The War of the Bounty Hunters is nearing an end.
As we enter the final month of this massive crossover story, Star Wars #17 takes a few moments to breathe and focus on Lando Calrissian: a character the others don’t exactly trust at this point but who quickly is proving himself. This was an enjoyable issue, and it was great to get a bit more focus on Lando too.
Let’s dive into our review!
Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader engage in a dogfight in their ships above Jekara, until Luke uses the planet’s water and freezing cold air to his advantage, creating an ice wall that Vader crashes into. Vader exits his crashed ship and ignites his lightsaber, but as Luke circles around for another pass he doesn’t fire upon the Sith, telling R2-D2 that even though he’s not ready to face him, he also can’t kill him after their battle on Cloud City – knowing that they’ll meet again.
In the planet’s orbit, the Millennium Falcon sits helpless after having been hit by a reduced seismic charge from Slave 1. The Imperial shuttle carrying Han Solo is also helpless, however, and the Hutt fleet is moving in. With the Falcon disabled Luke prepares to come to rescue Solo, while meanwhile Leia Organa, Lando Calrissian, and Chewbacca get to work on the Falcon. The ship is in bad shape, and the first priority is getting the diagnostics back online so they can tell the extent of the damage. To do so is dangerous, however: it requires one of them to slip into a space that has reactor conduits periodically going through it, which would be bad news for any of them if they’re in the space at that time.
Lando volunteers to do the job, and as he’s laying in the small pathway checking the wiring, he has a conversation with L3-37, apologizing to her and explaining what he’s doing, asking if she could hold off the reactor pulse just a bit longer. Lando gets it fixed, bringing the diagnostics back online. But Darth Vader also fixed his ship and is in pursuit of Luke again, meaning that he can’t help. As Lobot and Chewbacca work on fixing the Falcon, Leia sits down with Lando and thanks him for what he did. Lando explains that he’s not a fool and won’t give himself to a losing cause, but that when it’s something – or someone – he cares about, he doesn’t care about the odds. Leia uses this to attempt to recruit him to the Rebel Alliance:
“Lando, that’s what the Rebellion is. People finding strength they never knew they had to save the things they love. That’s the Rebellion. The odds are against us. It’s the longest of long shots. Lando… it’s the biggest gamble of all time.”
This message gets through to Lando, and as the ship comes back online Lando heads to the cockpit and orders Leia to man the guns, saying that they are Han’s only hope.
I really loved this issue, and I think a main reason why is because of how it focused on Lando and gave us time to really see where he’s at. Like we’ve come to expect from these tie-in issues, there’s not a whole lot of furthering the overall story here, as the main thing that happens is that the Falcon is fixed, which sets up the climactic conclusion in War of the Bounty Hunters #5.
But the main focus of the last several issues of this Star Wars comic, Luke Skywalker, wasn’t the primary focus here. Sure, we got some great moments of him flying his X-Wing while being pursued by Darth Vader, and we got to see Luke’s skills as a pilot. I’m really enjoying seeing Luke and Vader face off in a different medium than a lightsaber battle, but there wasn’t a ton of focus on Luke in this issue. Instead, it was about what was happening aboard the Falcon, and primarily with Lando. The question this Star Wars comic is addressing is what happened to Luke Skywalker in-between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The question the War of the Bounty Hunters comic is addressing is how Boba Fett got Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt. But another question that arises is how Lando Calrissian came to formally join the Rebellion. Think about it: by the time of Return of the Jedi, just one year after his betrayal on Bespin, Lando was a general in the Alliance tasked with leading the Rebel fleet in their assault on the second Death Star. That’s an awful lot of trust for them to place in someone who just a year earlier had betrayed some of their most crucial leaders to the Empire, right? So I want to see it explored, seeing what led to General Lando Calrissian.
And this issue was a major step toward that. There were a couple of great moments with Lando, and one of them was his conversation with L3. The whole plot line of L3 getting uploaded into the Falcon in Solo was controversial, and I wished we’d have seen more of the fallout of what it meant when Lando lost the ship – because Han wasn’t just taking the Falcon but also L3, in a way. That wasn’t touched on at all in the film, but here it’s given a bit of space to breathe, with Lando apologizing and explaining what’s happened. It’s a pretty poignant moment, given only a page, but allowing Lando the chance to talk with his old friend once more:
“Okay, girl. You know me. It’s been a long time, and I know Han’s put you through a lot… but I’m back. I never meant to let you go, Elthree. Things got round me. Saw some real bad luck, and next thing I know, you’re gone. Maybe you’re mad about that. I know I’d be. But listen… I apologize. Maybe you’re thinking you can let loose that reactor buildup and fry me right here, teach me a real strong lesson. You could do that. Maybe I’d even deserve it. But I’ll tell you something. I’ve got people depending on me now. They’re trying to help people. Make things better out there. And I’m not sure if I want to do that myself, exactly… but maybe I can help them do what they need to do. I let you down. Let a lot of people down. I know that. I think… maybe… it’s time for that to stop. You want to help me do that, Elthree? Just hold off that reactor pulse… for a few more… that’s got it. Chewie! Pull me out!”
Lando’s job was a success, thanks to L3. And in the wake of it, Lando sits down to compose himself for a few moments, taking it all in – and that’s when Leia approaches him, thanking him for what he did and inviting him to join the Rebellion.
I wouldn’t say yet that this is the moment he formally joins, but it does seem that Leia got through to him, speaking his language. And it definitely shows a different side of Lando than we saw in The Empire Strikes Back (at least early on), and it shows how Leia is coming to trust him more and more as she sees that as well. Lando – and Lobot – have risked their lives to aid the Rebellion and, more specifically, to try to rescue Han Solo. That will not go unnoticed, and it’s not unnoticed by Leia here.
We know where Lando will get to, but it’s cool to see it happening here. And this is all setting up the climactic finale of this story, which has been a pretty good one. The Falcon is fixed, and the Rebels are making their run at rescuing Han Solo. It won’t work – until Return of the Jedi, that is – but I can’t wait to see how it happens.