This was a fun adventure, and Darth Maul certainly makes an imposing and
impressive figure. The tale shows what a formidable opponent Maul
I was a little sceptical after the first few pages, because the comic opens
with no dialog whatsoever. This happens a lot within the book, but for
the most part, the authors are successful in telling the tale like that.
It is actually impressive the way the art can tell the story on its own in
some places. The battles are one part where dialog is not needed, though
I expect that everybody involved, except Maul himself, would say something,
make some taunts towards their opponents. This only happens between
combatants approaching equal skill, like at the end.
The art complements the rest of the story well. There are several
places where Maul simply stands still, looking pretty eerie, but fabulously
impressive. He is one of few who can take up an entire page and not make
it look like wasted space. With his mouth open in that ugly, challenging
grin, his aggressive stance, and double-bladed lightsaber lit, the authors keep
reminding us who he is.
I enjoyed the variety of aliens, the Sith infiltrator (which gets a nice
grand introduction), his speeder bike, and especially the hologram of Darth
Sidious, which was drawn terrifically. There were some moments, however,
where the art suffered a little, or failed to do its job. Some places
Darth Maul's features looked like they were rubbed out -not
intentionally. I also couldn't tell if Lex's slicer (Oolth) was dead or simply
hiding and escapes at the end. It is implied that he is killed, and only upon
closer examination could I even see a hint that he was dead. It
seems to me that he actually did escape, except that with Maul's Force
abilities, there is no way he would miss a target.
Unlike the whiny Maul we saw in Acts of War, here he is eager to get to
work without seeming like a pet who wants to prove what he can do. He
certainly takes pride in what he can do, and wants to reveal the Sith to the
Jedi, so that he can begin hunting them down. He has practiced against
probes and robots warriors, and presumably against live foes, and Sidious must
feel that he is ready to face the world. As long as nobody escapes his
clutches, and nobody comes around to investigate too closely, the plans that
Sidious has set in motion will come to fruition without hindrance.
And that is the mission Sidious has sent Maul on. He believes that
Black Sun, the vast criminal organization that was brought into the spotlight
in Shadows of the Empire, would be an impediment to his New Order once he
makes his move. But he doesn't want to destroy the organization
altogether. I am not sure that would be possible, so I am glad the
authors didn't try.
The story after that is quite simple. Maul finds out where a Vigo (lieutenant)
of Black Sun is staying, and volunteers to join the organization. When
the fools who found him lead him to the Vigo, he announces his intentions and
kills them all, leaving only one to spread the word. I rather enjoyed his
confrontation with the female Twi'lek bodyguard. Even though she never
had a chance, she put up a good fight.
The death of the Vigo prompts the head of Black Sun, Lex, to call all of
his other Vigos back to his fortress on Ralltiir. Calling his lieutenants
fools seems like a wrong move; they have to fear him, but also respect
him. I don't know what he proved by calling them all there, as he behaved exactly as he knew Maul wanted him to. Maul let
the single man live to pass on the misleading message that the Vigos were
waging a war against each other. It led to a couple of short squabbles,
but no outright confrontations between them. I suppose Lex thought his
entire army would defeat the assassin.
But Maul successfully defeats the entire legion single-handed, using his
lightsaber and the Force. He slices at people (he seems to enjoy
severing heads the most), pushes them off ledges with the Force, and chokes
people who seem to think they have the upper hand. Just imagine if the
entire legion had decided to fire their weapons all at once at him. I guess
that's too much to ask of an army of the most lethal crime syndicate in the
Lex's plan backfires, as Maul makes his way through the bodyguards, who
also seem to prefer swords to blasters, for some reason. Even the ones
who do have blasters don't shoot until Maul has finished with the guy he is
fighting at the moment. At least one leaps onto his back and shreds his
cloak. There seemed to be no damage to his back, though,
afterwards. I guess his cloak took all the damage. Wouldn't it
have been too bad if a tendon or muscle was sliced through by those powerful
claws! I liked the way Maul defeated the telepath, though: thoughts so
dark that they drove the guy to death!
When Maul breaks into the Vigos' hiding place, Lex leaves them behind to be
slaughtered. When I first saw his bodyguard, I thought she looked
formidable, and did a double-take. The artists did a great job of making her look like she
could certainly take on Maul. When she sensed Maul through the Force, I
knew she had to be a nightsister from Dathomir. The Courtship of Princess Leia
indicates that Dathomir had nightsisters a long time before Luke and Han came
there. Later, Lex confirms her origins (in case we couldn't figure it
out, but I did appreciate the confirmation). She is the only one who
even remotely poses a challenge to Darth Maul. They fight well, and she
even has a sword made of some material that is mostly impervious to a
lightsaber blade. Maybe it's an early version of a Yuuzhan Vong
amphistaff. At first, I thought it might be made of curtosis (last seen
in Acts of War), but Maul's blade stayed lit, so it couldn't. Imagine
his surprise if it had been!
The nightsister, Mighella, is overconfident, though, thinking this man
untrained in the Force. But that means she didn't trust her senses,
because she knows he is a Force user. She uses Force-lightning against
him, but he repels it! Then, when she recognizes what he must be, he
slices her in half. Lex nearly escapes, but even the battle with
Mighella didn't buy him enough time to get to his ship. That means Maul
doesn't have any trouble getting to the man, and he doesn't have to go chasing
around the galaxy. He gets to finish his mission nice and
And yet he doesn't sense Lex's intentions with the knife. It seems to
me that Maul did fail, because he allowed himself to be injured. But
since he completed the assignment successfully, I guess Sidious can make sure
the injury becomes a lesson. I wish he had stressed it more,
though. Maul should not be caught off guard. If the man had been
any luckier, he could have incapacitated the Sith Lord. Severed tendons
are not merely painful -he wouldn't be able to move his hand, even if he could
control the pain. And from my viewpoint, it looked like Maul was sliced
through the stomach muscles! I guess I was wrong!
And so begins Darth Maul's brief series of missions for Darth Sidious.
He thought it was only the beginning... It was, but for him, the end was
not too far off...
There were a few appearances that I appreciated here. One was the
disturbance Qui-Gon felt when the Sith Infiltrator left Coruscant. It is
a nice prelude to the "bad feeling" that Obi-Wan would feel on board
the Trade Federation ship in The Phantom Menace. Qui-Gon thinks the
disturbance in the Force will reveal itself in time. How right he
The other appearance I liked was the Trade Federation person who was trying
to tell the dug (another nasty one, like Sebulba) about the existence of the
Sith -just before the dug is killed by Maul! Both the Trade Federation
goon and the dug were pretty slimy, about appropriate with what we know about
them from the movie.
The story was pretty simply set up for Maul, so that he could accomplish it
fairly easily. I guess it made more sense, and better action and drama,
than showing him killing each Vigo in turn. Getting all the bodyguards
together was much more impressive. The art was really impressive where
Darth Maul and the nightsister were concerned, and was pretty good
otherwise. I liked the shadows on the cloaks people wore, especially
Maul's. Now that this mission is over, and Maul has a taste for real
killing of real foes, I wonder what his next mission will bring him...
Only the next story will tell.