In Review: Lando #1

This is a weak entry in the Star Wars canon. Marvel has got to step things up.

The covers: Marvel, why do you hate your fans? Why do you continue not to list all the variant covers available? There’s plenty of empty space on Page 1 to place the book’s credits and open up an area to show all eight covers. I’m including reviews of those I could find online. I’ve seen variants of variants that just feature the line art, but I’m going to focus only the colored covers. The Main cover is by Alex Maleev and Edgar Delgado. Lando is sitting in a chair, his feet kicked up on a table (next to a blaster), and his hands are behind his head. His smile seems to be oblivious to the shadow of a droid with a gun landing on him. The art is very angular. It’s okay, but there’s something about it that just doesn’t sit right with me about it. The coloring is surprisingly florescent. The first Variant is by John Cassaday and it’s a clever and funny magazine cover. Lando is striking a pose with his cape draping his shoulders, with his blaster held against his chest, surrounded by five different headlines, including “I Loved a Hutt: Jabba Exposed” and “Cards, Clouds, & Capes: Calrissian, In His Own Words.” This is a fun cover. The John Tyler Christopher cover is another classic riff on the Kenner action figure line, with it resembling a Lando figure on a card. It’s as good as all of Christopher’s previous variants, and one to track down. Greg Land’s variant is my favorite of all the covers and is the one I used for this review. It features a nice bust shot of Lando, looking to his left, with four circles containing him in his skift barge disguise, an X-Wing, Nein Nunb, and a stormtrooper, with the Millennium Falcon flying forward and up. Outstanding image with stellar coloring. I wish my local comic book store had had this in stock! There’s a Photo Variant featuring an image of Billy Dee Williams as his iconic character with a clipped in photo background. I love photo covers, and I love this. On Cloud City two Twin Pod Cars are speeding by as Lando races forward, a look of anger and shock on his face. This Variant by Alex Ross is gorgeous. Truly, Ross belongs among the clouds to illustrate them and this magnificent city. The composition is great and the colors jaw dropping. The penultimate Variant is by Scottie Young featuring a cartoony Lando pointing off panel stating, “Hello…What do we have here?” as Lobot watches in disgust. It’s cute, with excellent coloring, but there’s too much dead space at the bottom. The entire image should be shifted down. The final Variant is by Leinil Yu showing Lando surrounded by seven stormtroopers. I like the look of each character and the yellow background makes Lando and the troopers stand out. Overall grades: Main B-, Variant Cassaday A-, Variant Christopher A, Variant Land A+, Variant Photo A, Variant Ross A, Variant Young B-, and Variant Yu A

The story: Morning on Imperial Colony world Castell, located between the Inner Rim and the Core, Lando looks upon the golden orb on display in his lover’s quarters. He picks the object up and sits on the bed next to her. He tells her that they’ve known each other long enough not to lie to one another. He knows she’s the Imperial Governor of the sector, and she’s known as the Burning Moff. She doesn’t care that he knows, but wonders why he cares so much for the object. “Because I was going to steal it.” She pulls a gun on him and he says, “I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t have you wake up, see this thing was gone, and realize what had happened. I couldn’t leave it that way. I couldn’t leave us.” Lando is making a major gamble with Ssaria, and he’s not using her. He’s speaking from his heart and “…I’m betting my life on it.” This is a very smooth way to introduce Calrissian to new fans by writer Charles Soule and a good way for fans to remember what type of person he is. He survives — not a spoiler! — and goes off to meet Lobot, where the object’s importance is revealed and a new antagonist is introduced. I like how this character speaks to Lando, a first for a Star Wars book, but I didn’t like the reason this individual was dealing with Lando. It’s too similar to the Jabba–Han Solo relationship. Once the title character’s goal was revealed on Page 16, I was bored and I didn’t care. The pair of individuals that accompany Lando and Lobot came off as generic fighters. Their silence didn’t make them cool; it made them expendable. The final three pages do increase the tension of what’s occurred, but this came off as rote, predictable storytelling. The next chapter might change my perspective, but looked at on its own this is boring. Overall grade: C-

The art: Alex Maleev is nailing the likeness of Lando from actor Billy Dee Williams. The opening scene with Ssaria has him looking magnificent, with the first panel of the issue setting an immediate tone. Ssaria is a solid original character; she looks great and I’m hoping there’s more of her to come in Lando’s future. Lobot does not fare as well for resembling his screen counterpart, John Hollis; he looks best in profile or straight on, but when drawn in three-quarters, as he is on 7 I couldn’t tell you who that’s supposed to be. The new characters on 8 look good, but seem more suitable for the Hellboy Universe than Star Wars. The pair shown on 12 are too dark to make out what they clearly are, and this is not due to the coloring; the pair wears dark clothing and their action page has a lot of dark shapes. I thought I recognized the species of the character introduced on 14, but the final panel on that page has him looking like an Victorian English judge; though he does improve greatly on the following page. The surprise character on the final page is just horrible. This individual looks like he has on a mask, and he shouldn’t. I’m also not liking the settings. The establishment where Lobot and Lando meet is a suggestion of an environment, rather than a fully rendered locale. Allowing a color to fill in the empty spaces didn’t help. I have no clear idea where Lando is when he met the pair on 12; the setting is just a series of windows and doors, but seem randomly placed: for example, on 13’s third panel note how there are two bars behind Lobot and Lando, but when the same angle is shown again in the fifth panel, the bars have disappeared and the characters haven’t moved. This is very hit and miss. Overall grade: C-

The colors: This book has the most drastic coloring I’ve ever seen in a comic, let alone in a Star Wars comic. I’ve never seen Paul Mounts do a job like this before. The first five pages are gorgeous, set in a the light of morning in the Moff’s quarters. I have nothing but praise for these pages. However, I have to withdraw that praise in the next locale, which is so dark as to render the art useless. Granted, the setting should be dark due to the dealings going on, but the second panel on 6 and the second panel on 7 are useless because of the coloring. Things are slightly more visible in the next room, but then it’s back to the overly dark meeting place. I don’t understand why the next setting would require hot pink lighting or the drastic shift to blues on 12, let alone the ridiculous rose that follows. This color scheme seems as random as the art. Overall grade: D+

The letters: Since Marvel acquired Star Wars I’ve expressed my displeasure with the font chosen for dialogue by VC’s Joe Caramagna. I’ve felt it’s too frail for the strength of this franchise. This issue has another example of why this lettering needs to be changed. The bottom panel of Page 4 has Lando speaking and the font of his second through fourth lines have been considerably shrunk from the first line: Caramagna crammed the dialogue into this balloon by shrinking the font. It’s inconsistently sized within the same balloon. He would have had more space had he created a separate dialogue balloon before Lando for the first line and then used the remaining space for the remaining text. This type of error should have been caught by one of the three editors credited on the front page. The remainder of Caramagna’s work is made up of sounds and scene settings. It’s time Marvel rethink their direction with lettering on this franchise. Overall grade: C+

The final line: This is a weak entry into the Star Wars canon. Marvel has got to step things up. Overall grade: C

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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