The much-maligned (at least based upon the first impression) Lando Calrissian was the first character we were introduced to that walked the line of good guy/bad guy that we weren’t sure could be trusted. Even Han didn’t try to screw over the rebellion, he just wanted to be left alone. Lando, on the other hand, always looked out for number one. Just ask Chewbacca. In classic George Lucas redemption style, Lando comes around because deep down he is a good guy who loves a good cape.
The first frienemy in Star Wars, it’s because of his shady dealings with the Empire just to save himself that made Lando one of my least played with, albeit necessary, action figures. Back in the day, I had a friend at the time who was equally as shady, that I used to call him my Lando. We’d play together, yes, but I always had to watch him. From time to time he would try to cheat at something whether it was racing our bikes or playing Star Wars. Before I left his house or vice versa, I’d have to count my figures before and after to make sure any of mine didn’t magically make their way into his pocket.
In Legends, Lando’s character didn’t take long to get some love when author L. Neil Smith penned the Lando Calrissian trilogy in 1983 shortly after the release of Return of the Jedi: The Mindharp of Sharu, The Starcave of Thonboka, and The Flamewind of Oseon. If you’ve seen Solo: A Star Wars Story some of these terms might sound familiar as they were referenced in the movie. These were weird books, but I loved them. Subsequently, Lando appeared in several Legends novels.
Within the last few years, there’s been a lot more content that includes Lando and how he got his start in “the business.” I don’t remember if any Legends canon went towards developing Lando’s backstory or more in-depth character development. That is one area where I think the new(er) canon has excelled in. Since 2014, Lando has been a young entrepreneur making appearances in Star Wars Rebels, two comic miniseries (Lando Calrissian and Lando: Double or Nothing), and Solo: A Star Wars Story, Last Shot, and then of course in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi as a member of the Rebel Alliance.
Lando first appears in Double or Nothing (written by Rodney Barnes with art by Paolo Villanelli) which predates Solo by a New York minute; thus the Lando we see here is very much like the Lando in Solo. This series chronicles the events of Lando, who at this time is smuggling for a living, and is hired to help “a Petrusian freedom fighter named Kristiss, to smuggle weapons to her comrades enslaved by the Empire in the droid factories of Kullgroon.” Without giving too much away, this series does a great job giving us more Lando/L3 banter. I found the moments between the two endearing without losing any of their snarkiness. Or her snarkiness to be specific. It was interesting to see Lando still smuggling at this point because, by the time we see him in Solo, we know he has retired from smuggling. It also shows him helping out “rebels” years before he meets Leia at Cloud City or the Ghost crew in Rebels.
Following the events of Lando: Double or Nothing, captain Calrissian’s next appearance is in Solo: A Star Wars Story. As we know, and as I’ve said, Lando has now retired from gambling, and is now a “sportsman.” Lando is sitting comfortably at Fort Ypso on Vandor until a young Han Solo enters his life. Fast forward a day or so, and Lando has lost his prize possession, his ship the Millennium Falcon, his best friend and companion L3 is now part of the Falcon, and he is generally banged up emotionally and physically.
Jump ahead about five years to Lando’s next appearance is in Star Wars Rebels. Inching ever closer to becoming a rebel general despite his dealings with the undercarriage of society. Lando did what he could to help out Hera and Kanan, playing a part in enabling the crew to get their hands on some much-needed fuel. One of the few characteristics that distinguish Lando from a bounty hunter, regardless of their love for money, Lando won’t allow himself to go against his core values.
In between the events of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Lando makes another appearance in another comic miniseries called Lando Calrissian (written by Charles Soule with art by Alex Maleev). In my opinion it is the best Star Wars comic of the new canon. It’s right up there with Lost Stars as some of the best of the literary world in Star Wars. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. I mean, it shows what Lobot was like before he the Lobot we know from Empire. And the relationship between the two was not something I was expecting. It has a little bit of everything; espionage, romance, friendships, dark side mysteries, etc.… Go out and read it now. And then read Darth Vader 21 and lets talk.
By the time Lando becomes Baron Administrator of Cloud City, he has been through a lot which is precisely why I chose to focus on some of the secondary characters. Yes, Leia and Luke have had a rough go of it (yes I know their dad was a Sith Lord), but it’s folks like Lando that keep the galaxy go round. Keep in mind, Lando has lost the Falcon, L3, Lobot, and Cloud City. He’s not royalty (although he may think differently), and he’s not Force-sensitive, but he is one of luckiest guys ever to grace a sabacc table.
In the end, these new stories are doing a great job of portraying a consistent character for Lando. And I can’t wait to see what’s in store for him in Episode IX.
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