Darth Maul #1 provides our first real taste of the Sith lord pre-The Phantom Menace in the new world of Star Wars canon. The Clone Wars and Rebels television shows are the only other canonical tales of Darth Maul, but those all take place after Obi-Wan cuts him in half.
And Star Wars fans are always willing to be fed more Darth Maul stories after being short changed by his one and only movie appearance in 1999. With the success of Marvel’s Star Wars comics, it was only a matter of time before the Sith Lord got his own title. Unfortunately, what we get here is an uninspired, boring mess of a comic book. There is absolutely nothing here to scratch that itch the other Star Wars titles do.
Maul lives in the shadows, his master Darth Sidious needs him to keep quiet until his plan starts to unfold and the events of Episode I can begin. To pass the time, Maul stalks Jedi and murders anything he can to please his blood lust. That’s it. Nothing else happens in this comic book.
The entire issue features Darth Maul narrating his blood lust and desires in a dull Patrick Bateman ripoff. Even George Lucas understood a little bit about what makes the character interesting, and this isn’t it. Darth Maul needs to look at what worked in Kieron Gillen’s 25-issue run on Darth Vader and apply it here. It’s through his body language and expressions that his menace should be communicated, with very little actual dialogue. Instead, this Sith Lord has more in common with the unbearable Anakin Skywalker, coming across like a stubborn, whiny murderer apprentice and not the strong silent death machine he is seen as in the movie. I get that he’s supposed to be like a rabid attack dog, but giving him so much dialogue adds the wrong sort of personality.
Cullen Bunn has continuously let me down in the realm of X-Men and now he has made his disappointing mark on Star Wars as well. It must have been so hard to get through typing that opening crawl and take it seriously. This absolutely joyless and pointless journey into uncharted Maul territory was almost offensive in how unrecognizable the much celebrated character is.
Unfortunately, it’s not just the script that’s awful, the art is pretty bad, too. At first sighting of our main character, I’m immediately distracted by the amount of horns on his head — or lack of horns, given how inconstant Luke Ross’ depiction of him is. Darth Maul is a character almost completely composed by visuals and actions, the art could have saved this book. Instead, we get rushed-looking models and action sequences.
I’ve constructed more lively and believable action poses with my toys as a kid in 1999. Stilted, stale, and lifeless character designs and environments do more damage to that Star Wars feel than any prequel movie. Ross might know even less than Bunn about Star Wars given that he drew Darth Sidious as if he was already at his Return Of The Jedi age.
Every Star Wars title Marvel has released so far has been great, tapping into what fans would want out of each adventure. This misses the mark completely, putting readers through a carousel of cringing and eye-rolling. Instead of hitting the internet to complain about Marvel “forcing” diversity down your throat, why don’t you share with them how horrible this book is. This is clearly a half-ass cash grab given to someone who knew how to make a pitch but clearly can’t deliver.