Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Alex Maleev
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Lando reaches the halfway point with its third issue, and the plot has certainly picked up some interesting developments. After two issues of building tension we finally get some old fashioned action in the series with two Imperial guardsman taking on the twin hunters, Aleskin and Pavol, in a close quarters fight. But even in this more action-packed issue writer Charles Soule appears to be more interested in world-building and fleshing out secondary characters — a trend this book seems to have continued from Princess Leia — then in filling an actual plot. In this case we have the character of Lobot, who we saw a few times in The Empire Strikes Back as Lando’s security chief on Bespin, which is certainly welcome. Even in the old continuity Lobot made only a handful of appearances outside of the movie, and was never given much of a personality (which, admittedly, would be hard to do with a functionally lobotomized cyborg). Here his back story is much more tragic than it first appears, and though details remain slim Soule does a lot with only a little.
While Lando’s crew is the main focus of the book there is a secondary story going on with the bounty hunter that Palpatine personally hired last issue, Chanath Cha. Cha is a new character to Star Wars, and as such we will have to wait and see if he will end up as a canon fodder villain or a recurring enemy over time. For now, though, he is essentially a more talkative Boba Fett with an armor design reminiscent of the blue senate guards from the prequel movies. There is a lot of potential here, so I am hoping that he will survive the series to become a regular antagonist. Interestingly enough, he is also gifted the spaceship we see Darth Maul piloting in A Phantom Menace, which Palpatine has apparently held on to all these years (this takes place around the time of A New Hope). Other than its appearance in A Phantom Menace, and a brief appearance in Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir, the ship is a blank slate as far as the new continuity is concerned, so it will be interesting to see where it ends up at the end of this series. This could suggest that Cha is intended to stick around a while.
The series is not without its problems, though. The main one at this point is how to square up Lando finding all of these dark artifacts in Palpatine’s possession and still going through with his actions in Empire Strikes Back. His motive is, and always will be, self-preservation, but knowing what he does about what the Emperor is keeping it would be hard for him to ever work out any deal with Vader at all. Adding on to that, it is clear that his identity as the thief of this vessel must remain a secret (suggesting Cha will not survive this series), or else the Emperor would never let him live no matter where he hides — and certainly not as a CEO of a mining colony out in the open. There are still two issues to get these questions wrapped up, but they still nibble at the corner of my mind with every issue I read of this series.
Artist Alex Maleev is not someone I would have expected to be headlining one of Marvel’s Star Wars titles, but his style (appropriately dialed back) does seem to suit the book. There is some striking imagery in this issue, and particularly when he is paired with colorist Paul Mounts his style pops appreciably off the page. I have to admit I found his fight scenes a bit hard to follow (which surprised me, given that he made a name for himself on Daredevil many years ago), but since the fights only take up a small portion of the book that does not crop up often. His ability to convey conversations, on the other hand, is fantastic, and his attention to background detail really sells the story. I might not have selected him to be a Star Wars artist, but he is proving that I would have been wrong to overlook him.
All told Lando #3 continues the trend of quality Marvel Star Wars comics. There are many lingering questions in the air, but plenty of time to get them resolved. Most importantly we are seeing more secondary characters (and ships, even) getting fleshed out with more detailed stories. I am also hoping that Chanath Cha is part of a wave of new characters that join the new continuity’s long-term plans. There is a lot to like here, and I cannot wait to see how this series concludes.
Star Wars: Lando will be collected in a tradepaperback, which you can pre-order on Amazon or at your local comic shop. Individual issues are available at Comixology, on your Kindle or at your comic shop.