Lando is a five-issue Marvel miniseries that sees the infamous smooth-talking gambler attempt to clear a debt by hijacking a ship full of priceless artefacts – but the ship’s owner doesn’t take kindly to thieves. The series is written by Charles Soule and illustrated by Alex Maleev.
In the opening panels Lando, by Charles Soule, we see the smirking scoundrel swindle Imperial Moff Ssaria out of an artefact. It’s priceless, we’re told. He turns the loot over to his latest creditor, Papa Toren, hoping to settle a hefty balance. No such luck. They still aren’t even. But Papa Toren has a much bigger score in mind, one that would not only settle his debts but put him in profit. The target is a luxury yacht currently undergoing a refit at a shipyard circling the planet Castell. Aboard, according to Papa Toren, are valuable antiquities. A fortune.
Lando puts together a team. It includes his long-time friend, Lobot, two cloned cat-like warriors, Aleksin and Pavol, and an Ugnaught antiquities expert, Sava Korin. And they swipe the ship – easily. Too easily. There’s a reason why nobody had previously attempted to steal the ship: It’s the Imperialis, the personal pleasure craft of Emperor Palpatine.
This is at once so Lando Calrissian, and also a classic crime-caper setup. The smoothest smuggler in the galaxy is a fun character, if not necessarily an interesting or deep one, but with his prominence in the upcoming Solo movie and a bunch of related tie-in materials, he’s experiencing something of a resurgence. This miniseries was released in 2015, and mostly finds the character much the same as he was in The Empire Strikes Back, but here we get to see some fleshing-out of his worldview in the new canon after he got kind of pigeonholed and sidelined during the later years of the “Legends” continuity.
As is to be expected from Charles Soule at this point after his work on Obi-Wan & Anakin, Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith and the on-going Poe Dameron series, Lando is written very well. The tone is pitched perfectly, the plot is pacey and exciting, and the smaller character interactions run the gamut from funny to intriguing to, in the final issue, legitimately moving. I must admit, a Lando Calrissian series was the last place I expected to find a tragic, poignant, and almost tear-inducing dialogue exchange, but here we are. That moment caps off what in my humble opinion is one of, if not the best, character-driven miniseries’ that Marvel has released.
Lando smartly keeps its story quite contained, but it’s relatively dense with interesting worldbuilding details and nods to the wider continuity. The Emperor’s flagship, the Imperialis, has a bellyful of corrupting Sith artefacts. (Palpatine’s status as a Sith is not commonly known throughout the galaxy.) On its trail is a prototype craft, the Scimitar, which you’ll recognise as Darth Maul’s ship in The Phantom Menace. Here it has a wily droid babysitter, O-66, who reveals some interesting tidbits about both Sith vessels. (The Scimitar can track the Imperialis even through hyperspace by following its energy signature, which for some reason is similar to that of a neutron star.)
The art, too, is in keeping with the seedy underworld feel of Lando and the sordid corners of the galaxy he tends to inhabit. Alex Maleev and his colourist, Paul Mount, went for a style that highlights the grimy, gritty tone of Charles Soule’s writing, but that also pops with colour in a vaguely 80s-inspired way reminiscent of something like a Miami Vice VHS cover. It’s a fun, retro-futurist look for Lando, and is another of the series’ considerable strengths.
All in all, while the story is easy to plough through and breezy enough to feel inconsequential, Lando is elevated by great character writing and a confident sense of self that seems fitting for the character. There’s some purposeful misdirection, particularly in the excellent final issue, and after a wonderful character turn from Lobot and some more insight into Lando himself, it’s unlikely you’ll ever look at the events of The Empire Strikes Back in quite the same way again.