Thursday, 19 November 2015

The Dreams of Cody Sunn-Childe!

The first Star Wars story to properly star Lando Calrissian (the coolest and best character in all of Star Wars) has a level of complexity and philosophical sophistication absent from most Star Wars stories, using its space opera setting to allegorically dicuss the rights and wrongs of pacifism.

It also features giant monsters fighting Star Destroyers, so there is something for everybody to be found here.

Lando is in space being handsome and helping Chewbacca look for Han Solo when they get lost and crash land the Millennium Falcon on a space island near a city. Chewbacca says
to which Lando replies
What are you talking about? I thought it was a perfect landing!

Chewbacca gets attacked by "a blood-eyed beast" and Lando bravely tries to help him.
It is most likely that, given time to ponder, Lando Calrissian would not have jumped so immediately into the fray...
But it's a bit late for regrets now!

Lando is not as brave (or as handsome) as Scary Cat, but he is brave (and handsome) for a manny. The "creature" is about to beat both Chewbacca and Lando when they are rescued by a strange alien.

Lando recognises the stranger as "Cody Sunn-Childe" and thinks he is a friend, but even though he rescued them he may not be a friend really, as we can tell from Lando's sore expression at the bottom of the page when Cody grabs his arm.

Cody takes them to the city where they meet his friends and he tells them they are "in another dimension" and deduces that the Millennium Falcon took them there by mistaik.

Meanwhile in space the real baddys of the story enter. They are Captain Plikk and Lieutenent Nizzon, and their Star Destroyers have found the "rent in the very dimensional fabric" that allows them to follow the Millennium Falcon through to the other dimension.

At the city Cody tells Lando his backstory, how he was once a rebel who learned magic powers, then became a pacifist and took his followers to the other dimension where they would not have to fight any more baddys.

Lando, like Ian Chesterton with the Thals, tries to persuade Cody not to be a pacifist, but then Cody tells him his dark secret - that the beasts, like the one that attacked Lando and Chewbacca, are
...The repressed horrors of my own soul!

This story is well-placed as the first featuring Lando after The Empire Strikes Back, as it shows his character development over a few lines of dialogue with Cody:
You've got as much violence in you as any of us. Probably more.

Yes! And I strive to keep mine at bay! That is the difference between us!

No-- the difference is that you've given up while -- after years of self-serving -- I've finally found something worth fighting for.

Unknown to Cody and Lando, the baddys are about to attack the city, on a page where the panels alternate between them.

"Slow to space normal speed! We've either stumbled upon a secret rebel base or a pocket of civilization uncrushed by the Empire's heel! They must be made to fear us -- attack!

"Space normal speed" is a term that Terry Nation would be proud of.

Lando's last speech to Cody before the baddy pewpewpew guns start firing at the city are ironic:
Hmmm. I wonder how long your "truth" would hold up if the war you ran away from came knocking on your front...


Lando and Chewbacca take off in the Millennium Falcon to attack the Star Destroyers all by themselves. They are being very brave, but everyone knows they cannot win.

Cody hesitates when faced with the dilemma: to use his magic powers for violence, or to leave Lando and Chewbacca to die. Although he does not make his decision until the next page, you can see his choice already made in his eyes in the last panel.

Cody sends giant monsters to attack the Star Destroyers, but only for a moment. He calls back his monsters and says to his friends
My friends -- long have I preached about "shining examples." Today I learned that -- unless tested by adversity -- an example has no meaning. I must prove the dream of peace worth living... by dying for it.

The Star Destroyers fire all their pewpewpew guns at the city at maximum power and destroy it.

Lando is very sad, he even cries in the third panel of the last page. He and Chewbacca escape from the other dimension in the Millennium Falcon and leave the Star Destroyers behind, trapped when the "dimensional doorway" closes.

This story wouldn't work with any other Star Wars character than Lando as the main character. His backstory, as told in The Empire Strikes Back, is complex enough that he can argue with Cody Sunn-Childe and grow as a character from it. The writer cleverly allows both Lando and Cody to be vindicated in their respective philosophical positions, but it is Cody who has to die to prove his point while Lando has to live.

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