The Clone Wars is one of the best animated series to have been created in the last ten years. Telling the story of the events that happened between the second and third movies of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, this series delved into all sorts of aspects and elements of the Star Wars universe as the creators explored both the heroes and the villains and everything in between as well. Say what you want about the continuity inconsistencies and the dumbing down of certain characters, but The Clone Wars really was a great show and it all ended rather abruptly when it was cancelled and all we got was a truncated sixth season. And as Dark Horse Comics prepares to bring its entire Star Wars line of comics to an end, the publisher is going out with a bang.
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir is Dark Horse’s latest Star Wars mini-series, a format of the franchise that the publisher has championed for several years now, and it tells the story of what happens when one of the most awesome villains in the entire Star Wars franchise goes up against his own mentor and master. Darth Maul versus Darth Sidious? That’s a fight for the ages. The first issue deals with what happens after that battle, which Darth Maul lost, and is about how he regains his power to get back at his former master. It is fast-paced and replete with action, but it sometimes suffers from those same things.
Yes indeed, Darth Maul is unarguably one of the greatest villains of the Star Wars franchise, surpassed only by the likes of Darth Sidious and Darth Vader, as far as the prequels are concerned. If we extend beyond that and into the rest of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, the only characters who come close to bettering Darth Maul are Sith Lords such as Darth Revan and Darth Bane and Naga Sadow. They are all pivotal characters in the Star Wars lore, villains and heroes of their own stories as they sought to bring the glory of the Dark Side to all corners of the galaxy. Maul died at the end of The Phantom Menace but we learned later on that he was brought back to life and that he went on to become a thorn in Sidious’ side. This particular first issue of this brand-new series furthers on that concept, and it does a fairly good job.
This issue also highlights some of the other major villains of the Star Wars prequel movie trilogy, villains like Darth Sidious, Count Dooku and General Grievous. These villains changed the course of history when they were in power, and we see just how they all got along with Darth Maul. Which is to say, not well at all. And this is reflected admirably in the issue when we see all of Sidious’ minions go up against Maul, harrowing him from before he is broken out of his prison to much after that. Mandalorians versus droids? Check. Darth Maul versus General Grievous? Check. Count Dooku Force Lightning the hell out of Darth Maul? Check.
This issue is built up on all the action that you can find within its pages, and as such there is often a distinct lack of character development. The characters come as they are and there is little to no change in them. They are basically flat for the entirety of the issue, and that was disappointing. I didn’t expect any radical shifts of course, but I did expect… something out of all this, and that’s not what we get here at all.
Juan Frigeri does the pencils here with Mauro Vargas doing the inks, Wes Dzioba doing the colours, Michael Heisler doing the letters and Chris Scalf doing that nice cover for the issue. The pencils felt off, certainly for the scenes with Darth Maul, and that’s largely because the character is drawn slightly different from how he has been drawn in previous iterations. And while Frigeri’s action was frenetic and detailed, his characters appeared stilted otherwise. Vargas did a fine ob with the inks, and Dzioba the same with the colours, but I couldn’t get into the art as much as I wanted to, and that was rather unfortunate.
Still, this was a good decent issue and I’m open to reading more.
More Darth Maul: Death Sentence.