STAR WARS: LANDO
Before the Empire struck back
Marvel’s bold reinvention of the Star Wars comics line is continuing to grow, and alongside the two flagship monthly titles, we’re also getting character- centric miniseries that give specific cast members a moment in the sun. The recently concluded Princess Leia story was an example of tie- in comics at their best, and the standard remains high in the latest five- issue adventure as the spotlight shifts onto everyone’s favourite smooth- talking duplicitous rogue from Cloud City, Lando Calrissian.
Set before the events of The Empire Strikes Back, this is a highly enjoyable heist- goes- wrong tale following the life of Lando before he set up shop in Cloud City. It starts with a criminal debt that just won’t go away. In order to clear it once and for all, Lando has to assemble a team for a seemingly simple job to hijack a plush pleasure craft from an Imperial spacedock. All goes fine – until they discover the spaceship in question belongs to Emperor Palpatine, and he’s left some nasty surprises on board…
The writing talent Marvel has hired for its Star Wars titles has been impressive and here they’ve made a great choice with the prolific Charles Soule, who brings the same kind of wit and edge to these first three issues that he added to his criminally under- read recent run on She- Hulk.
Soule’s version of Lando captures the correct mix of suave charm and slipperiness, while he also adds unexpected depth to the relationship between Lando and his cybernetically- enhanced sidekick Lobot. Even the supporting characters are given strong, distinctive moments, and the pacey dialogue crackles with energy throughout. There’s no disguising that the plot is very much a traditional tale of criminals in over their heads, but Soule makes it feel fresh enough that the familiarity barely matters.
It also helps that he has artist Alex Maleev on the visuals, pulling off a welcome depth and grit. Maleev is best known for his work on street- level Marvel comics like Daredevil, and here he uses plenty of darkness and shadow to give the story a noir- ish atmosphere. He also handles the action sequences with style, while colourist Paul Mounts does equally impressive work, utilising a vivid palate of blues and reds to conjure up a lush, pulpy sci- fi vibe.
This could easily have been a throwaway, forgettable romp, but instead Soule and Maleev have delivered a tightly structured sci- fi crime caper. The tone fits perfectly with the darker style of The Empire Strikes Back, and the end result is a thoroughly satisfying journey into the more dangerous edges of the Star Wars universe. Saxon Bullock
The pacey dialogue crackles with energy throughout
Don’t worry, they’ll probably miss.