Cardplayer. Scoundrel. You'll like him. That was Han Solo's hurried precis on his old pal, Lando Calrissian. While the description is accurate, it barely scratches the surface of this complicated rogue. Calrissian is at home in the shadowy reaches of the fringe, the underworld culture that permeates the galaxy. While he has rubbed elbows with hunters, mercs, outlaws and gangsters, Lando's main difference is that his elbows were covered by some of the most expensive and fashionable clothes this side of the Core. Lando has style and class; some would say in excess. He is a man of sophisticated tastes, and settles for nothing short of the best in his surroundings, his belongings, his look, and his female companionship.
Han and Lando go way back, you'll hear them say, but it hasn't always been friendship and camaraderie. Solo and Calrissian have been rivals in the past. A bitter point of contention between the two has been the ownership of the Millennium Falcon. The deceptively dilapidated freighter once belonged to Calrissian, and much to the gambler's chagrin, he lost it to Solo in a heated game of sabacc. Though Solo insists he won fair and square, Calrissian still questions Solo's victory, if only to goad the Corellian.
Lando was the first of the two friends to go "respectable," a fate worse than death to some smugglers. He distanced himself from the life on the run, and settled down in the floating metropolis of Cloud City, on the gas planet Bespin. Lando became baron-administrator of the city and its lucrative Tibanna gas mining operation. Where once he had only looked out for himself, Lando now found himself responsible for the lives of millions of Cloud City residents. Despite himself, Lando found that he had a knack for administrative duties, and enjoyed being a businessman and community leader as much as a cardshark.
Lando's new world came crashing down around him when the Empire arrived at Cloud City. It was shortly after the Battle of Hoth when the Dark Lord, Darth Vader, and the masked bounty hunter Boba Fett came before him. They had tracked down the Falcon and its crew heading to Cloud City, and forced Calrissian to agree to turn Solo over to the Empire. In exchange, the Empire would not interfere with Cloud City, and allow it to remain an independent colony. Calrissian was torn -- was a friend's life worth more than the lives of his people?
Reluctantly, Calrissian agreed to the Empire's plan and lured Solo into a trap. Throughout the ordeal, Vader kept altering his end of the bargain, and Calrissian was powerless to stop him. The gambler learned an important lesson: never deal with a Dark Lord.
With all the cards on the table, Lando realized that he was set up to lose. Although Solo was captured, frozen in carbonite, and taken to the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt, Calrissian seized the initiative to redeem himself. He freed Solo's friends, Leia Organa and Chewbacca, and warned Cloud City's populace of the impending Imperial takeover. Calrissian, aboard the Millennium Falcon, led the escape from the city. He even helped rescue a wounded Luke Skywalker before returning the fugitive Rebels to the Alliance fleet.
Calrissian volunteered in a daring mission to rescue Solo from Jabba the Hutt's fortress on Tatooine. He concealed himself in the armor of one of Jabba's many faceless skiff guards and infiltrated the palace. Lando was in perfect position when Skywalker sprung his rescue mission over the Great Pit of Carkoon.
The skiff guards never knew they had a Rebel in their midst. Calrissian helped dispose of several of the guards protecting the prisoners, and piloted the rescue skiff that spirited away the newly liberated Solo and his friends.
During the Battle of Endor, Calrissian again proved his mettle. Now a General in the Alliance Forces, Lando volunteered to spearhead the starfighter attack on the second Death Star while Admiral Ackbar led the capital ships. His past exploits in the Battle of Tanaab helped prepare him for the coming conflict. His unorthodox strategies worked well with Ackbar's more conservative tactics. When the Death Star proved operational, Ackbar was ready to retreat. Instead, Calrissian commanded the Alliance Fleet to engage the Imperial Fleet at point-blank range, offering limited protection from the Death Star's massive superlaser weapon.
Once a Rebel strike team deactivated the Death Star's protective deflector shield, Lando led the starfighters into the station's incomplete superstructure. Lando, aboard the Falcon, flew point into the twisting narrow corridors of the Death Star's innards. Once in the massive reactor core, he loosed a volley of concussion missiles at the Death Star's exposed heart. He then outran the fantastic explosion that followed, and the Millennium Falcon emerged triumphantly from the dying Death Star.