“Lobot becomes the Brad Pitt to Lando’s George Clooney.” Read on.
This review and commentary contains general spoilers for issue #1 of Lando.
Writer: Charles Soule | Artist: Alex Maleev | Colors: Paul Mounts | Cover: Alex Maleev & Edgar Delgado | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Having wrapped up the Princess Leia miniseries last week, Marvel has turned their attention to Lando as the next Star Wars comic. If Princess Leia was the story of how Leia made peace with the destruction of Alderaan and her place in not just the Rebellion, but the galaxy, then Lando appears to be a story to be told on a smaller scale and with smaller stakes.
The story opens with Lando flattering and sweet talking his lover, Ssaria, an Imperial Moff known as the Fiend of Castell. As happens so often with smugglers and scoundrels in the Star Wars universe, Lando has accumulated gambling debts, and he is one step away from being killed over said debts. To resolve his debt problem, Lando hopes to steal a piece of art, which serves as the story’s initial McGuffin, from the local Moff. However, not everything goes according to plan. It is unclear whether Lando’s plan had been to seduce the Moff and then steal the artifact or just to steal it from her outright. However, as Lando put it, things got complicated, and he couldn’t just walk out on Ssaria having stolen the artifact—he would end up with Imperial hit squads after him, and Ssaria’s reputation would take a hit. Whether or not Lando is being honest with Ssaria, it is hard to say, but this scene only solidifies Lando’s reputation as the smooth talking scoundrel from the Empire Strikes Back. In the end, he walks out of Ssaria’s apartment with the artifact after a few slick words about what is best for the both of them.
Even though he got away with the artifact, things once again take an unexpected turn for Lando. Although the artifact should have been valuable enough to settle a debt with a criminal known as Papa Toren, a strange new alien that largely communicates through some subordinate aliens that hover about it, there is a twist: the artifact belonged to Papa Toren all along. In what he claims is gratitude, Papa Toren agrees to reduce Lando’s debt by ten percent, and proposes another job to Lando that, if successful, will eliminate the rest. Lando does not see eye-to-eye with Papa Toren on this arrangement, but doesn’t feel he has much choice but to accept Toren’s offer.
Of course, where would Lando be without his faithful sidekick Lobot? After securing the artifact from Ssaria, and again after making the deal with Papa Toren, Lando checks back in with the cyborg. In The Empire Strikes Back, Lobot served as an assistant administrator to Lando in running the mining operation on Cloud City at Bespin. Throughout the entire movie, Lobot uttered exactly zero words and zero lines. He shatters his silence and beats that total by three words in his very first panel in the first issue of Lando. Furthermore, instead of a subordinate to Lando, Lobot is introduced in this series as Lando’s partner. Rather than issuing orders to Lobot, Lando spends his effort convincing Lobot to go along with his scheme.
This issue also provides some of Lobot’s backstory. Lobot received his famous implants courtesy of the Empire, and apparently it was his choice. The purpose of the implants was to run battlefield calculations. This is something of a surprise. In the television series Rebels, viewers were introduced to the Rodian cyborg Ceebo. Like Lobot, Ceebo had an implant that wrapped around the back of his head that permitted him to conduct calculations at an accelerated rate. However, the viewer was left with the impression that Ceebo did not willingly elect to receive the implant, and that the implant was a hindrance to normal life. This does not appear to be the case for Lobot. He casually refers to his implant and his ability to make advanced calculations with it. It does not appear to be any sort of a disability other than it may be susceptible to glitches when Lobot is unfocused due to intoxicating substances. How and why Lobot left the Empire or escaped their clutches is not explained in this issue, but perhaps that story is yet to come.
The deal Papa Toren presents Lando leads to something of a classic Ocean’s 11 heist story. Lando needs a team to pull of his heist. Lobot becomes the Brad Pitt to Lando’s George Clooney. The next two recruits to the team are Aleksin and Pavol, two aliens of an unidentified species. Although unidentified, their species resembles the description of the Mahran species that were introduced this week in Christie Golden’s Dark Disciple. They eagerly accept Lando’s offer to join the team. The final member of the team is Korin, an Ugnaught (or at least he appears to be an Ugnaught) Sava—a type of professor at an alien university. Korin is an expert on antiquities. Although he took some convincing, Korin was impressed with some information Lando revealed to him about the particulars of their heist, but not the reader.
The issue ends with the successful heist of a starship from Sienar Imperial Orbital Shipyards. Of course, the ship belongs to a high ranking Imperial, which just happens to be the type of Imperial of which one does not want to run afoul. As Lando and Lobot make off with the prize, the bad news is delivered to the owner of the ship, which concludes the issue and sets up the next installment of the story.
Each new Star Wars series that Marvel distributes does something different than the one before it. The difference between Star Wars and Darth Vader was largely in the change of focus from the heroes of the Rebellion to the Dark Lord of the Sith. From those series to Princess Leia, there was a difference in the cinematic quality of the art to a softer style and a story that concentrated on Princess Leia and less on the transition from A New Hope to The Empire Strikes Back. Kanan: The Last Padawan was Marvel’s first story set before A New Hope during The Clone Wars, featured an art style the most similar to that of a traditional comic book, and reintroduced internal narration. Lando continues the innovation in storytelling. This is a heist story for one. Second, the art, particularly the coloring, is the most distinguishable from what came before. Mounts colors tend to blend more and are often reminiscent of a watercolor.
Soule has done an excellent job capturing the essence of Lando. The core of Lando as a character is “smooth.” In this book, Lando never lets anything bother him for long, and he certainly doesn’t let anyone know or believe anything shocks or alarms him. For example, Lando fully expected to come out of his meeting with Papa Toren with his debt resolved. When the tables were turned, he strode out of the meeting, took a drink, and presented Lobot with the “good news” that their debt had been reduced by ten percent, and they had a great opportunity presented to them to wipe out the rest. He has a way of getting what he wants without having to pull a blaster on anyone. In fact, he had a blaster pulled on him no less than three times in this issue, but he didn’t pull a weapon once.
Overall, Lando is off to a good start. The book doesn’t have a “wow” factor to it, but it does set up as an intriguing heist story. Each step of the story seems to get Lando and his crew out of the frying pan and into a larger fire. It should be entertaining for a limited series that tells a Lando story, but one shouldn’t expect anything that changes the way the reader looks at the Star Wars universe.
Dennis Keithly is a graduate of the University of Missouri, North Texas attorney, husband, father of two, and co-host of Starships, Sabers, and Scoundrels. In addition to Star Wars, Dennis is a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and super heroes in general. When not engaged in fictional universes, Dennis is reading a good book or watching the NHL, football, or studying the NFL draft.