Friday, August 28, 2015

Review: LANDO #1


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

WRITER: Charles Soule
ART: Alex Maleev
COLORS: Paul Mounts
LETTERS: VC's Joe Caramagna
COVER: Alex Maleev with Edgard Delgado
VARIANT COVERS: Alex Ross; John Tyler; Skottie Young
28pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (September 2015)

Rated T

“Part 1”

Lando Calrissian was the first Star Wars character portrayed onscreen by a Black man, Oscar-nominated actor, Billy Dee Williams.  [Of course, James Earl Jones first provided the voice of Darth Vader, while another actor wore the costume.]  Lando made his debut in The Empire Strikes Back (1980), the first sequel to Star Wars (1977).

Lando Calrissian gets his first solo comic book series with the recently launched title, Lando.  The comic book miniseries is written by Charles Soule, drawn by Alex Maleev, colored by Paul Mounts, and lettered by Joe Caramagna.

Lando #1 (“Part 1”) opens sometime after the events depicted in the original Star Wars film.  The story begins on the Imperial colony world, Castell, shortly after Lando has bedded Ssaria, an Imperial Moff.  Lando needs something from her to pay a debt to “Papa Toren,” some kind of crime boss, but things don't quite work out for Lando.  Lando convinces his partner, Lobot, to join him on another gambit.  He recruits the twin weirdos, Aleskin and Pavol, and Sava Korin Pers to steal something – something of which none of them understands the true value.

Not long after the release of The Empire Strikes Back, a trio of novels featuring Lando Calrissian were published [Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu; Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon; and Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka, all written by L. Neil Smith].  So it is strange that in the character's previous 34 years of existence no one thought to create even a Lando solo comic book miniseries, especially considering the almost uncountable number of Star Wars comic books that Dark Horse Comics published over a period of just over two decades.  Well, half a year before the release of the seventh Star Wars film (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Marvel Comics is smart enough to give us a Lando comic book series, and it is quite good.

In terms of design and graphic style, Lando the comic book looks like The Empire Strikes Back.  In fact, in composition and rendering and in character design, Alex Maleev's work on Lando recalls the work of legendary comic book artist, Al Williamson.  It was Williamson who drew Marvel Comics' six-issue adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back, which was published in issues #39 to 44 (cover dated: September 1980 to February 1981) of Marvel's original Star Wars comic book series.  Even colorist Paul Mounts seems to have The Empire Strikes Back's color palette in mind as he colored Maleev's original art for Lando.

As for Charles Soule's story, this heist tale has potential.  It looks like a tale that could be filled with backstabbing and life-threatening situation.

However, Marvel Comics (like DC Comics) has been making a big deal about its recent moves towards diversity.  Apparently, diversity to Marvel means a few more comic books with “characters of color,” but not more Black creators producing those comic books, especially when it comes to writers.  It would have been nice if Marvel Comics had given an African-American writer a shot at writing a Lando Calrissian comic book.  It certainly would be something different, and perhaps more interesting.  What would be even more special and surprising would be if Marvel Comics knew more than two Black comic book writers to whom they could offer assignments or writing gigs.

Anyway, I'll give Lando a high grade for its lovely art.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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