“The war you have waited your entire lives to fight is upon us, my brothers! Victory or death!” – Darth Maul
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir is a four-issue comic book series that was released over the course of four months in 2014. In October of the same year, all four issues were released together in a trade paperback collection.
Son of Dathomir was written by Jeremy Barlow, and is an adaptation of unfinished episodes of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series. Had the show not been cancelled after Disney bought Lucasfilm, Son of Dathomir would have been released as episodes of the TV series instead.
Son of Dathomir has the unique distinction of being the first story ever released in the new Star Wars canon, being released shortly after the announcement was made that all existing Expanded Universe stories were no longer considered canon by Lucasfilm. If for no other reason, that makes this story an interesting piece of Star Wars history.
This story takes place where Darth Maul’s story left off in The Clone Wars. If you haven’t seen the Darth Maul Clone Wars episodes, then I recommend watching those (specifically the four episodes in season 5 that Maul appears in) before looking into Son of Dathomir, as it is a direct continuation of Maul’s story in The Clone Wars.
For those looking for a refresher, here’s a quick summary of what happened to Maul leading up to Son of Dathomir:
After being cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi on Naboo, Darth Maul fell into a garbage chute and was dumped on the junkyard planet Lotho Minor. Maul managed to keep himself alive through the Force by focusing on his hatred of Kenobi. He created a spider-like makeshift lower body for himself that was held together by the Force.
In his exile on Lotho Minor, Maul slipped into madness over the course of the next ten years, tormented by the reality that he was a broken man (quite literally) and a failure as a Sith Lord. Alone with nothing but his thoughts, his extreme hatred for Kenobi continued to grow, and his head was filled with thoughts of revenge as he became more and more unstable.
During the Clone Wars, Maul was found by his brother, Savage Opress. Maul went with Opress to Dathomir, their home planet, to see Mother Talzin, a Nightsister witch who practiced dark magic using the Force. Talzin healed Maul’s deranged mind and built him a new pair of mechanical legs.
Maul set off to get his revenge on Kenobi, hellbent on torturing and murdering the Jedi Knight. After a few unsuccessful attempts at killing Kenobi, Maul decided to build up an alliance of many of the major underground crime organizations in the galaxy. His new alliance was called the Shadow Collective, and it included the Mandalorian Death Watch, the Pyke Syndicate, the Black Sun, the Hutts, and eventually the Dathomirian Nightbrothers.
With Maul amassing so much power, he caught the attention of Darth Sidious, who had previously been unaware that his former apprentice survived after his defeat on Naboo. Sidious eventually confronted Maul, killed Savage Opress, and defeated (but not killed) Maul in a duel, telling Maul that he was not done with him yet.
That’s where Darth Maul’s story ended in The Clone Wars, and Son of Dathomir picks up shortly after those events.
Upon opening the comic we find that Darth Sidious has locked Darth Maul away in a secret high-security prison on the planet Stygeon. Darth Sidious tells Count Dooku of his plan to use Darth Maul as bait to draw out Mother Talzin–who is revealed to be Darth Maul’s mother–from hiding so that he can destroy her. The members of Maul’s Shadow Collective remain loyal to him, and Mandalorians from Death Watch come and break Maul out of the prison.
Maul and Death Watch go into hiding at one of their secret basis on the planet Zanbar, but thanks to a tip from Darth Sidious they are discovered by General Grievous and a battalion of battle droids. What follows for the rest of the story is basically an all out war between the Shadow Collective and Darth Sidious’ droid armies, as Sidious tries to find and destroy both Darth Maul and Mother Talzin.
The Jedi do get involved a little bit. One thing I liked about this story was that with the reappearance of Darth Maul, the Jedi are more confused than ever as to who the mysterious Sith Lord they are looking for is. Now that Maul has shown up, the Jedi begin to think that Count Dooku may have been the Sith Master all along, with Darth Maul as his apprentice. It works as a valid reason behind the Jedi’s continued confusion about the Sith Lord, and makes the Jedi’s relative lack of suspicion of Chancellor Palpatine feel more justified.
The series is short but an entertaining read. Though initially I was hugely against the idea of bringing Darth Maul back from the dead in The Clone Wars, the Darth Maul episodes ended up being some of the very best episodes of the entire series. I was glad to see that story continued in some form even after the show was cancelled.
Sadly there was no satisfying conclusion to Darth Maul’s story on the TV show, and I had hoped to find one in this comic. There isn’t one. Though it leaves open the possibility for more Darth Maul stories in the future, which could be a good thing. However, they should not leave his story open-ended forever, because it just feels wrong knowing that there is even a slight possibility that Maul could still be alive during the time of the Original Trilogy, or even (though he’d be a very, very old man by then) during The Force Awakens. I would like to see a definite conclusion to Darth Maul’s story sooner rather than later. (It looks like we might actually be getting one very soon. We’ll see!)
That aside, this was a fun little story to read. Darth Maul is one of my favorite villains, and because of The Clone Wars I like him even more now than I used to. Son of Dathomir continues Maul’s Clone Wars story in a way that will be entertaining for anybody who enjoyed his appearances on the TV show. The story is not a very important one, but it does close up a few loose ends that The Clone Wars left open.
For fans of Darth Maul and fans of The Clone Wars I would definitely recommend picking this up. If you don’t care much about Maul or seeing continued stories from The Clone Wars, this story is very skippable. At the very least, the first official entry into the new Star Wars canon turned out to be an enjoyable read. Not brilliant, but good. I for one am glad I took the time to read it.