– Spoiler Review –
We have reached the end. Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir is part of the end of the Dark Horse era of Star Wars comics and this is its final issue. It’s also a look at Darth Maul’s possibly final arc from The Clone Wars and his fate, along with Mother Talzin’s, hangs in the balance as Darth Sidious descends upon his former apprentice and old confidante to settle things once and for all. It’s interesting to note that, while settling a number of hanging story threads, this series ends with almost as many questions as it had when it started. However, these questions, combined with #4 still being a great read, gives the Son of Dathomir series quite the send-off.
Maul is, thankfully, quick to call out Dooku’s self-serving switch during the Jedi raid on the Mandalorian asteroid base–in the previous issue–as being done for Sidious. But instead of typical Maul anger, he’s gleeful about the deception as he’d been planning on it all along since it plays perfectly into giving Mother Talzin a host to drain the life force from. Mother Talzin has been largely incorporeal since Grievous’ attack on Dathomir (TCW S4, Ep. 19 ‘Massacre’) and here is attempting to regain a physical form and fight off Sidious for good. Unfortunately for Dooku, who has been taking a beating these last few issues, he’s now not just a pawn in Sidious’ plan, but also Talzin’s.
Sidious arrives rather promptly, in the ship Maul was first seen in during The Phantom Menace, to confront this bump along his universe-devouring plan. He’s brought along Grievous, either as his ace in the hole or because he’s seen what part he could play in the coming battle. Needless to say, by the end of this series, Grievous’ reputation gains some of what he lost from playing the fleeing bad guy of the early episodes of TCW. Sidious’ and Grevious’ attack comes just as Mother Talzin takes over Dooku’s body and an epic four-way battle ensues.
While we’re not watching the big action lightsaber/Force battle, we learn Maul’s top Mandalorian, a lady named Kast (first time we see her without a helmet), is dealing with the flighty factions of the Shadow Collective: the Pikes and Black Sun. I’m sure had this aired on TV we would’ve seen the forces being brought to bear on the two crime syndicates, forcing them to whimper out on their overlord, but here we just get their complaining and lack of loyalty (which was always a possibility Maul didn’t seem to consider when bringing them to heel). The interactions between Kast and the crime lords are the only low point in this issue.
The four-way battle plays right into the over-confident Sidious’s hands, which I guess over-confidence won’t be his downfall until Luke shows up at his doorstep. From the moment this series started, Sidious seems fanatical about his superiority and the chance to destroy Talzin by hatching a convoluted plan: Not only does he one-up Talzin while she’s in Dooku’s body, forcing her to use the last of her strength to take corporeal form, but he brings her to a standstill in a dark magick vs Force battle. Due to the medium, this all happens rather fast, but it’s still an awesome sight to behold and I don’t think turning this arc into a novel would’ve done it justice.
Dathomir is now besieged by the Separatist, which forces Talzin’s hand in the battle. Throughout her TCW appearances she never seemed to make a lot of self-sacrificing gestures, but here she dooms herself to save Maul, forcing him to watch as Grievous walks past all the Force/dark magick battle and stabs her to death. It would seem her withered body and green smoke magick essence leaving the scene are pretty much the nail in Talzin’s coffin, meaning another great TCW character gets killed off during the war. But if Maul could come back…
Speaking of Maul, having this series end with him still being alive is pretty astonishing. What more havoc could he wreak? There’s a hint he could be involved with the upcoming Asajj Ventress novel, co-staring Quinlan Vos, if the first image from Dave Filoni’s thank you post to TCW fans is from the arc which will be adapted (as Vos and Maul are seen doing battle) UPDATE: He was not part of Dark Disciple. And with Star Wars Rebels only taking place 14 years after Ep. III, Maul could make appearances there too. However, Sidious intones that Maul’s future has been, and I quote, “erased,” but what that exactly means, and which future Sidious was trying to erase, is an open ended question. Other things we’re still left wondering about: the extent of Sidious’ time with Talzin and what, if any, type of relationship they had during that time; was Talzin really Maul’s literal mother (and a love child between Sidious and her like I theorized in the previous issue’s review)?; Is Talzin truly dead, as Maul tells us she gave some her form to resurrect Maul, thus part of her resides in him somewhat still; What role did Talzin think he’ll still play, causing her to sacrifice herself?
Here’s an extra tidbit:
- Jeremy Barlow, Son of Dathomir’s writer, has a great chat with the folks over at ForceCast.net. In it he discusses wringing his hands over fan’s fears for Maul’s life, whether or not he knows the future of Maul, and what it was like adapting TCW scripts for the comic medium.
- UPDATE #1: Having read and reviewed Dark Disciple, if Vos and Maul were to meet, as the above image suggested, it’ll be in a story from TCW we haven’t seen (in some form) just yet.
- UPDATE #2: Ever since Son of Dathomir decided to end with Darth Maul still alive, I’ve been anxious to learn when we’d see the fallen Sith Lord next. The wait is nearly over since he’ll be seen in the second half of Star Wars Rebels‘ second season, as its latest trailer suggests. We might not get an answer to what he’s been up to in the subsequent years, but it’s obvious his story is far from over. Wonder if he’ll have to face Darth Vader…imagine that, Darth Maul vs Darth Vader! Anakin would finish up the job his Master never successfully completed. How crazy would that be? Tune into Rebels to find out where Maul goes next.
- UPDATE 7/9/16: Here’s my review of the Star Wars Rebels S2 finale, where Maul makes an intriguing appearance…and it might not even be his last! This is probably the most unexpected series of events, but nothing can keep this ex-Sith Lord down. I don’t think even Vegas would touch the odds against him living even longer.
- UPDATE 4/10/17: Discover Maul’s fate when he finds himself on a crash course with…Obi-Wan Kenobi (!) in Rebels‘ third season episode, “Twin Sun.” Also, he has a new comic series out, following an adventure he goes on prior to The Phantom Menace.
While the action and character moments leave a satisfying feeling to Son of Dathomir #4, all the new questions posed by its intriguing ending make it feel somewhat unsatisfying. But we got an end to Talzin, Maul’s powerbase was destroyed and pushed out of Sidious’ way, and Dooku continues to miss the hints about how expendable he is his master’s grand plan. And leaving Darth Maul alive, with at least a faction of Mandalorian’s under his power still, opens up a whole world of possible stories.
+ Fantastic art
+ Sidious kicking butt
+ Surprisingly keeping Maul alive
– Even more questions than before
– Back to where we started
Darth Maul (mini-series)
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