Lando Calrissian is a man of many talents. It is a testament to those talents (and the acting of Billy Dee Williams) that in the 14 minutes and 30 seconds of screen time over two Star Wars movies he had (Which is less than Jar Jar Binks had in just The Phantom Menace), that he has made such a lasting impression. He is so loved that he has been in Star Wars: Battlefront II, Star Wars: Rebels, and will be in the upcoming Star Wars anthology movie, Solo (with Donald Glover playing a young Lando).
He also had his own five-issue comic book run, like Chewbacca, Princess Leia, Obi-wan and Anakin, Mace Windu, and Han Solo, simply called: Lando (Which came out before all the examples but Leia). When I review Star Wars comics I judge it based on a few specific criteria: does it introduce something new, does it stay true to the character and examine them closer, and does it make me want to read more Star Wars comics.
Yes, on all three counts.
The story starts with Lando, in classic fashion, wooing an imperial leader into giving him the item he came there to steal. He delivers it to a man he, and his trusty friend Lobot), is in debt to. Lando expects it to cover 100% of the debt, but it only covers 10%. The man he owes money to then gives him a new job, which will cover the rest of the debt: steal a wealthy Imperial’s ship. Lando and Lobot put a team together: an expert in ancient artifacts and twin panther warrior clones. After they steal it, they see that it’s a ship with some of the Emperor’s personal guards on board and full of sith artifacts; they stole the Emperor’s personal ship.
Something Old, Something New
Originally introduced in this comic (to the best of my knowledge), then reinforced by Star Wars: Battlefront II, is the idea that the long ago people in that galaxy we love far, far away never knew what the Emperor actually was. No one knew that Palpatine was a sith lord, which is an interesting reminder in a post-star wars prequel world. The artifact expert, or Sava, Korin Pers (before she met Lando, she was a professor on the history of the Jedi), hit explained to Lando the fear that comes with knowing that the Emperor is so interested in the sith, “You might not believe or understand what the sith were capable of, but I know enough to be terrified. Not to mention that I have become supremely unsettled to know that our exalted Emperor Palpatine is a devoted collector of sith memorabilia.”
In the pages of this comic, you see the overwhelming influence the sith has over normal people when one of the Panther twins, Aleskin, looks at something at the center of the room that fills him with a selfishness for the power of the ship. He cuts the arm off of his twin, and starts a campaign to kill the rest of the members of the team. We know that the dark side through Palpatine’s manipulations seduced Anakin, but to have a switch so severe as to have Aleskin attack the person he cares about in the galaxy a single moment after feeling the influence, it is a frightening new thought.
Something “Borrowed,” Something Lando
Lando is solidified in this as a smooth-talking gambler who holds cards up his sleeves, but he is also a man who cares deeply for his friends. This is best shown through his relationship to Lobot, and what Lando does to save him. Over the course of the story Lobot is injured, and to keep the imperial implants from taking over his mind Lobot needs to stay focused to hold them back. Lando puts him in a Bacta-tank while they figure out what to do next. When the situation becomes more then he can handle, Lando retrieves his friend as everything around him is breaking down.
As he is carrying him out they run into the sith powered Aleskin, Lando explains his secret after killing the alien, “Bluffing doesn’t work if people know you're bluffing. Everyone knows Lando Calrissian doesn’t fight. He gets by on charm. Luck. Only ones who know different are dead.”
Lando plays the “lover, not a fighter” role, so no one expects him to be able to defend himself. This is an essential part of Lando that isn’t as nuanced in the Original Trilogy. We see him betray and the save our heroes, but you don’t see the turn from talking to blaster there.
And a Credit in his shoe
While this comic introduces a lot of new, thought-provoking characters, one of them interests me the most, a female bounty hunter who has a history with Lando and Lobot (romantic in Lobot’s case) called Chanath Cha. She and her relationship to Lobot are the kinds of little details that I always find in Star Wars and their comics that make me want more. The idea that there is so much we don’t see, that there is a whole world out there beyond our characters, is what I love about Star Wars.
If I hadn’t already read most of the Star Wars out already, I would read more. Luckily for me, and all you out there looking for more Lando in your life Solo is just around the corner and there is a new comic launching on May 30th that ties into the new movie: Lando Double or Nothing. Suffice it to say, I will be at my comic book store next week.