In Review: Lando #5

Unnecessary and visually disappointing. Look elsewhere for Star Wars stories.

The cover: Lando looks to his back right to see what someone thinks of his hand as he has to make a decision while playing Sabacc. There’s a good number of chips on the table, but the three individuals across from don’t see all that good, as all that can be seen of them are their hands and their glowing red eyes. A decent image by interior artist Alex Maleev, though it’s an odd construction. There’s not much shown of the title character, who’s engaged in an action that will mean little to anyone who’s not a fan, and the red eyes of his three opponents can barely be seen through the title and credits at the top. This is decent, but not memorable. Overall grade: B-

The story: Bounty hunter Chanath Cha was revealed last issue to be a female friend of Lando’s, who must either recapture the Emperor’s stolen yacht or destroy it, while former allies Aleksin and Pavol have been corrupted by the Sith artifacts aboard the ship, have armed themselves with lightsabers, and are raring to kill everyone on board. Neither Lando nor Sava Korin Pers are happy with Cha’s decision to blow the ship; Pers saying the loss of the Sith artifacts would be an immeasurable loss for history. Cha doesn’t want Vader to hunt her down, so she’s going through with her plan to destroy it. She can’t reactivate the escape pods, so she’ll take the pair to safety. Lando tells her Lobot is aboard, hurt, and that changes things. Lando says he shouldn’t be taken out of the bacta tank he’s in, adding, “I know you two left it a little…tense…but…” This comment gets an emotional response from the bounty hunter, but any backstory is left hanging with the sudden arrival of a pair of antagonists. I was impressed with this tease of Lobot’s past, but it’s lost to return to the action. Charles Soule has to wrap up this saga in 16 pages, and he does, but it’s not satisfying. First comes the event in panel in the third panel on Page 7; why would this be done when another character was easily accepted into the fold after being “indoctrinated”? The events on Page 11 could have been done in a panel, but are milked. The final three pages are a painful coda, with one character losing their sense of self, though the door is left wide open at the top of Page 18 for a full recovery, and a character lectures Lando on his future on the final page. I just couldn’t believe it. The entire purpose of this five issue arc seems to have had the speech of the final page said to the title character. If so, that’s a terrible payoff. Overall grade: D+ 

The art: The visuals take a slide as well on this issue. Things start well on the first page as Alex Maleev shows where the characters are in relationship to each other, showing where each character’s focus is: Lando and Sava to each other and Cha, while she’s focused on a panel to blow the ship. Spacing issues show in the first panel on Page 2: why to we need that eighth of the panel on right to be empty? This repeated, to larger proportions later: Page 5, panel 1; Page 6, panel four; Page 8, panel three; Page 9, panel three; and all the wasted space in the first panel on 10. There are several panels where a pulling in to the characters or the action would have been much more superior than what’s shown. Questions also arise on 11, panel three (Why would Cha turn away from the window, since that’s where she’s speaking) and why such big panels for the individual she’s speaking to? This character soon leaves and isn’t seen again, so why bother? There’s also a stylistic question with separating panels for what is essentially one panel; for example, Page 15 has four panels in the center of the page that are split with borders, though an image runs through two. Usually when such panels are split, it’s for dramatic reasons, such as allowing a reader to focus on the moment in slow motion; but there’s nothing worth focusing on in that first panel. There is something to focus on individually in the remaining three, but that first serves no emotional or story purpose. The last page loses much emotion because too much space is devoted to exterior shots, while the focus should be on the characters, and they’re drowning in text for the three panels they’re in. This was disappointing. Overall grade: D+

The colors: The colors by Paul Mounts are good. He mixes his palette really well. The first four pages are bright interior shots of the Emperor’s ship as the, now, three protagonists are speaking. The highlights that Mounts places on characters’ faces look sharp; I really like the work done on Lando at the bottom of Page 1. There’s a very slick use of color in the final panel of Page 4, which should telegraph to readers who’s about to appear. However, it’s overkill on 5 and 6. This could be due to the way the art has been created, but it’s difficult to make out any highlights on the characters standing before the red background or even in the distance, such as the fourth panel on 6. Once away from this color, things improve tremendously, with a variety of shades being used. Though the final page is back to overkill, with violet being used too much, making the art clump. Still, this is a good job. Overall grade: B

The letters: Recognizing that I’ve not enjoyed the work of VC’s Joe Caramagna on this series, he wasn’t exactly given too many opportunities by the visuals to do a decent job. He has a lot of text to place in some boxes, with it drowning out much of the image: Page 8, panel four; Page 13, panel five; and Pages 18 – 20. These are not his fault, as the way the art is drawn doesn’t leave him any other choice for placement. That said, when there’s plenty of space in some panels, such as the second and fifth on 6, he’s not given much to insert, so the dialogue seems smaller than usual. Caramagana creates dialogue, sounds, a prerecorded warning, robot dialogue, and weak speak. Sounds seem as if they are missing, such as a pistol makes a discharge but there’s no sound for contact? The ultra-slim font remains a choice that has these characters sound like they’re out of breath. Overall grade: D+

The final line: I couldn’t recommend this to the hardest of hard core fans. This issue was a disappointment, as was this entire arc. Unnecessary and visually disappointing. Look elsewhere for Star Wars stories. Overall grade: D+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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