– Spoiler Review –
The Darth Maul comic closes out its run with issue #5, and as surprisingly good as the series got over its short run, plus as entertaining and exciting of a new character as Jedi Padawan Eldra became, it comes to an all too predictable, safe end that keeps it from greatness.
Maul has definitely gotten his time in the spotlight thanks to his revival in The Clone Wars and continued survival (and exciting, nuanced end) in Star Wars Rebels, so going into this series I was curious if we’d get anything new or something that could honor those extensions to his lore and I can at least say, at the very least, we got the latter. All series long Maul’s been afraid for Darth Sidious aka Palpatine to figure out he was on this quest to satiate his thirst for vengeance against the Jedi instead of waiting for Sidious’ plans to begin and he learns a valuable lesson when all is said and done: the Sith thrive on defiance so Sidious was actually happy (for the lack of better word when it comes to describing possible Sith Master feelings) Maul defied him and hunted down Eldra Kaitis. This lesson, as it were, will definitely come into play later in Maul’s life, as it makes his defiance of Sidious’ plans during his bid to control Mandalore in the Clone Wars even more natural for the character, only doing what he knows best to do as a Sith. In a way, I felt this lesson for Maul did help honor the expanded life the character has gotten, if not add anything new to it.
Likewise, most of this book we got a more bloodthirsty Maul, something that I wasn’t terribly found of because it was often one note/repetitive, and at least his interactions with Eldra help alleviate some of that, but this final issue leaned back into it. In fact, it felt like every issue we got the same platitudes from Maul about his hunger, thirst, and fear of being found out that it seemed as if you could jump into any issue of the series, even this final one, and understand enough of what was going on to enjoy these final pages (though it might entice you to go back and read it all). Nuance came mostly in the last two issues, as Maul interacted with and spent time with Eldra, who helped him see past his rage and vengeance if only for a little bit, and I wish the series had spent more time with these two. For Eldra’s death to be what satiates Maul’s Jedi hunger until the events of The Phantom Menace, I felt like it almost undercuts the “Duel of the Fates,” in the sense that Qui-Gon is now just another notch on his list of Jedi deaths at this point, instead of a shocking first one that shakes the Jedi to its core. It certainly begs the question: did no one look into Eldra’s death? Then again, considering they didn’t seem to do anything about Sifo-Dyas until something dropped in their laps, I’m not surprised the Jedi didn’t investigate Eldra’s disappearance/death a little more thoroughly.
Oh, Eldra Kaitis…gone far too quickly for your own awesome good. From the moment she was named as part of this series she was already marked for death, and had she been a less interesting and engaging character I wouldn’t have minded the predictable becoming true here, but she became so much in so little time her unfortunately unavoidable death stings a bit. There could’ve been some alternatives, like she goes off with the bounty hunters or survives but doesn’t feel like she wants to be a Jedi because of something Maul says, does, and/or makes her do, but they disappointingly went with death. That said, she gets quite the epic battle with Maul (longer than the ones some fans wanted from the Maul/Obi-Wan battle in Rebels), thankfully not going out like some punk because she damn well certainly wasn’t. You shall be missed, Eldra Kaitis.
Whether it was the enjoyable new characters like Eldra and Xex Xrexus, the fitting addition of recognizable faces like Cad Bane and Aurra Sing, or a story that became a solid, enjoyable tale, Cullen Bunn did a fine job with writing Darth Maul. I’d have been even more impressed had it not ended so unavoidably predictable, but as is this series beat my expectations, at the very least. Likewise, Luke Ross proved my misgivings from his The Force Awakens adaptation work wrong time and time again, and I came to really enjoy his art as well as the moody, dark, but vibrant colors from Nolan Woodard. Solid creative team on all fronts!
Here are a few other things:
- Xev Xrexus was a unique crime-lord in that she wasn’t a male nor young, but rather a slightly more elderly type that had a charismatic personality even from what little time she had in the series. It’s very unfortunate she had to die, though I guess it wouldn’t have been too shocking to think she might have tried to blackmail Maul considering she had an inkling he was a Sith, but one has to wonder if it was completely necessary. Her death is a little more glaring considering she was the second new, female character and both of them ended up dying.
- Cad Bane, Aurra Sing, and even Vorhdeilo (the giant mosquito-like alien) really helped to spice up this book and I’m thankful for the time we did get to spend with them here. But now I’m anxious for a series that dives into Cad and/or Aurra…or any bounty hunter for that matter. And, wish Sith Lightning down on me for saying this if you like, but I wouldn’t want it to be a Boba Fett series. Maybe a Jango one, but giving any non-Fett bounty hunter more time in the spotlight would be appreciated.
- That flashback from issue #2? Wish we had gotten a lot more of those!
All in all, Darth Maul surprised at how good it ended up becoming and fans of the character will not be disappointed in the slightest. However, the series failed to really wow at any point, making it a fine, enjoyable, but ultimately safe and not completely necessary must-read.
+ Eldra Kaitis at least doesn’t go out like a punk
+ Solid work by the creative team on all fronts
– Safe and predictable ending (possibly an unavoidable thing, but still)
– Both new female characters had to die? (possibly an avoidable thing)
Aphra (#1-6) | And the Enormous Profit (#9-13) | Remastered (#14-19) | Annual: #1
The Screaming Citadel (crossover of Doctor Aphra and Star Wars on-goings)
Black Squadron (#1-3) | Lockdown (#4-6) | The Gathering Storm (#7-13) | Legend Lost (#14 – 16) | War Stories (#17-19) | Legend Found (#20-25)
Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith
The Chosen One (#1-6) | The Dying Light (#7-10) | The Rule of Five (#11-12)
Vader (#1-6) | Shadows and Secrets (#7-12) | The Shu-Torun War (#16-19) | End of Games (#20-25) | Annual: #1
Vader Down (crossover of Star Wars and Darth Vader on-goings)
Skywalker Strikes (#1-6) | Old Ben’s Journals | Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon (#8-12) | Rebel Jail (#16-19) | The Last Flight of the Harbinger (#21-25) | Yoda’s Secret War (#26-30) | Out Among the Stars (#33-37) | Ashes of Jedha (#38-43) | Annual: #1 | #2 | #3
The Last Padawan (#1-6) | First Blood (#7-12)
Jedi of the Republic – Mace Windu (miniseries)
Captain Phasma (miniseries)
Darth Maul (miniseries)
Han Solo (miniseries)
Rogue One (adaptation)
Obi-Wan & Anakin (miniseries)
Shattered Empire (miniseries)
Princess Leia (miniseries)