Just about every Star Wars fan knows Darth Maul. Ever since his debut in The Phantom Menace, he has been the focus of countless comics, novels, and other tie-in material. His menacing appearance and combat style captured the imaginations of fans everywhere, even after he seemingly died at the end of the film. What many fans don’t know, however, is that Maul’s death was anything but. He actually returned in the TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars in 2012, hoping to seek revenge against those who wronged him—both Jedi and Sith alike. Needless to say, there was a lot of hype surrounding his return, and the episodes about him featured some of the darkest and most layered content in the entire run of The Clone Wars. With any luck, he’ll bring similar tones to Star Wars Rebels this coming season, now that he’s made his debut in the second season finale.
Here’s a quick refresher about who Darth Maul is: he was the apprentice of Darth Sidious and an enemy of the Jedi in The Phantom Menace. After getting cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi at the end of the film, Maul fell down a reactor shaft and was presumed dead, but in truth he found his way into exile in the Outer Rim. Years went by and, in his exile, he slowly went insane. His brother, Savage Opress, eventually discovered him and returned him to Mother Talzin, his biological mother and the leader of a clan of witches known as the Nightsisters, to be healed. From there, the two went on to terrorize the Outer Rim until Sidious himself intervened. On-screen, that’s where the story ended. But that was not the last we would see of Darth Maul.
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir
Darth Maul—Son of Dathomir stands out in several ways. It is the only canon Darth Maul comic (which is to say, it’s the only comic about Darth Maul that is part of the official story of Star Wars), it was the last Star Wars comic published by Dark Horse, and it was based scripts for unproduced episodes of The Clone Wars. This comic is the first entry in The Clone Wars Legacy, a multimedia project that tells the stories of The Clone Wars episodes that weren’t produced due to the show’s cancellation in 2013. Son of Dathomir continues Maul’s story after his capture by Darth Sidious as he plots with Mother Talzin to overthrow Sidious and inherent control of the galaxy. Little does Maul realize how much of his actions have been part of a larger deception.
A story like this could only have come out of The Clone Wars, exploring different sides of Maul’s character and revealing some surprising secrets about his past. As you might expect, this comic had a lot of hype over its release. Darth Maul’s return gave rise to some of the most riveting stories Star Wars has ever seen, in both cinematic and graphic form, and this story made for a fitting continuation to his journey.
But, you can’t keep an awesome Sith Lord down, so his story still didn’t end there. Maul’s reappearance in Rebels leaves a substantial gap in his story. What happened between Son of Dathomir and Star Wars Rebels? Those answers may not be far off. Dave Filoni, supervising director of The Clone Wars, has already revealed that one missing chapter: the Siege of Mandalore. This story arc was the planned Clone Wars series finale and Maul’s endgame. There are currently no known plans for its public release, but we’ll be ready whenever (and in whatever form) it comes. We’ve got plenty of reading to keep us occupied in the mean time.
In addition to this canon story, there are also several stories about Darth Maul that are part of what’s known as Star Wars Legends. These are the Expanded Universe of books, comics, and games that were written before 2014, when Lucasfilm declared that all new stories moving forward, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, would not follow the story of the Expanded Universe. So while they may not be an official part of the Star Wars Saga, they are nonetheless really cool entries into the overall lore surrounding Darth Maul during his time in the Clone Wars. Here are some of those stories:
Strange Allies (Opress Unleashed)
Strange Allies, a standalone comic by Ryder Windham, actually doesn’t include Maul at all. Most of it doesn’t even connect to the Maul/Savage episodes. It continues the story of Jedi Padawan Nuru Kungurama, main protagonist of the book series, The Clone Wars: Secret Missions, also by Windham. The reason it’s included here is because Savage Opress is the one who sets the story in motion. An excerpt of this book, titled Opress Unleashed, was published a year prior to Strange Allies, which covers the bulk of Savage’s appearances here.
In the story, set between The Clone Wars episodes “Monster” and “Witches of the Mist,” Savage is tasked by Count Dooku to dispatch a crime lord on Affa. The brutality with which he carries out this task foreshadows his role later in The Clone Wars series. On top of that, the nature of Savage’s slaughter causes the Jedi to question how much influence the Sith posses in the war.
The Sith Hunters
Taking place right on the heels of the Season 4 finale “Revenge”, The Sith Hunters sets the stage for Darth Maul’s quest for a criminal empire. Maul and his brother set out in search of wealth and criminal elements to forge a new galactic superpower. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan organizes a Jedi strike team to deal with the dark side duo. The Jedi soon discover how powerful Maul truly is, at a heavy cost (no spoilers!). This fast-paced graphic novel includes a series of flashbacks that reveal how Maul wound up in exile with his eight-legged apparatus that initially replaced the loss of his legs in The Phantom Menace. Here we get a glimpse of his dark, twisted psychology, one of the most powerful aspects of his return.
The Sith Hunters also introduced the idea of Maul flourishing in the criminal underworld, which would continue into The Clone Wars. As a Sith apprentice, he would have been trained to manipulate smaller factions and use them to build an empire. This was his first attempt, which ultimately preempted his alliance with the Death Watch in Season 5 of The Clone Wars.
Darth Maul—Death Sentence bridges the gap between The Sith Hunters and the Season 5 premiere, “Revival.” Having gained recognition in the galaxy, Darth Maul and Savage Opress find there is a bounty on their heads placed by a corrupt mining foreman. When they go to deal with him, they cross paths with another group of Jedi who almost bring Maul’s plans to ruin. But the fallen Sith cheats death yet again and returns with a vengeance.
Did I mention that Maul likes to manipulate others to achieve his goals? The extent to which it plays out here makes his future interactions with Death Watch and the Black Sun all the more sinister. Death Sentence proves once and for all that there is no measure too extreme for Maul. I’ll leave it at that, so as not to give away the rest.
These aren’t the only stories about Darth Maul out there, but they represent some of the best comics that shed new light on Darth Maul. Like The Clone Wars, they help to show that the silent Sith warrior from The Phantom Menace is actually a multi-layered character who has proven to be an integral part of the Star Wars mythology—a mythology he will continue to influence for years to come.