Darth Maul #1 (of 4)
[Also available in photo cover.]
Story: Ron Marz
Art: Jan Duursema
Inking: Rick Magyar
Coloring: Dave McCaig
Lettering: Steve Dutro
Cover: Drew Struzan
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (07/17/2005)
Shortly before the Battle of Naboo, Sith Lord Darth Sidious gives his apprentice a new ship, and entrusts him with the mission to kill the leader of the Black Sun crime syndicate.
This series was set up to be a big deal. With covers by legendary artist Drew Struzan, alternate photo covers, a groan-inducing "Sith Happens" ad campaign, and a story starring the fan-favorite villain from The Phantom Menace. Does it succeed? Well, it's too early to tell. This issue only sets up the action. It starts with Maul practicing his fighting skills with a quartet of droids. Then it follows up with Sidious giving his apprentice the Sith Infiltrator, the ship Maul uses later in The Phantom Menace. The mission to kill the leader of a galaxy-spanning organization, without revealing the existence of the Sith seems very ambitious, but Sidious seems confident Maul can pull it off.
This series also was written as a prequel to the 2001 novel Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter by Michael Reeves, which then leads right into the movie. The following year, the James Luceno book Cloak of Deception and its own prequel Darth Maul: Saboteur would in turn set up the events in this series, by referring to the events that lead to the blockade of Naboo. Saboteur even ends with Sidious telling Maul about his next task to infiltrate Black Sun. So basically, this series takes place between Cloak of Deception. and Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter around the same time as the Episode I Adventures from Scholastic.
There are also some hints of what's to come in the movie. If this issue is any indication, the rest of the series promises to be action-filled and low on dialogue. That's just how we love Darth Maul.
Jan Duursema, who just came off doing the "Twilight" story arc in Star Wars #19-22, is a favorite of mine from the old DC Comics Advanced Dungeons & Dragons series of the late 80's. She has the task of revealing Darth Maul's torso for the first time, and she does it extremely well. Maul's body tattoos were conceived by concept artist Iain McCaig, but seeing it done by Duursema is very cool. The likeness of the character is perfect, especially on page 2 where Maul looks exactly like Ray Parks did in the movie. The design also inspired a deluxe action figure in 2001, which also includes one of the droids from this issue.
That droid is a DZ-70 tracker droid, and was probably taken from the Essential Guide to Droids. Another one of the droids Maul pratices on is based on Raskar's sword dueling droid from the Archie Goodwin & Al Williamson strip "The Power Gem" (reprinted by Dark Horse in Classic Star Wars #11-12), and was also probably from the guide. The other two seem to be original creations.
While the artist is equally adept at depicting droids, starships and Sith, I didn't really like the likenesses of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan on page 21. They seem almost caricaturesque. But the rest of the issue and the inking and coloring more than make up for it.
It doesn't feel as big a deal as it is supposed to be, but the premise is very interesting.
Rating: 6.5 / 10