Growing up, Darth Maul was far from my favorite character. Sure, the double-bladed lightsaber was (and still is) iconic. And Maul’s look is still iconic, even after being introduced to other Zabraks throughout the years. But after being chopped in half, most of us never dreamt of seeing him again.
Years later, The Clone Wars decided to bring back the villain (and with a deep vengeance to boot). I quickly found myself intrigued by the character, namely because of the personality we saw for the first time. Maul’s menacing persona (pun intended) has been developed during both The Clone Wars and Rebels, and this week’s issue continues in the same vein.
In Darth Maul #1, we get a glimpse into the mind of the Sith Lord and the vexing relationship he has with Darth Sidious. Feeling hindered by his master’s secret (and laboriously slow) plan to destroy the Jedi, Maul grows restless and resorts to various hunts in order to relieve stress. However, as his inner monologue reveals, even after he’s had his fun, the bloodlust still remains—it never goes away.
The only solution is to hunt the Jedi themselves, Maul concludes. Since this is not allowed, he tries to curb his hunger by stalking them throughout Coruscant. Sidious, however, chides his apprentice for his impatience. If anything was to ever happen to his plans, there would be dire consequences and not at the hands of a Jedi.
Instead, Sidious has a multifaceted mission for Maul: a secret Trade Federation facility is under attack and, as we already know, the Sith Lord needs the Federation to succeed. Maul is sent to take care of the pirates, protect Sidious’s investment, and satisfy his own bloodlust in the meantime.
Maul takes care of the pirates with ease, but things change when he, mistaken for a Jedi, discovers a Jedi Padawan prisoner is being auctioned off. Believing the Jedi Order will send a rescue mission, Maul heads off to find the Padawan, hoping to finally utilize his rage. (Not before killing everyone in the facility to make sure his master never learns of his plans, of course.)
One of the difficulties, I imagine, of writing stories in this period of time is developing a character without ignoring or undoing things done later down the road. Overall, Bunn does a great job with this. Even more so, I found his ability to contrast Maul to the other characters to be effective. During the rathtar fight in the first scene, Maul admires the beasts, but recognizes they are different in the sole fact that he hunts alone. This is further contrasted when looking at the Jedi. While a Jedi Master and Padawan are likely to be found together, Maul is continually on his own. This only changes when he is being scolded or receives a new assignment.
The one concern I have is while Maul is an intriguing character, everyone else seems to remain in his shadow. With Sidious, we know what he’s planning. His threats to Maul are not surprising in light of what happens at the end of The Clone Wars and in the Son of Dathomir comics. As for the other characters, they remain in the background, fade into obscurity or die without a name. I’m hoping the Maul series allows enough room for future characters to share in the spotlight, especially with the inclusion of the Padawan prisoner.
As is the case with any episodic story, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. The main Star Wars series has reminded me, time and time again, that less is more. My hope is that the creative team behind Maul manages to wrap up the story before it feels unwelcome. For a first issue, it was an enjoyable ride. Considering the development of the character in other mediums, I’m happy we are getting more of him.
- The fact they are exploring Maul’s relationship with Sidious helps put some perspective to his continual pursuit of Ezra. It’s easy to view Maul as heartless and callous, which isn’t necessarily wrong. But he was also stripped from his home at a young age, continually spurned, and eventually betrayed by his master. Maul wants something from Ezra he was never able to have with Sidious, even when Savage was his apprentice. There is a deep sense of longing that even the dark side cannot fully extinguish. It’ll be interesting to see if this is explored more in the current series.
- We all know Maul won’t be able to keep his secret for long. My guess is Sidious finds out in issue three. Any takers?
Release date: February 1, 2017
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Luke Ross
Coloring: Nolan Woodard