Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Luke Ross
Bred on hate, fear, and anger. Steeped in the ways of darkness…trained to kill. Darth Maul’s time as an apprentice to Darth Sidious has long been cloaked in shadows, but at last we will reveal his tale of revenge. His master tells him to embrace his anger, but to stay hidden and bide his time. Maul has waited long enough – his patience growing ever thinner. His moment to step into the light has finally come. Prepare for a tale of unbridled rage as Darth Maul readies one of his first encounters with his mortal enemy…with the Jedi.
Since his inauspicious beginning in The Phantom Menace, Darth Maul went on to become one of the best developed characters in the Star Wars galaxy. He is featured in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, comic tie-in Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir and Star Wars: Rebels and his story isn’t over yet, though the end might be on the horizon. Now, Maul is the star of the new Marvel mini-series set prior The Phantom Menace and Palpatine’s fated encounter with the young boy from Tatooine.
As the story opens we find Darth Maul on the planet Twon Kette hunting rathtars. As you can imagine, Maul is a deadly hunter, but more interesting than his hunting prowess is his inner monologue comparing himself to the beasts. Both rathtars and Maul are vicious and relentless, but unlike tentacled monsters, Maul hunts alone. And, unlike rathtars, Maul isn’t free.
What Maul really wants is to unleash his bloodlust and his hatred on the enemy he was trained to eventually face – the Jedi. But, his master, Darth Sidious, firmly holds his leash, so Maul resorts to stalking the Jedi, feeding on the anticipation.
Needless to say, Darth Sidious, the man whose name is synonymous with the long game, isn’t very happy with his apprentice and the possibility of Maul endangering his plans as he is depending on absolute secrecy. Sidious, though, has a mission for Maul that will both advance his plans and quench Maul’s bloodlust for a time. He needs to go to the Kellux system to protect a secret mining project run by their allies, the Trade Federation, from a group of pirates.
Maul easily deals with the pirates and in the process learns about a Jedi padawan captured by the criminal cartel. The padawan will soon be auctioned to the highest bidder and Maul comes up with the plan that would offer him the opportunity to match his skills with someone who matches his station on the opposite side – Jedi padawan against Sith apprentice.
Naturally, that has to remain a secret from Sidious, so Maul quickly ends the Trade Federation representatives he came to help in the first place.
It is hard to judge a mini-series based on a single issue as it is to judge a book by a single chapter. It is especially hard to judge this one. We know so much more about Maul now that it is hard to go back to a time when he was much less complicated character. He is a ball of hatred and bloodlust; he strains against and tests the limitations put on him by Sidious. And that is pretty much it. Don’t get me wrong. It is powerful being in Maul’s head, but it can hold your interest for only so long. The announcement for the mini-series promises that Maul’s journey won’t be that smooth and that, perhaps, he will experience the temptation – of the Light. But, with this being the first, the setup issue, all that is still in the future. Additionally, except a brief appearance by Sidious, all other characters are transient, mainly there to be killed by Maul. Hopefully, the young padawan will be a good counterpoint for Maul, because Maul, as he is in this time period, cannot hold the story on his shoulders alone.
The art by Luke Ross matches the raw nature of the character; I especially liked the way he uses shadows. The art is also complimented well by Nolan Woodward’s colors. Also, could this be the first in-canon depiction of a Bothan (not counting that one sketch done by Sabine)?
The issue also contains a short comic by Chris Eliopoulos and Jordie Bellaire called Probe Droid Problem. Happening during the events of The Phantom Menace on Tatooine, it is a story of a friendship between one of Maul’s probe droids and a small droid he accidentally helps. It’s cute and funny and I like these little stories that are happening parallel to galaxy changing events.
All in all, the first issue of Darth Maul is solid, but nothing to write home about. That could all change in…
THE NEXT ISSUE:
A Jedi Padawan has been captured by sinister forces…and Darth Maul is determined to find her?! This early tale of the galaxy’s deadliest Zabrak continues!