Middle installments are tough for any series, whether it’s films or comic books, and while Star Wars set the standard for how intermediary chapters should be handled with The Empire Strikes Back, Lando #3 stumbles a bit with its own execution.
That’s not to say the issue is a bad or even mediocre episode. Lando #3 features some eye-catching art that accompanies some fine character moments and an unexpected twist that veers the story in the direction of exploring Sith mythology.
It’s just that despite the stakes at hand, there’s a real lack of urgency with each storyline, but it’s understandable since this seems like an issue where writer Charles Soule has to set up his chess pieces and get his characters where he wants them.
After stealing Emperor Palpatine’s ship from an Imperial ship, Lando and his crew are surprised by two red armor-clad Imperial Elite Guards waiting onboard the ship. Lando’s part-cyborg friend Lobot is mortally wounded, and while the smuggler and an Ugnaught scholar named Sava Korin tend to him, the clone-twin, panther-like duo Aleksin and Pavol fight off the Imperial guards.
After the guards are defeated and Lobot is rushed to a bacta tank, Lando and Korin decide to explore what the Imperials were guarding, and find a chamber filled with Sith artifacts. They fail to notice, however, that one of the artifacts, a familiar-looking helmet, appears to have activated when the eye sockets begin to glow.
Meanwhile, the mysterious bounty hunter Chanath Cha is in hot pursuit of the thieves. Palpatine has hired him (or her?) to retrieve his ship and allows him to commandeer another special spacecraft that can track a ship through hyperspace.
It may seem like there’s a lot happening in this issue, but a lot of it feels like Lando is spinning its wheels until it can get to the good part of the story. While the fight between the twins and the Imperial guards is gorgeously depicted by Alex Maleev (the oppressive, shadow-laden panels recall the hard science fiction films of the 1970s), it lacks any tension because of how the other characters react.
Lando and Korin share some nice dialogue about the nature of the former’s relationship with Lobot, and we get some insight into how the cyborg functions. But it’s almost like they’re taking their time with saving him, and even when his crisis is resolved, the fact that they take their time to return to help the twins only lessens the stakes.
Chanath Cha remains an interesting antagonist, but even he feels underutilized in this issue. We only see him interact with an unthreatening droid companion, and his storyline is left dangling with no real danger in sight.
Still, Lando #3‘s ending was a welcome twist. The series starts off as a breezy, light caper, but by tackling the heavier elements of the Star Wars mythos, it promises to carry some more weight within the new canon. There’s already speculation that the helmet belongs to either Bane or Revan, which could be an interesting way to tie in the Old Republic.
I doubt that Lando will measure up to Marvel’s previous Star Wars comics. While the art continues to be fantastic, it’s barely supported by a storyline that’s entertaining but not exactly thrilling. With this detour into more serious material, though, maybe the creators can prove me wrong.