Aug 14, 2018

[Comics] Star Wars: Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir Review

The premature end to the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series because of the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm and all of its related properties resulted in a lot of stories going untold. The cancellation had come while the sixth season had still been in production and thus a lot of scripts had already been plotted out but the episodes themselves had gone unproduced.

Star Wars: Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir was one of those stories that found new life beyond the show. Part of what is known as the Clone Wars: Legacy, the multimedia project that tried to salvage what it could of the unproduced stories from that final season. In this case this story arc became a comic book instead of a piece of animation.

The lost status of some of this is sort of moot now that some of the final stories will be brought to life thanks to a recent announcement by Dave Filoni. But still you have to appreciate these stories and the work that went into finding a way to get these stories out there beyond the end of the series.

Synopsis: Star Wars: Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir is a 4-issue comic book miniseries written by Jeremy Barlow with art by penciller Juan Frigeri, inker Mauro Vargas and colorist Wes Dzioba and cover artist Chris Scalf as published by Dark Horse Comics. The story is based on unproduced episodes meant for the tailend of the sixth season.

The story picks up after the events of the 16th episode of season 5 of the show that ended with Darth Sidious defeating Darth Maul and killing his brother Savage Opress. Now Maul is a prisoner of Darth Sidious and Count Dooku but the Mandalorians loyal to Maul are already trying to stage a prison escape for the former Sith apprentice.

But Darth Sidious has a different goal in mind beyond humiliating Maul. He wants to draw out Mother Talzin, leader of the Nightsisters who disappeared during the annihilation of the clans. Darth Maul's return is proof to Sidious that Talzin survived those events and thus he orchestrates things such that Talzin will have no choice but to reveal herself so that he and Dooku can get rid of her forever and remote this threat to the Sith.

What I Liked: You can tell that the script for these episodes must have been pretty well fleshed-out as the entire series really feels like it belonged right among the other episodes of the show. It answers a lot of questions left after that confrontation between Darth Sidious and Darth Maul and gave us one heck of an adventure spanning more systems than you'd think given Mauls' previous appearances. Then again, it's a lot "cheaper" to bring in more locations in a comic book than in a television series.

The returned Maul was always one of the more fascinating characters to come out of the Clone Wars series and this comic helps celebrate that to some degree but also reminds everyone why Darth Sidious was the master and he was but the apprentice. Despite Maul being at the seeming height of his power, this series is a slow fall from grace as the Sith Master's efforts eventually dismantles his little criminal empire. But all that is window dressing on top of the main story involving Mother Talzin.

What Could Have Been Better: The pacing for the comic did feel a little crazy with Maul practically leapfrogging across the galaxy in order to escape Separatist forces under orders of Darth Sidious. It's all fairly plausible of course but the fact that we don't really get to linger at any of the worlds is what adds to the somewhat "rushed" feeling of the story.

And in the end it's a bit of a tragedy that all that power he had gathered didn't really matter because the Separatists won out through sheet numbers. Sure this was their primary military doctrine throughout the Clone Wars and it was only consistent to follow that here, but it still makes for a bit of a disappointment for such a great character arc.

TL;DR: Star Wars: Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir is an amazing comic that brings to life an amazing story that we never got to see in the original cartoon series. Art is a little uneven at times but on the whole it's a beautiful book that makes the most of the comic book medium in an amazing way. Thus the comic series gets a great 5 instances of Maul throwing everything at Count Dooku and huis forces out of a possible 5.

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