Star Wars: The Clone Wars shook up the universe. The animated series introduced plot points that changed and/or canonized stories from the Expanded Universe, brought in new characters, and resurrected at least one character that was thought to be dead. Yes, The Clone Wars did what seemed impossible: they brought back Darth Maul.
The notion that Maul survived his encounter with Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Phantom Menace was introduced in the third season of The Clone Wars during the “Nightsisters” arc. The witches of Dathomir got tangled up with Count Dooku and Darth Sidious thanks to Asajj Ventress, and the leader of the group, Mother Talzin, manipulated Darth Maul’s brother Savage Opress into searching for Maul. Savage found Maul in a broken and demented state. He had indeed survived his fall and manipulated objects around him with the Force to give himself mobility with weird spider legs; he lived alone for years. Savage took Maul back to Dathomir where Mother Talzin healed him and gave him cyber legs.
Maul returned to his evil ways in no time by plotting revenge against Obi-Wan and Sidious. Even though he gathered forces including the Hutts, the Black Sun, and the Pykes, none of them could help Maul stand against Sidious. Sidious doled out punishment to Maul by killing Savage. Maul’s story was left open-ended, but unfortunately, The Clone Wars was canceled. I thought we’d never learn more about what happened next, but Dark Horse Comics proved me wrong.
Dark Horse published Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir beginning in March 2014. The four part series by writer Jeremy Barlow and penciller Juan Frigeri is an adaptation of an unproduced script written for Star Wars: The Clone Wars by Aida Mashaka Croal. This is the next chapter of Maul’s story we would have seen in the series. It’s a gift. And given this precedent, I hope we see Marvel Comics create more comics based on unproduced scripts for The Clone Wars. We’ll see.
Back to Son of Dathomir, we see Maul grasp at his plans to make Obi-Wan pay and to get back at Sidious for abandoning him. He’s nothing if not persistent. We saw Maul’s intelligence on display in the cartoon, but this comic shows further proof that Maul is anything but a bumbling idiot. He may underestimate how conniving Sidious is, but to be fair, so does the rest of the galaxy. Maul has allies. He convinces people to fight for him. He has thought things through and has back-up plans, but it’s not enough. Sidious is too good.
It couldn’t have been an easy task to translate an entire television arc to the pages of four comic books, but Barlow managed. I’d love to see the original script for the sake of comparison and because hey, I’m greedy. Barlow used the material he had to create an energetic, complex, and dramatic story. Frigeri probably had to consider how much he should reference the look of The Clone Wars with his art, and though there are similarities, it’s apparent that he brought his own style to the world.
I’m enthusiastic about the majority of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. It’s my Star Wars. But, when I think about my favorite arcs and plots, the Nightsisters trilogy rises to the top. Not only because of what it did for the character of Asajj Ventress but because it introduced Mother Talzin. I liked knowing what happened to Darth Maul, but I was thrilled to see Mother Talzin in play again. I felt less happy about seeing her death (there aren’t enough female villains in the world), but there is an ending and that’s something we don’t have for several players in The Clone Wars. Sometimes I’d just rather know than imagine the possibilities.
I’ll have to keep guessing about Darth Maul though. He fails and loses his mother, but he survives. It’s apparently what he does.