In Review: Lando-Double or Nothing #1

Rodney Barnes has captured Lando in fine fashion and the trouble he puts him in is perfect.

The covers: Five different covers for you to gamble on. The Regular cover is by W. Scott Forbes and features a bust shot of Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian wearing his yellow shirt, his Vandor outfit. Behind them are several red, while, and yellow lights creating streaming powerful beams behind him. Just below him in the foreground the Millennium Falcon goes streaking by from left to right. The title at the top is the same as the previous Lando series, though Double or Nothing has been added. The lettering on this subtitle is terrible. It looks cheesy, done in a wannabe eighties style. Who designed this subtitled? The Variant cover by Joe Quinones shows the gambler finding the moves he’s making on a beautiful blue Twi’lek interrupted as five stormtroopers pass by him. The troopers could be there for someone else, given that there’s a wide array of species in the room, but he’s grabbing his blaster just in case trouble comes his way. The look on Lando’s face is fantastic, with him obviously irritated. The colors on this are also good with him and the Twi’lek colored brighter than ever other element in the image. The cover I was lucky enough to pick up was the Action Figure Variant cover by John Tyler Christopher. This features a faux Kenner action figure of Lando Calrissian: Vandor Outfit. The figure looks great — I wish this was real! The large image of Lando is good, with him squinting his eyes at something serious. The Incentive Movie cover A is a photograph from Solo, with Lando smiling as Han sits before him to play Sabacc. His smile is infectious and he is dazzling. The final cover is the Incentive Movie cover B. This photo comes later in the film when he’s piloting the Millennium Falcon. The colors are very blue and the stars can be seen outside his window. This is much more serious Lando, but I’m a fan of photocovers and I still love this. Overall grades: Regular A, Variant A, Action Figure Variant A+, Incentive Movie A A+, and Incentive Movie B A

The story: Opening near Batuv, a narrator states how the universe is dangerous as several ships, including the Millennium Falcon, fly past a Star Destroyer and several watchful TIE fighters. Rodney Barnes then moves his tale inside the Falcon where Lando and L3 are arguing over what the ship needs: he wants some couches, a wet bar, and a portrait of himself, while she wants the defense and communication systems upgraded. This conversation is left unresolved as the story moves to Kullgroon and several stormtroopers monitor some factory workers. One worker touches his ear and his daughter Kristiss responds back. He speaks to her as quietly as he can. “The stormtrooper security force is turning over in three days. While their numbers are low, we can overtake them and gain our freedom. If we get the weapons we need, that is.” This is the premise of this issue: can Kristiss and her group of freedom fighters get someone to get them weapons and transport them to Kullgroon to liberate the planet. If only she knew someone who could help…The story then moves to Batuv where it appears Lando won his argument with L3. Once Kristiss approaches Lando he turns on the charm and Barnes writes him wonderfully here. In fact, Barnes’s Calrissian is perfect, with every word he utters in character, but when he’s being Mister Smooth the character is unquestionably charming. The motivation for Lando to help the group is good. I was happy to see L3 and her “overlord” have a conversation on why certain people should be helped, touching on her motivations in Solo. The book ends with an action sequence that suits the danger, with Lando doing something he didn’t do in the most recent film. I appreciated seeing Lando on these pages, because it gives him more of a heroic nature. The book ends with the Falcon reaching Kullgroon. A solid start from Barnes. I want more. Overall grade: A-

The art: Paolo Villanelli is the book’s artist and his work is good. The opening page shows the ships in space, with the Star Destroyers and its fighters dominating and the other ships very small in comparison. Villanelli pulls in tighter to the ships, revealing the Millennium Falcon before focusing solely on the iconic ship. Lando’s first appearance is at the top of Page 2 and it is the perfect debut for him: looking directly at the reader, one eyebrow up, and a slight smile on his face as he considers something. A change in point of view shows he’s not looking at the reader but where he thinks the Falcon needs some upgrades. I was really impressed with L3 throughout the issue: droids are hit and miss with artists and she looks flawless every time she appears. The page ends with her holding her head at the distress Lando causes her; a solid physical tell of the character’s thoughts. The factory at Kullgroon isn’t as full realized as other settings in this book, but Villanelli gets its dismal and depressing state to the reader clearly enough. The first appearance of Kristiss and her crew is terrific, with them leaning forward on the bridge. The lines in the characters’ faces is a good way to differ them from others, as well giving Kristiss a constant visage of aggression. Page 5 has Lando trying to make a deal and his closing image is great. I found myself smiling every time the title character smiled in this book. The stance Lando takes when initially speaking with the freedom fighter is awesome — it’s so Lando. Pages 14 and 15 are a true double-paged splash as the Falcon is shown engaging in some action. The ships don’t look finished in this illustration, they were much rougher than I expected. The effect behind the Falcon appears to be created by the colorist more so than the artist. Most of this appears to be colors more than art. Things improve much after this, with the combat and the characters looking good. A generally good job overall. Overall grades: B+

The colors: In addition to giving elements of the book colors that are similar to those in Solo, Andres Mossa makes them dramatic right from the get-go. The sun in the first panel is tremendous, starting the book off with an explosion of color. Notice the light shines on the ships passing through the system, but the Imperial ships maintain their dead white and gray colors. When the Falcon gets its close-up at the bottom, the bright sun is behind it, making it seem as explosive as the first panel. A nice touch. The characters’ flesh is well colored throughout the book, with even L3 getting appropriate shading. The colors within Kristiss’s ship are subdued, visually making them look as though they are undercover. Notice the difference between Pages 5 and 6: they’re at the same location, but when Lando is trying to procure something for himself the colors are bright and when Kristiss approaches him the colors darken to reinforce the dangerous nature of her deal. When the battle in space occurs several shades of blue are used and they do make the setting beautiful. Overall grade: A

The letters: This issue’s text includes scene settings, narration and dialogue (the same font). L3’s speech, and two sounds. I don’t blame VC’s Joe Caramagna for the continued use of scene settings that are awkward because they have a white outline that makes them blurry or for the dialogue font that is just too wispy to command any strength from any speaker. The same can be said for the sounds: there is a major space battle in this issue that is silent, yet the sound of a seat belt is heard? Something is seriously wrong if that is necessary and the Academy Award winning sounds of Star Wars battles are not. I am not happy to see that the narration is the same font as the dialogue; it should be differed by the font style and not the balloons and their colors that contain them. This was not a strong element to the book. Overall grade: C+

The final line: Rodney Barnes has captured Lando in fine fashion and the trouble he puts him in is perfect. I wish the art had been a little stronger and the lettering different. This isn’t a perfect Star Wars book, but will please those who want to see more of Donald Glover’s version of the character. I’m looking forward to more. Overall grade: B+ 

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Star-Wars-Lando-Double-Or-Nothing-2018-1-of-5/digital-comic/654136?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

To see the covers go to my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

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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