As much tribulation that the Marvel Universe is currently going through the Star Wars comics have been some of the best series the company has provided. So far every Star Wars comic under the Marvel banner has been good to great. Now after giving comic books to Princess Leia, Lando, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo and others it is time for Darth Maul to get his own comic book. As the best part of The Phantom Menace, Darth Maul is a character that is filled with untapped story potential, especially his pre-Episode 1 history. That is exactly what Cullen Bunn and Luke Ross are going to be highlighting with this new series. With that said let’s see if Darth Maul #1 delivers the same quality as Marvel’s best Star Wars comic books.
Writer: Cullen Bunn (Main Story); Chris Eliopoulos (Probe Droid Problem Back-Up)
Artist: Luke Ross(Main Story); Chris Eliopoulos (Probe Droid Problem Back-Up)
Colorist: Nolan Woodard (Main Story); Jordie Bellaire (Probe Droid Problem Back-Up)
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: On Planet Twon Ketee a group of mercenaries walk through a swamp area to lure out a creature they were hired to find. A Rathtar suddenly appears and proceeds to kill and eat all of the mercenaries.
Darth Maul watches all of the mercenaries be killed and thinks to himself how fear, anger and hate are the weapons of the Sith.
Darth Maul comes out of the shadows and quickly slices of the Rathtar tentacles with his axe. As he does this he thinks about how he has similar motivations to Rathtar.
Suddenly two more Rathtars appear much to Darth Maul’s pleasure. He is quick to kill both Rathtars, finding great pleasure in how this is quenching his bloodthirst.
Sometime later on Coruscant, Darth Maul watches a Jedi with her Padwan speaking with several individuals from the shadows. His lust to kill both Jedi’s increases enough that they both detect Darth Maul’s presence.
When the Jedi check on the dark presence they sensed it suddenly disappears.
With his presence now hidden, Darth Maul thinks about how he has endured torturous training to kill Jedi but he can’t do that today.
Sometime later, Darth Maul meets up with Darth Sidious, who says while he puts up with Maul’s hunts he will not yet allow Maul to interact with the Jedi. Sidious continues to say that if Maul defies him again he will kill Maul before he can meet the Jedi in person.
With that clear Sidious tells Maul of a Trade Federation request for help after several members have run into problems with pirates in the Kellux System. Sidious says he wants Maul to go there since the Trade Federations activity in the Kellux System is a secret kept from the Republic that he has an interest in. Maul heads out, assuring his master he will protect Sidious interest in the facility.
Somewhere near Kellux space pirate guards are monitoring the area around the main ship. Before they can even respond, Darth Maul enters the area with his special cloaked ship. He effortlessly destroys all the guards’ ships with proton torpedoes.
Inside the pirates main ship the Trade Federation’s leader tells the pirates about having powerful allies. The pirates don’t want to hear it since they believe they can take down their attacker.
Just as they say that Darth Maul blows the door open to the room and uses his lightsaber to kill all of the pirates. As he kills all of the pirates some of the shots he deflects also kill members of the Trade Federation.
The last pirate standing tries to buy his way out of being killed by Maul, who he thinks is a Jedi. The pirate reveals that there is a Jedi Padwan that has been captured and is being sold by Boss-Mistress of the Xrexus Cartel. This peaks Maul’s interest but the pirate does not have any more information so Maul just kills him.
The last remaining Trade Federation member thanks Maul for saving him. Maul kills him while stating that all of the Trade Federation members died before he arrived.
Maul leaves the pirate ship and decides to go after the Padwan that’s up for sale to quench his bloodlust to kill a Jedi in secret. End of issue.
The Good: Darth Maul is one of those Star Wars characters from all of the Episodes that has the most untapped potential because there are a lot of areas of his history to explore. That includes his pre-The Phantom Menace history, which is where Cullen Bunn chooses to place his story in. As Darth Maul #1 proves, this was a very good choice as we have already had the Clone Wars and Rebels cartoon series explore his origin and post-Phantom Menace history.
What makes Darth Maul #1 such an engaging read is the stuck at a crossroad vibe that Bunn gives this story. Seeing how bloodthirsty Darth Maul was leading into The Phantom Menace expands on the attitude that he showed during the movie. Bunn does a very good job in getting you inside Darth Maul’s head during this time period and you can easily imagine now what he was thinking anytime he appeared during Episode 1. Through expanding on this bloodthirst we are able to see why he showed some impatience and overconfidence when he went up against the Jedi in the movies and cartoons.
Bunn also does a good job with maintaining Darth Maul’s silent persona by implementing thought boxes to get over what he is thinking about in every situation. This approach helps to further the mysterious aura that Maul has, as he never really reveals to anyone what his plans are. That silence that Maul shows makes him come off as an even more dangerous character since no one knows when he might snap and kill everyone in the room he is in.
The scene with Darth Sidious highlights Maul’s current standing in the Sith. Though he clearly shows the skill to be Darth Sidious apprentice, Maul is still being kept back from his master. This feeling of being held back gives even more justification to why Maul shows the impatience’s that he does when it comes to the Jedi topic. At the same time, it was interesting to see that this was also the major source of conflict between Maul and Sidious since Sidious is still in the middle of setting into motion everything he has planned to do as Palpatine working in the Senate.
This all is able to set the stage for the rest of this Darth Maul series as Bunn has several things to follow-up. Because not only will it be fun to see Maul hunt down Jedi behind Sidious back, Bunn also has to work this in a way that he is not detected by either the Jedi Council and Sidious. This creates a thrilling aspect to the story as Maul has to use all the training he has had up to his point to stay in the shadows from the entire universe.
Luke Ross does a great job bringing Bunn’s Darth Maul tale to life. Ross gets across how vast the Star Wars universe is as Maul visits various planets and locations throughout the galaxy. His Darth Maul in particular captures how menacing this bloodthirsty character is. All of his action sequences, both in physical and ship-to-ship combat, gets across how Darth Maul is only looking out for himself when he is fighting. At the same time, Ross is able capture how impatient Maul is during the scenes where he is tailing the two Jedi and during the meeting with Darth Sidious.
The Bad: As much as I want to recommend everyone to pick up Darth Maul #1 it is tough to justify that recommendation with a $4.99 price point. Though the story involving Darth Maul is interesting it isn’t something that hits the value of the price point given that 10 pages of this issue are dedicated to a story non-Star Wars fans will care about. And even if you may find it enjoyable the reason we are all buying this comic is for Darth Maul and it would be better if those 10 pages were given to further flesh out the main story.
The 10 pages dedicated to the back-up involving a droid also did not engage me as a reader. As much as I appreciate what Chris Eliopoulos was trying to accomplish it is a story that should be told in two page chunks per issue. Being 10 pages only makes it so you think as a reader how long the story is and that the pages would’ve been better serve for the main story.
Overall: As a Star Wars fan Darth Maul #1 did everything it needed to do to get me back to the series for more. Cullen Bunn and Luke Ross are able to weave a tale together that captures how dangerous Darth Maul is and sets the stage for what their story for the character will be. Unfortunately the $4.99 cover price and the fact that 10 pages are dedicated to a back-up story makes it tough to recommend to any one other than hardcore Star Wars fans. Those two factors keep this series from knocking it out of the park in its first issue. But if you are a Star Wars fan, particularly a fan of Darth Maul, than this is a comic book you should consider checking out.