STAR WARS: DARTH MAUL #2
Writers: Cullen Bunn
Penciller: Luke Ross
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release Date: 3/22/17
His master Darth Sidious has cautioned him toavoid Jedi at all costs, but the young Darth Maul is hungry for vengeance. In his rashness, he sets out to find a Jedi Padawan being auctioned off by the Xrexus Cartel. However, he must be sure to work in secret lest his disobedience be discovered and punished.
Plot: Star Wars: Darth Maul #2 opens on the mysterious Nar Shaddaa begins at Aneka’s jail cell once more, with Darth Maul himself entering the Smugler’s Moon to learn the whereabouts of the Padawan. When they are less than forthcoming, he unleashes his rage on them without a second thought.
Or rather, he does spare a few thoughts after for how his master would react upon learning of his actions. His reticence to reveal his identity might have cost him the battle, but he’s rescued by a trio of wise-cracking Bounty Hunters: Aurra Sing, Cad Bane and Vorhdeilo. Together they chart the course for Xev Xrexus’ auction
Story: Patience and planning are Darth Maul’s enemies in this Star Wars story, and Cullen Bunn astutely exposes the flaws in Dark Side’s reasoning throughout the issue. Exacting the perfect revenge against the Jedi requires a great deal of organization on the Sith’s part, and they must wait for the right moment to strike. And yet their training preaches fear, anger, hatred and a thirst for blood. How to reconcile both facets of this dark-sided school of thought?
One way is through a strict system of punishment, which is in fact what keeps Darth Maul from flying off the handle more than he already is. He knows that if he exposes himself as a Sith, the retribution from Sidious will be swift and painful, and so he holds back. This methods does not inspire loyalty, however. Darth Maul remains stubbornly insistent that his master’s motto “flies in the face of the very power that feeds the dark side.”
Whether he’s right or not remains to be seen, but what is clear is how well Bunn understands his main character and how easily he can convey his nuances to the reader. Unlike many Star Wars fans, I was never particularly captivated by Darth Maul on the big screen or the small one. Yet he has become fully three-dimensional and more fleshed out in two short comic issues than he was in his live-action and animated appearances.
Art: Luke Ross’s artwork is filled with strong and commanding lines that accentuate Darth Maul’s foreboding presence, and Nolan Woodward adds to that effect with his choice of a dark color palette. The only issue with this is that sometimes the art takes a turn for the too dark, and it’s hard to make out the excellently-drawn features of the characters who are now in shadow.
For the most part, though, Darth Maul conveys a great deal of tension and emotion through the art team. The panels focusing on particular aspects of the Sith’s face are an especially clever way to show his thoughts without extra dialogue, for example. And when his thoughts are needed, Joe Caramagna’s red and black lettering reek of the anger and despair of the dark side.
Verdict: While the plot started off a little slow in Star Wars: Darth Maul‘s premiere issue, the action picks up rather quickly in this one. Fans of the Star Wars world in general can’t go wrong with a compelling lead character and his strong supporting cast, even if it will take another issue or two to see the Sith particioneros plan unfold in full.
Star Rating: 4 out of 5