“Lando” #1 opens with the title character pondering a sculpture with a very particular purpose in mind. From that opening image, writer Charles Soule and artist Alex Maleev turn on the Calrissian charm and invite readers along on an adventure.
Writer Charles Soule re-purposes some of Lando’s most memorable lines from “The Empire Strikes Back” to hit notes with readers steeped in the “Star Wars” legend and does so quite nicely. More importantly, though, Soule finds the essence of the character brought to life by Billy Dee Williams in 1980 and pushes that throughout the entire issue. Soule presses that essence and rounds out Calrissian’s life a bit, crafting developments for the readers to immerse themselves in alongside Lando. Soule develops a supporting cast whole cloth, introducing them to readers through Lobot, Lando’s aide and pal.
From the first panel, Maleev finds similar notes in expressions and posture to add resonance to his drawings of Lando and Lobot, tapping into the essences of both characters. The rest of the universe wobbles between well-defined, polished and thoroughly engulfed in shadow. For a “Star Wars” comic, there is a disruptive lack of familiar species until Lando meets with Korin Pers, who appears to be an Ugnaught. An appearance by Mas Amedda in two panels of conversation with a uniformed Imperial Commander adds the “Star Wars” look to “Lando” #1 but comes a little too late to entrench this issue into the galaxy.
The settings feel larger, more sterile and less used than “Star Wars” sets and backdrops usually do. The best comparison is that some sets look more like “Star Trek” as opposed to “Star Wars,” or even more like prequel trilogy sets as opposed to the original trilogy. Even the colors seem overly bright, beyond cinematic to absurd at times but majestic and serene at others, seemingly running through the entire color palette. The visuals are finished off with tight, identifying captions to provide quick reference points. Letterer Joe Caramagna has his work cut out for him, given that this first issue is a bit heavier on dialogue, which works great with the less animated characters filling Maleev’s detailed panels.
Soule and company keep the action minimal in “Lando” #1, focusing on setting the table and establishing Lando’s situation. It’s a fine but slow introduction that is more necessary than not, given Lando’s lack of connection to more familiar characters at this point in the saga. I can understand the effort to give Lando a corner of the “Star Wars” universe to call his own, but the lack of familiarity in the surroundings and species make this seem more like a generic fantasy adventure than a “Star Wars” tale, at least before the final three pages of the issue. “Lando” #1 brings a great concept to the “Star Wars” lineup and a fun character with a fairly blank slate for his history, but this series needs to pack a little more punch to keep readers hooked. Hopefully now that Soule and Maleev have explained to readers who’s who and what’s what, the action can get rolling on a “Star Wars” level.