Darth Maul #1 (of 5) (Marvel Comics)
Of all of the Star Wars prequel characters, few hold more fans in thrall than Darth Maul. Second only to Boba Fett, there’s hardly a character with a bigger following that has had such little screen time. While there have been other books and comic series that have featured this Sith Lord, few have the kind of appeal that Marvel’s Darth Maul has. Written by Cullen Bunn and featuring art by Luke Ross, the latest addition to Marvel’s Star Wars line features all the bad guy space goodness you could ask for.
Set before the events of The Phantom Menace, Darth Maul finds the young Sith Apprentice embarking on a mission for his master, Darth Sidious (who also goes by Palpatine). After laying waste to some diplomats, Darth Maul learns of the existence of a young Padawan that’s set to be auctioned off on the black market. Looking to get a small piece of revenge against the Jedi order, Maul heads off to find the young Jedi before members of the Jedi Council do.
Darth Maul covers some ground that we’ve seen before, but it’s able to present the story in a new and unique way. Like he’s done with Magneto and Sinestro before, Cullen Bunn is able to get into the mindset of Maul and present what drives him: a nearly uncontrollable need to get revenge on the Jedi. This urge is all consuming, and you wouldn’t be out of line to think of Maul’s training as a form of brainwashing. But what makes this presentation so interesting is the fact that even Maul’s master is concerned with his apprentice’s desire to go after the Jedi. There’s an interesting scene where Sidious tells his apprentice that he is too quick in his desire to end the Jedi order, and that they cannot attack until the moment is right. These moments are where Cullen Bunn succeeds where George Lucas failed with the prequels. It presents an interesting look into the world of the Sith, and presents some cracks in the relationship between this Master and Apprentice that we never got to see in the movies.
We also never got to see Darth Maul fight a Rathtar in the movies either, but when Luke Ross is drawing that scene, it’s the next best thing. A fantastic choice for this type of book, Ross is able to give every character a look that is reminiscent of their big-screen counterpart, but not so dead on that they look too stiff or traced from photos. Ross is also able to deliver all the action you would hope from a book starring Darth Maul. From his take down of a pack of Rahtars to viciously butchering an entire crew of aliens, Ross is able to give Maul the treatment he deserves.
It’s easy to expect a lot from a comic like Darth Maul, and for the most part, it delivers. Creating a story so close to the most controversial installment of the Star Wars franchise is no easy task, but so far Bunn and Ross have created something that’s not only really cool, but sheds a little more light into one of Star Wars’ most mysterious characters. Here’s hoping that this does well enough to merit a sequel miniseries, or even a full ongoing.