After some promising twists that appeared to be setting up a roaring climax, Marvel’s Lando comic lets some of the air out of its balloon with its latest issue. While Charles Soule continues to reliably build on the ancient Sith mythology and artist Alex Maleev milks a dread-laden atmosphere out of the setting, the story lacks the sense of urgency and tension that permeated the previous issues.
Lando’s mission to steal the Emperor’s personal ship, the Imperialis, has gone awry. Lobot is recovering from a near-fatal attack by two Imperial Elite guards, who were hiding aboard a hidden treasure room in the ship.
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While Calrissian and his Ugnaught scholar, Sava Korin, debate how much the Sith artifacts in the treasure room may be worth, one of the artifacts activates and exerts some sort of influence on Aleksin, an acrobatic cat-like clone. Aleksin retrieves a lightsaber and slashes off the arm of its twin, Pavol, forcing Lando and Sava to flee to another part of the ship.
Meanwhile, the Emperor’s personal bounty hunter, Chanath Cha, has reached the Imperialis and steals aboard, deactivating all the escape pods. But when the operative encounters Lando and Korin, it turns out that Chanath is not only a she, but also a former acquaintance (or perhaps more) of Lando’s. Now, it appears they need to team up to defeat the Sith presence that has taken hold of the twin clones.
On paper, this may sound exciting, but on the page, it’s not executed well. The issue is extremely dialogue-heavy, especially in the exchanges between Lando and Korin, deflating the tension of the moment with needless banter.
Plus, Soule tries to shoehorn in some character background that feels like a last-minute thought, like mentioning that Aleksin and Pavol were planning to pay for an operation to have a clone of their own.
I also wasn’t thrilled with the Chanath Cha twist. Not only was it predictable, but it feels much too convenient based on what we’ve seen so far. I got the impression Cha was a ruthless, no-nonsense bounty hunter, so to see her suddenly change personality just at the sight of Lando comes off as too abrupt.
Maleev gets plenty of mileage out of the dark, claustrophobic interior of Palpatine’s ship, and it melds well with the hard-boiled, detective noir style the comic is shooting for. There are a few panels, like the fight between Aleksin and Pavol and the encounter with Cha, where the spatial geography doesn’t feel quite right, but for the most part the action flows really well.
Soule’s incorporation of the darker elements of the Star Wars universe is admirable, but it feels like he’s lost his grip a bit on this story. Lando‘s certainly not the weakest of the Marvel Star Wars comics, but, in this issue especially, it’s the one where it’s most apparent that the writers are trapped by the weekly comic’s short length. Hopefully, he manages to tie it all together for a satisfying close in the next issue.