.