Comic Review – In “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Lando,” the Scoundrel and Chewbacca Seek the Plans to Jabba’s Palace

“Lando Calrissian and poor Chewbacca never returned from this awful place.” With that line of dialogue from the beginning of Return of the Jedi, the protocol droid C-3PO implies that the rebels haven’t seen or heard from Lando or Chewie since the end of The Empire Strikes Back. Now we all know that’s not exactly the case, and in the current canon the two adventurers actually come and go from Jabba’s Palace a few times before the events of the third film in the original Star Wars trilogy begin.

In this week’s Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Lando one-shot comic book from Marvel (the third in a series celebrating the film’s 40th anniversary), we get another piece of that puzzle as Chewie and Lando continue to seek a way to retrieve their friend Han Solo from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt.

This Lando comic begins with a negotiation between its title character and a Nikto black-market dealer named Narin, who is offering to sell the gambler the plans to Jabba’s Palace for the price of 5,000 credits. But the deal falls through when Chewie attacks Narin in frustration, bumping the price up to 10,000 credits. Desperate for cash, Lando and Chewbacca wander the streets of an unnamed planet until the scoundrel comes up with an idea: visit an old friend called Elocin (if the traditional Star Wars backwards naming conventions hold, this character is likely named after someone named Nicole– perhaps an acquaintance of this issue’s writer Stephanie Phillips of Marvel’s Cosmic Ghost Rider title) to ask a steep favor. Elocin seems to run a gambling den on this planet, and at first she refuses Lando’s request, but when Chewie offers his own services up as ante, she agrees to play a round of Sabacc for the money. One tense card game later, and we’re just about to find out who won when the Empire arrives to arrest Lando and Chewbacca, with slimy Narin having turned them in for the significant bounties on their heads. This leads to a blaster fight in the casino, followed by a showdown between Lando and an Imperial officer in a caged creature-fight pit.

One of the monsters eats the Imperial goon and our heroes are able to make their escape, with Lando promising not to darken Elocin’s doorstep ever again. But Elocin surprises the two co-pilots of the Millennium Falcon with a surprise– she grants them with the secret plans they were seeking after all, having “asked nicely” for them from a tied-up Narin. Lando and Chewie fly away in the Falcon, with the former claiming they’ve “got everything they need to save Han.” This has me wondering whether the current runs of Star Wars comics will actually catch up to the events of Return of the Jedi this year, which would be appropriate timing– one editor’s note clarifies that this comic takes place after issue #38 of Marvel’s flagship Star Wars comic’s current volume. Anyway, I thought this one-shot was pretty decent; Phillips has Lando’s voice down pretty well, if not quite as spot-on as Charles Soule, who writes the aforementioned Star Wars comic. The action and setting are all fun, and it’s cool to see the two iconic main characters hanging out together a bit more between movies. The only thing I question is the introduction of Elocin, another persona from Han and Lando’s past that we hadn’t ever met before. I wonder if this role could have been played by Qi’ra or Maz Kanata instead of inventing someone new out of whole cloth, cluttering up these characters’ backstories even more than they already were. Either way, this is decent stuff and I’m looking forward to more of the Return of the Jedi releases.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Lando #1 is available now wherever comic books are sold.