Originally published by Dark Horse Comics, Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir is one of the few pre-Disney stories to remain canon. This tale is based on unproduced Star Wars: The Clone Wars scripts that were to serve as a sequel to the Season 5 arc, which after the show was cancelled, so it sadly never happened.
Getting cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi and being rejected by his former Sith master Darth Sidious isn’t going to defeat Darth Maul. In fact, it only makes him mad enough to take on the galaxy – with an army of Mandalorians! After forming the Shadow Collective – a criminal organization composed of the galaxy’s wretched hive of scum and villainy – Maul wages war against Darth Sidious and his generals, Count Dooku and General Grievous!
What’s the skinny?
This story takes place between the end of the animated television series The Clone Wars and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, picking up directly after Darth Maul’s last appearance in Clone Wars. Things weren’t looking good for Maul when we last saw him, as Darth Sidious mercilessly murdered his brother Savage Opress and then proceeded to joyously torture him with force lightning. Unfortunately things haven’t improved much for our favorite horned Sith Lord, as Maul remains in Sidious’ grasp and this time around it’s Count Dooku who’s administering the force lightning in a remote prison. Maul’s fortunes quickly change as loyal Mandalorian warriors from his criminal organization, the Shadow Collective, stage a daring prison break and rescue their leader out from under Dooku’s nose.
Having escaped his captors, Maul quickly takes back the reins of his criminal consortium with renewed rage-filled focus, steered towards his ultimate goal of dominating the galaxy. But first he’ll have to eliminate Count Dooku and General Grevious, find a way to defeat his former master Darth Sidious and resurrect his patron the Dathomir witch Mother Talzin. That’d be a tall order for anyone but Maul never falters in his determination to complete his goals and what follows is a galaxy-spanning game of cat and mouse between the agents of Sidious and Maul’s Shadow Collective.
After reeling from several near disastrous defeats at the hands of Dooku, Grevious and their nearly endless droid army, Maul gains the upper hand and lures the two Separatist leaders into a trap. Having captured the two most important leaders of the Separatist movement, Maul proceeds to taunt Sidious with his achievement, only to have Sidious snidely dismiss the setback and encourage Maul to kill Grevious and Dooku. The plot thickens further with the unexpected arrival of Republic forces lead by Jedi Masters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Tiplee. Faced with capture at the hands of the Jedi, Dooku has no choice but to accept Maul’s offer of an alliance to destroy the Jedi and unseat Darth Sidious as the reigning lord of the Sith.
Barely escaping the Jedi forces thanks to his ever loyal Mandalorians, Maul turns the tables on Dooku yet again in revealing that his plans for Dooku all along were capture and death. The prodigal son returns to his birth world of Dathomir with the intention of using Dooku to resurrect his beloved guiding spirit, Mother Talzin. But the nostalgia doesn’t end just yet for Maul, as he isn’t the only one with plans for Mother Talzin and Count Dooku.
What’s the catch?
Minor spoiler ahead
Jedi Master Tiplee’s death doesn’t feel significant and given the character’s role in the Star Wars universe, it absolutely should. Tiplee’s introduction to the story is brief and if you haven’t watched The Clone Wars, you’ll be in the dark with regards to her relationship to Obi-Wan Kenobi. I try to look at this story from the point of view of someone who may not have watched all the related content in other media and when I do, I don’t see why I’d be affected by the loss of this character.
Count Dooku has his life force drained to help resurrect Mother Talzin and we’re lead to believe this will be a fatal process. Not only is it not fatal, but the guy gets right up and starts throwing around force lightning. As we well know Darth Sidious is strong enough to take on four Jedi Masters; we don’t need any convincing that he’d require Dooku’s assistance here. Leave the Count on the ground where he belongs.
Is it good?
Knowing that this story was created from scripts for a television show, I was admittedly a bit worried about how it would translate to a comic book. While there were occasions when the dialogue felt out of place and several of the stories plot points felt incredibly spelled out for the reader, I still greatly enjoyed the experience of reading this story. It was quite simply a lot of fun to read. Within four issues you get to see Mandalorians bust Darth Maul out of prison, fights with Count Dooku and General Grevious, a criminal organization (made up of some of the most famous gangs in the Star Wars universe) in battle against the Separatist army, Jedi battling Maul who’s alongside Dooku, visit Dathomir and see Darth Sidious battle a Night-sister Witch. Yeah, it’s pretty awesome.
How amazing is Chris Scalf’s cover work? While his contribution isn’t the main show from the art department, I was still blown away by the quality of the four covers he put together for this tale. This is my first encounter with his work and I’ll definitely be looking to see what else he’s put out after I’m done here.
Truth be told Juan Frigeri’s style isn’t my favorite, but it works very well here. From start to finish Frigeri’s work is consistent and well executed. The villains all look super evil and intimidating, and some big one liners carry the appropriate level of menace. All of the fight scenes were well drawn, but I found myself often wanting more of the sequences that come with sword combat, especially lightsaber combat.
Jeremy Barlow didn’t have an easy job with converting television scripts to a comic book but he made it look pretty easy, at least from where I’m standing. I didn’t watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars for intriguing stories and rich characters — I watched it to see Jedi, Clones and Sith kick some ass during intergalactic civil war. That’s what Barlow delivered here: a group of really popular characters kicking a serious amount of ass. This book isn’t fancy — in fact, it’s pretty simple. But that’s okay. In fact, it’s great, because simple works perfect for the story being told here.