Written by: Charles Soule
Art by: Alex Maleev
Chronology Placement: Set before “The Empire Strikes Back”
This graphic novel collects the following stories:
- Star Wars: Lando (2015) # 1 – 5
I’ll be honest – Lando Calrissian isn’t one of my favourite characters from the Star Wars universe. I don’t think I ever truly got over the way he betrayed Han and the others on Bespin, even if he did redeem himself later. Even now, as I’ve grown older (and hopefully wiser), I still have a weird distance with the character compared to the rest of the Original Trilogy leads. As a result, I had somewhat low expectations going into “Lando”, one of the first graphic novels from the relaunched Star Wars Expanded Universe comics’ line. Could Charles Soule and Alex Maleev perform the heist of the century and steal my heart? Or would they crash and burn faster than rookie pilot attempting the Kessel Run?
Set between “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back”, this graphic novel focuses on the relationship between Lando and his robotic partner-in-crime, Lobot. I was struck by the similarities between the Lando/Lobot and Han/Chewie partnerships, and it was certainly fun to read about a different smuggler double-act. Much like Chewbacca, Lobot plays the conscience and straight-man to Lando’s more risk-taking persona as they pair semi-successfully attempt to make a living in a post-Republic underworld. Soule’s interpretation of Lobot jars with the mute version of the character we see in “The Empire Strikes Back”, but it soon becomes apparent that this story predates the event that lobotomises Lobot.
Soule brings Lando to life on the page in a way that enhances his appearances on-screen, and dare I say, improves the character dramatically. The opening sequence where Lando attempts to charm his way out of trouble with a high-ranking female Imperial demonstrates the slight difference between him and Han. While Han has his own brand of charm, Lando is effortlessly cool and a ladies man – willing to use his brains rather than his brawn. This is a subtle difference that Soule refers to numerous times in his script, developing the character into more than a replacement for Han Solo whilst he was in Carbonite. I also enjoyed the Ocean’s Eleven-esque tone to the plot as Lando and his misfit crew of thieves attempt to steal a star ship with mysterious cargo. I won’t spoil one of the biggest twists, but it leads to a thrilling “cat-and-mouse” against a legendary character from the Original Trilogy, and actually anchors Lando deeper to the main plot of the films.
I’m familiar with Alex Maleev from his work on Daredevil, and his art simply radiates an intense noir atmosphere which suits this tale from the underworld, especially when events take a darker tone. I loved his interpretation of Lando and Lobot, which borrows elements from their live-action appearances but wasn’t beholden to being photo-realistic. I particularly enjoyed his take on the Ugnaught, Korin Pers, and the mysterious armoured bounty hunter, Channath Cha. Maleev’s intoxicating art style underscores the level of danger and panic aboard the ship once the “Sith” hits the fan (pun intended). Maleev also gets to demonstrate his skill as a storyteller with some really impactful sequences, such as the shock reveal of what lies inside the ship’s vault – which culminates in a brilliant splash page to close out the second chapter – and Lando’s surprising proficiency with a blaster in the final chapter which seems to leap out of the panels to create a real sense of movement.
Tightly plotted, and surprisingly tense considering we know the fates of the main players, “Lando” was a joy to read from start-to-finish. Soule’s characterisation of the suave smuggler is spot-on, and the relationship between Lando and Lobot is the emotional anchor upon which the success of the book hinges on. I marvelled at how Soule took a background character – a mute one, at that – and turned him into an immensely tragic figure – completely re-framing all of Lobot’s appearances in “The Empire Strikes Back”. I was completely won over by this book and found myself enjoying every second – not one panel or line of dialogue fell flat – and I would love to see this adventure brought to life by the same teams who produce “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” TV shows.
Rich with adventure and overflowing with character, “Star Wars: Lando” is the Lando Calrissian story I didn’t know I needed, and has definitely hyped me up for the character’s return in “Rise of Skywalker”. You don’t need Lobot’s neural implants to take a chance on this graphic novel – the odds are definitely in your favour!