Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir #1-4 Review

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: February 28, 2018 (Last updated: May 2, 2018)
Star Wars - Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir - Comic - Review


Based on unproduced scripts from season 6 of the The Clone Wars, Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir is a four-issue miniseries, written by Jeremy Barlow and illustrated by Juan Frigeri, which continues the story of Maul’s revenge against Emperor Palpatine.


As one of the storylines salvaged after the cancellation of The Clone Wars, Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir feels necessary, even if, in its entirety, it’s a relatively insubstantial adventure, and ultimately succeeds in raising more questions than it answers.

But, as I said, it’s nice that unproduced scripts like this one were able to be given life somewhere in the continuity. Son of Dathomir finds Darth Maul where we left him at the end of the fifteenth episode of The Clone Wars’ fifth season, “The Lawless”, with Maul imprisoned by Darth Sidious on Stygeon Prime. When Maul escapes the prison, Sidious and Count Dooku hatch a plan to use Maul’s adorable red-and-black face as bait to draw out the incorporeal Mother Talzin. After reuniting with his underworld empire, the Shadow Collective, Maul wages war against the Separatists – which is almost exactly what they want.

One has to wonder how much was lost in collapsing a multi-episode arc into just four comic issues. Either way, Son of Dathomir suffers from it. Moving at a breakneck pace with almost nonstop action, it scarcely makes room for any character moments, or stops to explore the fascinating story elements that set up Darth Maul’s tale. Unlike Maul’s other canon miniseries, which suffered from being too reiterative and inconsequential, this one feels as though it ends right when it’s getting most interesting.

That being said, the story works on multiple levels: As a self-contained arc, but also as a continuation of threads from The Clone Wars. And not just Darth Maul’s obvious fifth-season return; also the episodes in the third and fourth seasons that dealt with Mother Talzin, the Nightsisters, and their relationship with the Separatists and the Sith.

The layered continuity gives Son of Dathomir a richer texture than Marvel’s pre-Episode I take on the character, which makes it more of a shame that there isn’t enough room to make the most of it. Writer Jeremy Barlow does well with what he has; the characters and story here are relatively strong, they’re just not given enough space to breathe and develop. Some returning faces don’t require much characterization, just consistency with their TV counterparts, but the flighty factions of the Shadow Collective – the Black Sun and the Pykes – could have used more focus to feel less whiny and disloyal.

The action, though, is top notch. The four-way punch-up that wraps up the final issue is a real joy, and Juan Frigeri’s art is consistently enjoyable. If a story is going to be this pacey and this action-packed, I’m happy that it at least looks this good.

If Son of Dathomir feels hamstrung by its format, it at the very least feels like a story worth telling, which is more than I can say for Marvel’s miniseries. (The company also took a good long time to reissue Son of Dathomir, which was originally published by Dark Horse.) The Clone Wars-era continuity is already full of great stories, but it’s important that some are properly bridged into the period of galactic history we see in, say, Rebels. Helps the canon not to feel too segmented. Son of Dathomir accomplishes that, if nothing else, but it’s also a slight and action-packed bit of storytelling that’s nice to look at and is better in this format than it would be had it been lost to the sordid history of company buyouts and TV cancellations.

Sometimes, that’s enough.

Comic Reviews, Comics