Sunday, 18 October 2015

Betrayal at Bespin!

Starcat reviews Star Wars comics: The Empire Strikes Back (part five)

Look it's Lando! He clearly can't wait to be in the story as this is the "story so far" page where the text recaps the story so far but the picture shows us Lando and his friends* even though they have not been in it yet.

* One of whom is Sondergaard from Doctor Who.

Lando's first proper appearance within the story comes at the bottom of the second page after Han Solo has spent the first page giving us some of Lando's backstory.

Han waves hello to Lando but Lando is unfriendly at first, then in the next panel he reveals that he was just trolling Han and is friendly really. Given what follows, this is a clever subtle hint that Lando is a goody really.

All is not as well as it seems in Betrayal at Bespin! as we see when C3PO is lasered.

Lando has been forced to work for Darth Vader and to betray C3PO, Han, Chewbacca and Princess Leia. Han tries to shoot Darth Vader but it turns out Darth Vader is immune to pewpewpew guns and so they are captured.

Luke knows they have been captured because of the Force and he decides to go and rescue them, even though Yoda and Ben Kenobi try to persuade him not to.

Darth Vader has lied to Lando and so he begins to plot with Sondergaard how they can turn the tables on the baddys. But for now things look grim for our heroes.

As if reflecting the fact that we are now at the darkest part of the story the very artwork seems to get darker and moodier, with an increased use of shadows as backgrounds and in the faces of the characters.

Han suspects that Lando is really a baddy and they fight, but we know that Lando is just too scared to help Han against the real baddys because he is not brave like Scary Cat who, if he had been there, would have helped Han by going "RAR!" to Darth Vader and Darth Vader would have run away.

Darth Vader decides to put Han into "carbon freezing" and Lando looks very scared, a great use of a picture inset within the larger picture to give us a close-up of Lando's face.

It is as though Lando has only just realised for the first time just how much of a baddy Darth Vader is and how much SERIOUS BUSINESS the situation has become.

Han, Princess Leia and Chewbacca remain defiant in the face of Han being frozen and maybe even killed by carbon freezing. This is one of the best scenes in the film version of The Empire Strikes Back and that means it is one of the best scenes in any film evar, but here it is subtly different.

Princess Leia admits she loves Han, but Han doesn't say "I know" in response. Instead he says
I'll be back.

And he's right, Han will be back in Return of the Jedi. But this is the last we will see of him in the Star Wars comics, except for flashbacks and other stories-within-stories, until then. This is a brilliant move - there is now a Han-shaped hole in the comics, and Lando has to be the one to try and fill that hole.

C3PO wonders if Han has survived, and then we get an insight into Lando's thoughts:
And no one at the scene knows better what a big "if" that is than Lando Calrissian...
... who winces in sorrow at how far the price of success has taken him.

At the same time he is again shrouded in shadows and darkness.

The last panel of Betrayal at Bespin! shows Luke arriving to try and rescue his friends, offering some hope to the reader after the preceding few pages. But The Empire Strikes Back still has twists (and one very, very famous twist in particular) left in store for its final chapter...

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