Darth Sidious releases his apprentice on the galaxy in Darth Maul #1.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Darth Maul #1.
Writer: Cullen Bunn | Artist: Luke Ross | Colors: Nolan Woodard | Cover Artist: Rod Reis | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Assistant Editor: Heather Antos | Editor: Jordan D. White
A Restless Servant
While for over a thousand generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice, the Sith hid in the shadows. They bid their time until the day they could reveal themselves to the Jedi. Until the day they could have revenge. Not all Sith were patient. Darth Maul chafes under Darth Sidious’s guidance. While Sidious plots his revenge against the Jedi and his conquest of the galaxy, Maul trains. However, his training proves unsatisfactory. He longs for a worthy opponent. The Jedi. Despite his restlessness, Sidious prohibits contact with the guardians and enforces of peace in the Republic. His plans are not ready. Any such contact risks all that Sidious has planned. This is the setting of Darth Maul #1.
Rathtars Are Not Enough
There is a wonderful The Force Awakens connection in Darth Maul #1. This issue begins with Maul hunting a rathtar, the infamous monsters Han Solo hauled on the Eravana. To be more precise, Maul watches as a rathtar decimates a hunting party. Then he dispatches the beast himself. However, the rathtars soon remind him they hunt in packs. Even then, the beasts prove no match for Maul.
After his rathtar hunt, Maul returns to Coruscant. He can’t help himself. From the shadows, he locates and observes Jedi. He longs to pit himself against them. Maul is reckless, and he nearly exposes his presence. Although Maul eludes them, the Jedi sense his darkness.
Maul’s antics displease Darth Sidious. The Sith Master admonishes his student. Although Maul may be ready to face the Jedi, Sidious is not. His plans are not set and not ready. Therefore, Sidious threatens Maul, if he continues to risk this exposure, it may not be the Jedi that dispose of him.
This scene foreshadows Maul’s future. Sidious utilizes Maul as a weapon or an attack dog. He points Maul at a problem and releases him. At this stage, Maul fails to see the big picture. Ultimately, Maul falls in The Phantom Menace, and later Sidious casts Maul out again while reminding Maul he is no longer his apprentice in The Clone Wars.
The Phantom Menace Symmetry
Despite the admonition, Sidious has a mission for Maul. Sidious sends his apprentice to Kellux. There pirates attacked one of Sidious’s interests. The situation must be dealt with. Much like how Chancellor Palpatine sends Jedi Knights to Naboo in The Phantom Menace to resolve a blockade, Sidious, the Chancellor’s alter ego, sends Maul to aid his allies, the Trade Federation.
Maul arrives at Kellux and dispatches the pirates attacking the Trade Federation vessels. He then invades the Trade Federation battleship and fights the pirates inside. This scene mirrors one of the earliest scenes of The Phantom Menace. After negotiations failed onboard the Trade Federation’s battleship blockading Naboo, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan went on the offensive. Once they fought their way to the hall outside the bridge, Qui-Gon began carving away the blast doors with his lightsaber. Meanwhile, the Neimodians cowered inside and then unleashed their Droidekas.
Here, the Neimodians exhibit no fear. They are confident on their bridge even though pirates surround them. They know a powerful ally is outside the blast door. Instead of panicking, they counsel the pirates to surrender. Unlike Qui-Gon, Maul bursts through the blast doors and slaughters the pirates. Unfortunately for the Neimodians, the pirates reveal too much in their presence.
A Solution for Maul
Before Maul kills him, one of the pirates mistakes Maul for a Jedi. He then offers to barter for his life. This pirate has valuable information to exchange. Maul agrees to hear this intelligence. The pirate reveals that a Xev Xrexus, the Boss-Mistress of the Xrexus Cartel, captured a Jedi Padawan. Now, Xev Xrexus intends to auction the Padawan to the highest bidder. Maul is intrigued.
This issue does not state Maul’s intention. A Jedi Padawan might be turned to the dark side of the Force. Then Maul would have an apprentice of his own, and he could challenge Sidious. Alternatively, Maul might purchase the Padawan and then fight him. After all, he craves the challenge of a Jedi opponent. Whatever his plan is, he cannot let Sidious know about it. Therefore, when the Neimodians state they will inform Sidious. Maul responds that it was a pity that none survived the pirate attack before dispatching the Neimodians himself.
Darth Maul #1 successfully sets the table for a Sith adventure. Maul’s character is consistent with what audiences learned about him in The Phantom Menace, The Clone Wars, and Rebels. He is vicious and eager. Later in life, he learns to plan and wait. However, this younger Maul is impatient. He doesn’t make long term plans.
Although there is nothing groundbreaking in this issue, Darth Maul #1 is not filler. The issue serves as a standalone story detailing Maul’s frustration and relationship with his master. Also, it serves as the introduction to a larger story. It performs both functions well. This issue and story should please readers.
Favorite Panel for Darth Maul #1
Luke Ross created wonderful art for Darth Maul #1. For example, he brings back the Scimitar, Maul’s ship from The Phantom Menace. Although that ship was sparsely used in the movie, it’s capabilities are on full display in this issue. Ross expertly illustrated its abilities. However, despite the expanded role of the Scimitar, the favorite panel for this issue goes elsewhere. Bunn’s decision to include the rathtars was perfect. Indeed, it is a sudden nod to The Force Awakens without creating the “small galaxy” syndrome. Furthermore, the inclusion of rathtars in Darth Maul #1 makes them more terrifying in The Force Awakens. Plus, Maul succeeds where the hunters failed. That further established how proficient a warrior he was. Therefore, the favorite panel of Darth Maul #1 is one panel of Maul fighting rathtars.
Probe Droid Problem
By Chris Eliopoulos and Jorde Bellaire
Like some other series premiere issues, Darth Maul #1 includes a bonus droid tale. This story occurs outside the main story of this issue. In fact, this story has no impact on the primary plot of Darth Maul. The story begins with Maul landing the Scimitar on Tatooine during the events of The Phantom Menace. Maul only appears as a profile in one panel of this issue. Then one of his probes falls into a pit and discovers a trapped service droid.
Despite the probe droid’s attempt to leave, the service droid clamps on to it. The probe droid inadvertently pulls the service droid to safety before the probe droid itself is captured by Jawas. Never fear, the service droid repays the favor and rescues it from the Jawa sand crawler. The issue ends with the probe droid electing to stay behind with its new friend.
These droid stories are cute, but they seem more appropriate for the Sunday comics than an add-on in a Marvel comic. The events in this bonus story have no impact anywhere in the Star Wars galaxy. These droid tales are fine stories, but I’d prefer they appeared elsewhere. They don’t match the tone of the issue, but they are fun for what they are.