Hello, what have we here? Thanks to Solo: A Star Wars Story and the pitch-perfect casting of Donald Glover as the coolest con man in the galaxy, Lando Calrissian is back in a big way! In some ways, we’re looking forward to seeing young Lando more than the adventures of young Han, especially since Billy Dee Williams has been nowhere to be found in the Sequel Trilogy films.
So to fill that Lando void in our lives, we present a short but fun reading list featuring the original owner of the Millennium Falcon, the man who brought back capes as a fashion accessory, and the gambler who took down the second Death Star (with the help of Wedge Antilles and Nein Nunb) – Lando Calrissian!
Let’s take a look…
Marvel’s Star Wars #56-57 (1981) – Legends
Writers: David Michelinie, Louise Jones, and Walt Simonson
Artist: Walt Simonson
Released just months after The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars #56-57 was the very first original Lando Calrissian Expanded Universe story. And by the maker’s bristling beard, what a creative team! The great David Michelinie, Louise Jones, (before she was Simonson), and the man himself, Walt Simonson, all fleshing out not only Lando but the residents of Bespin as well.
In this two-part story, Lando and his new Rebel pals go up against the con man’s reprogrammed cyborg pal, Lobot, to stop some Ugnaunt machinations. That’s right, I said Ugnaunt machinations, and I’m not sorry. These issues feature Lando at his scheming best as he must save his bald cyborg buddy and regain control of Bespin from the Empire.
Any deep dive into Lando Calrissian has to begin with these two issues because this was the first non-film take on the scoundrel and they feature some of comics’ best visionaries in a story that really fleshes out Cloud City.
Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu (1983) – Legends
Writer: L. Neil Smith
Yes, folks, Lando starred in his own trilogy of novels in 1983, which shows just how much of a splash the character had made post-Empire. These novels served to flesh out the character for fans who loved his victory run during the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi just a few months before.
Think about it, Luke didn’t have his own novels but Lando (and Han) did! Perhaps the more literary-minded Star Wars fans favored the scoundrels? Anyway, Lando having his own series was a pretty big deal because in the bygone days of 1983, there weren’t too many prominent sci-fi series featuring a hero of color.
Written by L. Neil Smith, The Lando Calrissian Adventures were filled with fast-paced pulpy goodness. These books were flashbacks to when Lando was captain of the Millennium Falcon and before he became the administrator of Cloud City. Actually, it will be interesting to compare these EU adventures to what we’re going to get in Solo.
In Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu, which might be the pulpiest title ever, Lando tries to con his way into a treasure horde as big as a star system. The plot is a bit sparse to be honest, but Smith nails the Lando character, as the future big man of Cloud City tries to strike it rich.
Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon (1983) – Legends
Writer: L. Neil Smith
Okay, nope: Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon is the pulpiest book title ever. Did I mention that Lando’s companion in these novels is a five-armed droid named Vuffi Raa? Kinda makes you wonder about Lando’s droid companion in Solo, doesn’t it?
Anyway, in Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon, Lando travels to a star system that caters to immoral gamblers and scoundrels. Smith really has Lando’s cadence down in this one. Overall, the novel reads like an early eighties attempt at a sci-fi Rat Pack film.
Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka (1983) – Legends
Writer: L. Neil Smith
Oh wow, the title Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka is just transcendent. ThonBoka!
In the final Lando novel, Smith has his titular mustached hero and Vuffi Raa race to save an alien species in danger of extinction. This unusually altruistic act brings the pair into renewed conflict with the baddie from Mindharp of Sharu – Rokur Gepta, the Sorcerer of Tund! That’s right, I said the Sorceror of Tund! Doesn’t really have the same ring as “Dark Lord of the Sith,” but it’s still pretty awesome.
And thus, with Starcave of ThonBoka, Lando’s OG EU adventures came to an end. But what a ride! Mindharps, Flamewinds, Starcaves, capes, and mustaches… What’s not to love? One has to wonder why there was no Lobot love in these books. No disrespect meant to Vuffi Raa.
Marvel’s Lando (2015) – Canon
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Alex Maleev
But the Lobot love is on display 32 years later in the Disney era! In 2015, Lando Calrissian returned to the pages of Marvel Comics in this awesome miniseries by Charles Soule and Alex Maleev.
Set in the days before Lando became Baron Administrator of Cloud City, Lando and Lobot set out to steal a valuable pleasure cruiser filled with invaluable intel and treasure. Too bad for Lando that the ship belongs to Emperor Palpatine. Ooops.
High adventure follows as Lando must pay a terrible price for his actions. Marvel’s Lando redefines the character for the new Disney canon and serves as a perfect bridge between the character’s appearance in Solo and The Empire Strikes Back.