Lando Calrissian is one of Star Wars’s biggest cult favorite characters, but until now, we haven’t seen his history before Cloud City. Now, Charles Soule is taking Lando on a mission to steal a “cool, unique” ship in an Ocean’s Eleven-style heist.
Although he’s already without the Millennium Falcon when Lando begins, he’s still the smoothest operator in the galaxy, putting together a team of experts, including his longtime partner in crime Lobot, to pull off the perfect crime.
Newsarama spoke with Soule ahead of Lando’s July 8 release exploring the writer’s excitement at adding to Star Wars canon, why artist Alex Maleev is the perfect collaborator for this story, and why Lando is the coolest Star Wars character.
Newsarama: Charles, Lando Calrissian is a fan favorite character whose backstory hasn’t really been explored in current canon. How much freedom were you given to work with him?
Charles Soule: Quite a bit, really. I had a time period to work with, and of course Lando's portrayals in the films were the guiding light, but I was asked to make the best story I could using the fabulous Mr. Calrissian. That said, everything was run by Lucasfilm, with an eye towards making sure everything connected back to the larger tapestry - not just in the comics but across the Star Wars line (movies, TV, novels, etc.) I never felt restricted, though.
Nrama: What’s the defining moment from the films that really informs the way you write Lando?
Soule: I think it's his introduction in Cloud City - the first time we see him, really. The way he's all smiles, but we know Han and Chewie don't trust him... the beat with Lobot telling the guards to head back inside once it's clear that Lando's decided to treat them like old pals as opposed to people to be shot (which wasn't obvious, even for Lobot, even until that moment...) just stuff like that. We learn everything we need to know about him from just that scene. Masterful work from all involved.
Nrama: Your Lando series takes place prior to his involvement in Cloud City. Where is Lando when the series starts?
Soule: Lando is out in the galaxy, trying to make his way. He no longer has the Millennium Falcon.
Nrama: We know Lando is teaming up with Lobot to pull off a major Oceans Eleven style heist. Who are their partners in crime?
Soule: It's a group of several specialists in various fields who should be able to help him accomplish the mission. I love heist movies - the trope really works for me, especially when things go off the rails and everyone has to try to salvage something from the disaster. I don't want to say too much about the rest of the team, but we have an antiquities expert and two enforcers, all of whom are pretty damn cool.
Nrama: What exactly is Lando trying to steal in this great caper?
Soule: A ship. A very cool, unique ship. More than that... you'll find out soon!
Nrama: Is Lando already the scoundrel with a heart of gold we see in The Empire Strikes Back, or is this Lando more of a criminal?
Soule: Lando certainly likes to think he has a heart of gold, but honestly he's not even sure how many people he's double-crossed or let down. It always seems like a good idea at the time, like he doesn't have a choice... but the other folks don't tend to agree.
Nrama: In this series, Lando has already lost the Millennium Falcon, and he’s yet to make it to Cloud City. What’s his ride in this series?
Soule: Oh, man... now you're getting into spoiler stuff. I will say that a familiar ship from the films makes an appearance - not the Falcon. I wasn't sure if I'd be allowed to use it, so I was really pleased when I got the greenlight. It's one of my favorites, and it barely had any screen time in the movies. So, I'm doing my little bit to address that lack.
Nrama: Alex Maleev is known for his somewhat gritty, realistic style. How does that suit the lived-in aesthetic of the Star Wars universe, and the heist at the heart of your story?
Soule: I think you nailed it. Alex is a fantastic collaborator - we've gotten to chat a fair amount over the course of the project, and I really just like the guy. His work has a tension to it - it's real, but unreal, and I think that's what Star Wars also brought to the fore. A familiar world done in an unfamiliar way. He's also really good at drawing Billy Dee Williams, which doesn't hurt. Alex is great.
Nrama: Did you seek out Alex as a creative partner for Lando, or did Marvel put you two together?
Soule: Marvel put us together, and I'm really glad they did. I'd known Alex's work for years and years, from Alias and Daredevil, among other books, and he's brilliant. One of the best things about getting to work on high-profile stories is the artists I get to collaborate with, and Alex is no exception.
Nrama: You’ve said before that Lando is the coolest character in Star Wars. Why is he so cool?
Soule: He's a charmer! He's a rogue - he's untrustworthy, but he's also fiercely loyal. He's a mess of contradictions, and he's smooth as all get out. Of all the guys in the whole Star Wars saga, he's the one you most want to have a beer with (I mean, Han Solo's up there too, but when you drink with him he tends to shoot you before you have a chance to enjoy it).
Nrama: What is it like adding to the new canon of the Star Wars universe?
Soule: My eight-year-old self is over the moon, believe me. Still sort of hard to believe.
Nrama: Bottom line, what can readers expect from Lando?
Soule: The story's a ton of fun - it's the Lando you know, but fleshed out, deeper. Great action, great twists, and it's funny. I get this question a lot for different books, and I always like to answer it the same way: It's everything you want, and nothing you don't.