Story: Cullen Bunn
Art: Luke Ross
Colors: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
What They Say:
Bred on hate, fear, and anger…steeped in the ways of darkness…and trained to kill. Darth Maul’s time as apprentice to Darth Sidious has long been cloaked in shadows, but at last we will reveal his tale of revenge.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
One of the best things about the Star Wars universe is that with the right approach and team you can pretty much doa series for any character, ongoing or mini. There’s so much to explore even without making new direct connections that you don’t want to leave anything untapped. With this new book I went into it kind of wary as I’ve struggled with a number of Cullen Bunn’s works over the last few years with most being misses for me. With Luke Ross handling the art chores, however, it was a given that I’d dig into it. I was also wary of revisiting this character as he’s been so well explored through the Clone Wars series and in Rebels that going back to his more base self wasn’t exactly a hugely alluring thing.
Thankfully, there is some real potential with this book depending on how far these explorations go. The general idea is that with Sidious working his intricate web of plans to seize power and control the galaxy in the works, he’s having to deal with a very restless apprentice with Darth Maul that wants to kill Jedi. That is, after all, what he’s been molded and trained to do. Sadly, we know that it doesn’t work out that well for him in the long run but there’s some engaging aspects to seeing him in that prowling mood, ready to go and feeling caged. The opening aspect has a nice tie to The Force Awakens of all things as he’s on some world where he’s hunting Rathtars and it’s kind of welcome to see that blended in, though it naturally feels blunt and obvious. But it works for me because we get the internal narrative of what his tools are, fear and hate, and how those weapons allow him to succeed.
While it’s a small part of the book I do like the time on Coruscant the most, as you get the sense of the beast that wants to just cut loose but can’t, and is testing the limits of his master’s wishes. That’s something that Sidious is aware of and I love the threat he makes plain, one that you know he must be able to follow through on. I really want a series to dig into their past and training to understand how Sidious molded him. At this point, however, we mostly get Sidious sending him off on a distant mission in the Trade Federation to deal with some pirates, to allow him to cut loose, but this is just the opening to a different mission that he takes on when he hears of a captured padawan that he can take some pleasure in dealing with. Similar to the Darth Vader series, we see here that Maul has his own secrets from his master and intends to keep his agenda to himself…
There’s also a backup story by Chris Eliopoulos and Jordie Bellaire similar to the one we had with the Poe Dameron series where it’s a cute bit of fun. But it didn’t warrant the price bump for me to $4.99, which almost had me pass over this issue combined with other things that made me wary.
Star Wars: Darth Maul isn’t the series I wanted as I really want to see the molding process and dig more into Sidious’ past, but what we get here explores that time before the events of The Phantom Menace and how this “caged beast” is ready to cut loose. We saw those elements in the film and it plays well here. With the character having been really well developed through the TV material in the years since there’s a lot to like about Maul and the twisted and unpredictable path his life took – after his apparent death in the film, no less – and I’m definitely interested in seeing more of his past. I’m just hopeful it’ll reach back further to cement some other ideas. Bunn’s on the right track here and it’s just a visual delight with Luke Ross illustrating as he definitely captures the sense of power and primal elements of the character.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Marvel Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: February 1st, 2017