I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to create and write material within the tightly monitored and extremely detailed world of Star Wars. Even when it comes to what seem like smaller, easier dips into the canon, like the five issue mini-series from Marvel, I’d imagine that it’s incredibly daunting and fairly frightening. Despite this, I’m happy to report that so far the material that’s come out of the comic book side of the galaxy has not disappointed. Writer Rodney Barnes, along with the art team of Paolo Villanelli & Andres Mossa and letterer Joe Caramagna, ensure that Lando – Double Or Nothing keeps the winning streak going, something I’m sure that our glorious titular gambler would greatly appreciate.
Sometimes reflecting on the introductory issues of mini-series can be a weird experience, as it’s pretty much akin to judging an evening’s dinner outing on the appetizer. With that said, I believe that this issue takes all the right steps to hook us into this adventure. In a lot of ways, it’s what you’d expect it to be, but that’s certainly not a bad thing. I couldn’t help but feel like Barnes was speaking right to me with Lando’s opening line of dialogue in the issue: “It’s sweet…but it could always be sweeter!” That to me read like a call out to the overall arc of Lando throughout the saga. They had me there. Yeah, we know he’s cool. But what could possibly be wrong with adding even more coolness to the equation? In my estimation, almost nothing at all.
This issue obviously coincides with Solo: A Star Wars Story and it definitely works as a companion to that story. It’s a compliment that perfectly connects in terms of tone. Sometimes in a universe with so much mystical lore and emphasis on destiny, it’s nice to take the load off and experience some banter between a man and his droid. Well, not HIS droid. His partner, who is a droid. You get it. L3’s awesome. Barnes does an excellent job with that dialogue. There’s some legitimately great lines in this. That said, there are a few times with new character Kristiss that I feel are a bit on the nose. And just based on this issue, I can’t tell if it’s just characteristic of her people to be so blatant? I’m not quite sure I enjoy her just yet, but I do fully acknowledge that I’m judging her right now based on one-fifth of a story. It also comes with the territory of dealing with characters like Lando. You always just want to get back to Lando. Which does bring me to one other small complaint: I’m not sure about the small time villain that motivates Lando to take on the mission. He seems like the type Lando’s made a fool of time and time again. But we’ll see, there’s some interesting threads set up here. Ultimately, I like that Barnes finds a balance with Lando’s smooth and easily likable nature while also showing us that he’s NOT yet experienced the humblings of his future.
Of course, imagery is as important in the galaxy far, far away as story is. It’s part of the story. It’s iconography we all love, and sometimes it can be hard to find things to add visually. I’ve read up on the art direction process in pre-production for Star Wars on screen several times and it seems like so much heart and thought goes into the smallest thing. And that same vibe comes across here thanks to Paolo Villanelli and Andres Mossa. Despite my not being sure about her character, I love the design of Kristiss and her Petrusian people. And I love the art style in general. It’s clean and fun and it evokes the charm of Donald Glover’s interpretation of the character. Man, I love the way Villanelli draws those smirks and smiles. I admittedly don’t know much about the technique side of art, but I found myself saying “Man, I wish I could see an animated show that looked like this.”
Overall, I had a great time with this issue. It isn’t a big story, but it doesn’t have to be. We have to let this brand feel smaller in scope at times. I’m very excited for the next four issues. For fans that want to consume the smaller things in the expanded canon, you’ll definitely want to check this one out. And for fans that enjoyed Solo, this is the flashy and fun adventure you’ll want to go on next.