Darth Maul #5 Review

by Dennis Keithly

Darth Maul and Eldra conclude their duel in Darth Maul #5.

This review discusses plot details for Darth Maul #5.

Darth Maul #5 Cover

Darth Maul #5

Writer: Cullen Bunn | Artist: Luke Ross | Colors: Nolan Woodard | Cover Artist: Rafael Albuquerque | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Assistant Editor: Heather Antos | Editor: Jordan D. White

Maul Finally Fights a Jedi

The Darth Maul miniseries concludes with Darth Maul #5. After kidnapping a Jedi Padawan, Darth Maul and his team of bounty hunters fight off scores of criminals hunting them down on a remote world. Once they dispose of the criminal element, Maul finally gets what he wanted: a duel with a Jedi. The Jedi Padawan, a Twi’lek named Eldra clash. While Maul and Eldra clash, Cad Bane and Maul’s other bounty hunters find transportation off the planet. In the end, despite unexpected ferocity and skill from Eldra, Maul defeats the Jedi and then returns to Xev Xrexus’s station to take care of unfinished business. Despite his best efforts to keep his mission secret, Maul receives some minor praise for his success as the issue concludes.

During Maul’s battle with Eldra, he experiences bouts of confusion and moments of epiphany. By the end of Darth Maul #5, Maul learns he has a motivation that can never be satisfied.

Darth Maul #5 - Hunters

Maul’s Conflict

Eldra surprises Maul. He began the duel believing Eldra was already defeated. However, Eldra takes the fight to him. In fact, Maul realizes she deserves his respect. If he lets his guard down for a moment, then Eldra will defeat him. Maul has this realization when Eldra scores a minor hit that destroys some of his robes. During the duel, a thought occurs to him. Eldra has potential as a Sith. However, it cannot be. If Eldra survives, then Sidious will know of Maul’s betrayal.

For one moment, Eldra appears to have won the duel. She brings down a cliff face on Maul. Then Maul turns the table and delivers a killing below when he bursts from the rubble. As Eldra dies, Maul tells her, “Make no mistake, Eldra Kathis, you are a Jedi.” It is a statement that may be taken two different ways. One the one hand, Maul admitted Eldra earned his respect. She was no mere Padawan unworthy of his notice. On the other hand, in the end, she was no Sith. There can be only two. Even though she had dark side potential, he could not train her.

Darth Maul #5 - Cade Bane

The Fate of Xev Xrexus

After Maul concludes his business on the planet, he returns to the space station in orbit. Xev yells out for her servants to refill her wine, but Maul answers her. She expected his return, but not that soon. When Maul refuses her offer of monetary compensation, she challenges his motivations. She asks if he seeks revenge for the Padawan. Maul’s internal response is that he would never seek to avenge the Jedi. However, he waits for more from her. It is not until she reveals that she knows he is a Sith that he strikes the killing blow.

This raises the question: what was he waiting for? Did he really need Xev Xrexus to admit her knowledge of the Sith? Or, perhaps, did Maul not want to admit he sought revenge for Eldra? He lamented he must kill her during the duel. He believed she could be turned to the dark side. She proved a worthy opponent, and he didn’t expect that. It was as if he needed Xev to give him another reason so that he could convince himself it wasn’t about Eldra.

The Machinations of the Sith

At the end of this issue, Darth Maul meets with Sidious on Coruscant. The Sith Mater immediately asks Maul if he is satisfied. At first, Maul is shocked because he believed he kept his mission sufficiently secret. Then Maul remarks that this must have been a test of loyalty, and a test he failed. However, Sidious’s response surprises him. Sidious remarks that the Sith were born in defiance. Therefore, Maul simply embraced the nature of their order.

That is not the end of the conversation though. Sidious repeats his question to Maul, “Are you satisfied?” After thinking about it for a moment, Maul responds, “No.” He expected fulfillment when he killed Eldra. Instead, he just feels empty. This pleases Sidious. Maul was trained to fill his emptiness by slaughtering Jedi. It creates a hunger inside him, and now he must wait to sate that hunger.

Darth Maul #5 Maul and Eldra Duel

Concluding Thoughts on Darth Maul #5

 Darth Maul #5 brings a satisfying conclusion (for the reader anyway) to the Darth Maul series. Since his introduction in The Phantom Menace, various Lucasfilm entities gradually refined Maul’s reputation from an attack dog to an introspective Sith. During The Clone Wars and Rebels television shows, Maul became more than a warrior. He proved capable of planning grand schemes much like his former master, Darth Sidious. Darth Maul establishes one of the early lessons that molded Maul.

In addition to Sith Lords, Darth Maul expertly portrayed Cad Bane, Aurra Sings, and the other bounty hunters. Bane out thinks his opponents with simple psychological tricks. In addition, they surprise Maul as well. Their dedication to making money is akin to Maul’s dedication to destroying the Jedi. Although Maul might not approve of the bounty hunter’s aims, he approves of their dedication.

Cullen Bunn and Luke Ross produced a fantastic series with Darth Maul. On its surface, Maul tracking down and fighting a Jedi seems like a typical Maul story. However, Bunn crafted a story with more nuance and meaning for the Sith apprentice. Luke Ross’s art shines. It took most of four issues before Maul employed his lightsaber, but when he did, Ross made him look menacing, capable, and deadly. Bunn and Ross’s work are welcome in the Star Wars galaxy anytime.

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