REVIEW: Star Wars: Darth Maul #1 – “Hunter & Prey”

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Darth Maul #1
Main Story
Title: Darth Maul Book 1, Part 1
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Luke Ross
Colorists: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Back-Up Story
Title: Probe Droid Problem
Writer: Chris Eliopoulos
Artist: Jordie Bellaire
Cover By: Rod Reis
Release Date: 02/01/17
Rating: Rated T+
Price: $3.99

 

Ok before I start I am going to address the Sith in the room; The Star Wars Prequels are not the best in the Franchise, on that most Star Wars Fans can agree on. With that said though most Star Wars fans would also agree that Darth Maul was the highlight of them. He was so liked that they actually resurrected him for the Clone Wars Animated Series. He came on the scene with one of the coolest Lightsabers at the time, and had an insanely awesome look. He also gave us one of the most intense awesome lightsaber battles to date. So when Marvel announced a mini with him, I had to jump on board and check it out.  

Plot:

Darth Maul has been bred on hate, fear and anger… steeped in the ways of darkness… and trained to kill as all Sith are. He is Darth Sidious’ apprentice and has been cloaked in the shadows, but his hunger for revenge grows. Darth Sidious has his secrets and interests, but so does Darth Maul as he prepares for his first encounter with the Jedi.

Story:  I thought the beginning of this issue was pretty good. The story takes place before the events of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. We are thrust into the story with Darth Maul having this hunger in him. We see that he isn’t like Darth Sidious, or even the yet to come Darth Vader. Darth Maul is a different animal, and I say animal specifically because he reminds me here of a caged animal. He has this hunger for revenge and is almost pacing the floor waiting to be freed from his cage and hunt down the Jedi.

I thought this was a great build for the character and makes the title of Star Wars Episode I fit it better. Now I know why it was called the Phantom Menace in a way where it really comes to light. Darth Maul stalks the Jedi, almost toying with them. He gets close enough to them so they can sense it in the force then he disappears, very menacing.

I also enjoyed the interaction with Darth Maul and his master Darth Sidious, this is something we didn’t see much of in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Darth Sidious, you can almost feel that he knows Darth Maul will have to be replaced, because of his impatience which really makes the prequels make even more sense. Cullen Bunn really delves into the motivations of Darth Maul and takes a blunt instrument in the movies to a far more calculating and menacing threat.

The back-up story though felt like an attempt to do one of those cute Pixar shorts that tend to bring a lot of emotion with very little to no dialogue. The Probe Droid Problem doesn’t deliver that same heart. I found myself just turning the pages hoping to see something that endears me to these droids that form this friendship, and I kept coming up with nothing. This story felt like an attempt to fill an issue with more pages.

Art: The art in here was a bit of a rollercoaster ride for me. There were scenes in here where the art really made me wide-eyed and loved the attention to details, or interesting designs. But then I would turn the page and the details were loss, it almost felt like there was another artist here, or that Luke Ross was under a tight deadline. I usually enjoy his art

I think a part of this is also with the colors. Nolan Woodard does an excellent job in the first half of the book. The colors are bold and striking, they really bring the pages to life, then once we get to the Darth Sidious scene it seems to shift some. Darth Maul’s striking bold red face becomes a bit duller. I think this was supposed to convey the shadows, but the previous scene does this better. His face looks like that bold red face that is cloaked in shadows, and it adds to his intimidation factor.

The back-up story suffers from the art. One thing that really helps endear those Pixar animated shorts is the incredible art. The art here seemed very sketchy, which is weird as I usually find Jordie Bellaire’s style to be far better than that. He usually has this crisp clean bold style that always makes me take notice, but here it just felt like he was handed this last minute and was told we have to fill this issue just give us something in the next day or two. I feel that way about the back-up story as a whole.

Verdict: Overall this issue is a good issue, that really delves deeper into a character that I have always enjoyed. If you are an old fan of Star Wars, or new to the franchise I think this book will be a nice addition and add more to the Darth Maul story.

 

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