Comic Crazy: REVIEWING Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir

I'm finally reviewing something after a long time of...not reviewing much of anything....

So here is a Star Wars Saturday post!!!

At the beginning of 2016, I started reading Star Wars novels regularly. I began with what is now known as the Legends series. I had read at least one novel previously in this list, but only for fun (Death Troopers). Just before I started reading them, I saw Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens and I realized that the timeline was not as straightforward as I may have believed when I was younger. What happened was actually a big deal to long time fans (which I can't say I really was at the time that it was all happening). Things that had happened were said to potentially NOT have happened within the universe and only select things were "Canon", which means that some things were officially confirmed to have happened and be within the timeline. Star Wars novels and TV shows were divided into Canon and Legends, particularly since new stories were being developed and released that directly interfered with previous canon (ex: Luke Skywalker used to be married and Leia and Han had different children than the son they currently have).

I found out about all of this and began with the Legends series, then as my interest began to be piqued by Rogue One I found myself wanting to actually read everything Canon. So I found a reading guide for both and here we are now.

One of the things that remained Canon was The Clone Wars, an animated show that ran from 2008-2013. I grew up without cable television, so I never had the opportunity to watch it. Enter my boyfriend and his Star Wars fascination, particularly with clones and you've got the recipe that led to me binge watching the show in its entirety within about a year's time (yes, bingeing for me takes longer than a couple weeks sometimes and I still count it as a binge since I focus on the one show alone as best I can).

Upon the conclusion of the show I was hooked and wanting more. On the Star Wars official website I ended up finding interviews with the writers and directors about where the show was headed, as well as incomplete story reels that could be watched despite them not being fully animated. Additionally, I discovered that some of the scripts for the show had been turned into other media (a novel and a comic), which brings us to today's post.

Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir 

Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Author: Jeremy Barlow
Illustrative Team: Juan Frigeri, Mauro Vargas, Wes Dzioba, Michael Heisler, Chris Scalf 
Published: 2014
Collects Star Wars: Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir #1-4 and Star Wars Tales #7-9


Synopsis

21532254Getting 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 Hutts, Black Sun, the Mandalorians, and the fearsome Nightbrothers - Maul wages war against Darth Sidious and his generals, Count Dooku and General Grievous!

Adapted from unproduced screenplays for Season 6 of The Clone Wars television show, this is the final chapter planned for Darth Maul' saga.


As the synopsis states, this comic was developed based on a script for an episode of The Clone Wars that was planned but never produced. I have no idea why, and have never been able to explain it, but Darth Maul has been one of my favorite Star Wars characters. I watched Episode I frequently as a kid and greatly enjoyed it. As a kid I didn't pay much attention to the political parts of the story, I just liked the grand settings, the exotic aliens, and the absolute beauty that is John Williams' score (Duel of the Fates = #1 for me). I was enthralled by the double blade that Maul wielded and even though he isn't a very developed character within the films, he was definitely intimidating and the lack of story about him made him all that much more interesting to me. He was just a scary looking dude with a lightsaber unlike any I had ever seen before and that was enough to convince me that he was pretty awesome. 

This extends so far as to become the basis for gifts over the last couple years including this mini plush:






















This Lego set of the scene where my favorite Star Wars instrumental track occurs in the movie...set up exactly like how it is for Qui-Gonn's ultimate end, with Obi-Wan blocked by the red laser wall and everything. Also the very detailed Lego minifigure of Maul that was included in the set: 






















(all gifts from my boyfriend, for separate occasions)

Fast forward to 2016, when I become aware of Disney XD's newest animated Star Wars show, Rebels. I was watching it with my sister and at some point we notice that Darth Maul is in it. I'm insanely confused, because all I had known was that he was cut in half in Episode I, never to return again. At this point I found out about The Clone Wars show being Canon and sharing a continuity with Rebels. So I backtracked. 

Darth Maul makes a comeback in The Clone Wars, which cleared up a lot...until I reached the end of the show and his arc was left incomplete. He had been with Lord Sidious and suddenly the show was over. Thankfully, the showrunners foresaw these issues long before I jumped in and they didn't want their work to go to waste. So that is where this comic volume comes into play. 

Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir is set after the end of Clone Wars and before the beginning of Rebels. Darth Maul is captured by Sidious, but had taken control of Death Watch, a group of Mandalorians seen as terrorists on the planet of Mandalore and created his own crime syndicate. This comic follows Maul as he tries to exact revenge on Darth Sidious for discarding him and Count Dooku as well as General Grievous for their involvement and general replacing of him at the Emperor's side. Maul comes from the planet of Dathomir, a planet known for breeding warriors and the Nightsisters (Ventress's home planet and people). He is a Zabrak, an alien species marked with tattoos of yellow or red shades mixed with black, and a ring of horns around the top of their heads. Zabrak from Dathomir are sometimes referred to as Nightbrothers. 

This was one of the best Star Wars comics I have read and one of the best storylines so far. It reads exactly like an episode of Clone Wars (which makes sense, since it was originally supposed to be one) and brought me to the point I needed to be so I can eventually get back to watching Rebels (my quest through Canon material has caused me to fall behind so no spoilers on that front please, I have to catch up). 

The art in this comic is very bright compared to the cover and is much more cartoony than the realistic cover. This to me was a plus, because that helps maintain the essence of The Clone Wars, despite this being a 2D art style whereas the show was rendered in 3D-ish CGI animation. Some of the things I enjoyed most were the art style, particularly the color vibrancy, the focus on Maul and what he had created, and the conclusion of arcs involving Mother Talzin. Additionally, the inclusion of Maul Mandalorian helmets was a huge bonus that I greatly enjoyed. I am very fond of the color schemes selected for the various Death Watch members in terms of armor and the design of the Zabrak-esque helmets. The attention to detail captures one of the things I have always enjoyed about Star Wars in general, the unique way that each alien or group reads as far as design and profile go. Star Wars is a story in a very large universe and the diversity presented and the variations on familiar designs is very entertaining to see, so I'm very appreciative of the detail present in this series. 

I am very pleased that the screenplay of the planned episode was translated into this collection of comics. It was the next best thing that could have happened since the show had to be cancelled. This is one of my favorite entries in the Star Wars Canon timeline thus far. I think this one played a lot to my personal interests and hit all the right notes for me to enjoy it enough to deem it as a 5 out of a possible 5. The art was sharp and bright, the story was well written and it was basically everything I wanted and hoped it would be.  


Thanks for reading my latest review! If this is liked, I might write more reviews for other Star Wars related materials...or I'll at least be sure to present the ones I liked the most in my reading through of both timelines, Canon and Legend. 

See you next post, and may the force be with you!  


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