WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Star Wars: Lando – Double or Nothing #4 by Rodney Barnes, Paolo Villanelli, Andres Mossa and Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
The legend of Lando Calrissian has reverberated throughout the galaxy for decades... as Lando loves reminding anyone who will listen. And now, with Star Wars firmly in Disney's control, that history is finally being written in Marvel Comics' Star Wars: Lando - Double or Nothing.
This story's prelude to Donald Glover's character arc in Solo: A Star Wars Story, giving us insight into the man Billy Dee Williams introduced us to in 1980's Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Sure, that first appearance told us he was a smuggler like Han Solo and the original owner of the Millennium Falcon, but it isn't until Issue #4 of his current comic that we find out exactly what it was that made him one of the Empire's biggest enemies.
Lando's past, as much as we hear him and Han talking about it, is very obscure. In 1980's The Empire Strikes Back, he hid Han and Co. from Darth Vader, while Luke Skywalker trained on Dagobah with Yoda. Lando oversaw Cloud City, a Tibanna gas mining colony floating in the clouds of the planet Bespin, and it was quite a place to live. After all, it was one of the few areas free from the Empire's clutches. Or so we thought.
Lando sold the rebels out, making it clear he had to do what was in the best interest of his people. Up until that point, it was commonly believed he was just full of hot air, because the more sinister your reputation is as a smuggler, the more business you get. But now, we knew he was the real deal, someone with a dark past whom the Empire hated. Fans hoped Solo would reveal why he became a public enemy, but all director Ron Howard showed was Lando ticking off fellow thugs by selling weapons and smuggling goods. In other, words we never found out what he had done to the Empire -- especially as the Kessel Run coaxium heist was never traced back to him and Han.
As it turns out, Lando's bad Imperial rap sheet wasn't due to what he stealing, but who he was stealing.
Issue #4 reveals he's liberating slaves from Imperial colonies, reducing the Empire's labor-force. This title so far has been about Lando and L3-37 taking a job to smuggle weapons to the Kullgroon droid assembly line, so that the Petrusians can rise up and overthrow their captors. As he told his employer, Kristiss, that's all he's here for - delivering weapons and getting paid. However, when she gets captured, Lando has no choice but to rescue her if he wants to get his money.
L3-37's anti-slavery mindset has rubbed off on him though, as she believes no droid nor any other race should be slaves. Lando sees the Petrusians toiling and when they tell him an enslaved life's better than being the Empire's enemy he decides to step up and be the leader they lack. He sneaks a small resistance back to the Falcon, they bear arms and then return to rescue Kristiss's people.
This is a huge move for someone who's usually selfish and all about quick-paying heists. It's not about the money anymore, but about giving folks their freedom. Lando's revolution attacks every Stormtrooper in sight, ready to free the entire colony. It's uncharacteristically heroic, and as the Stormtroopers radio in for help, it's what puts his name atop the galaxy's most-wanted list.
It would pay off in the long-term though, because this is something which would help him gain employment from the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate in Solo. But most of all, it's a rare glimpse into Lando's humane side. Maybe this freedom fighter schtick is what got people to follow him on Cloud City later on in life.
It would make sense they'd want to live under someone who shows compassion and wants liberty for everyone. Well, that is, until Vader shows up with the deal of a lifetime at his doorsteps.