STAR WARS: AGE OF REPUBLIC: DARTH MAUL #1 / Writer: Jody Houser / Artist: Luke Ross / Colorist: Java Tartaglia / Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham / Cover Artist: Paola Rivera / Published Dec 12th, 2018
The Age of Republic series continues, putting the focus on Darth Maul this time. Maul is a fierce warrior who got his first taste of combat against a Jedi Padawan and wants more. However, the Sith are not ready to move against the Jedi, so he must settle for underworld criminals.
This story is set in a time before the events of Episode I: The Phantom Menace before the Sith revealed themselves to the Jedi. The Sith are hiding in the shadows biding their time, waiting for their moment. Maul is a skilled fighter and powerful in the dark side of the Force, but he lacks patience. He tries to satiate his bloodlust, seeking out criminals, testing himself against them. This time, his target is a thief named Zek Peiro who is either extremely skilled or connected to the Force.
Maul’s master, Darth Sidious, does not approve of his apprentice’s excursions, afraid he will spoil the carefully laid plan. The second half of Star Wars: Age of Republic: Darth Maul #1 covers the Sith Lords traveling to the war-torn world of Malachor. Maul has a vision that reaffirms his beliefs that the Jedi are a menace to be purged from the galaxy.
Jody Houser’s story takes us into the mind and thoughts of one of Star Wars‘ darkest characters. Maul is the protagonist, but he is not a hero. We see the world through his eyes and the twisted mindset of the Sith. Force visions are never clear, and Maul’s vision of himself as a Jedi is no different. Seeing Maul as a Jedi just seems so wrong, but it’s exactly the kind of symbolism that Star Wars fans love to discuss. I would’ve liked a little bit more about what he saw, but it can be very easy to over-explain these kinds of visions.
Luke Ross’s pencils and layouts are great, especially in the action. The single panels strewn all over the page give the feel of a fast-cut action scene. I really liked the insets of Maul’s face, letting us peek under his mask in the beginning and only showing us a portion, never the full reveal. Java Tartaglia’s colors are dark and grungy with deep shadows, perfectly matching the tone of the character. When a spot of color comes up, like a lightsaber or the eerie glow of Darth Sidious’s eyes, it shines that much brighter because of the darker palette. Even with so much being in the dark, the details are not lost. Tartaglia keeps a good balance of shadow and highlight.
Star Wars: Age of Republic: Darth Maul #1 is a good follow up to the Darth Maul miniseries released in 2017. I would’ve liked a little bit more background coming into the issue and more time spent on what his vision means for the Sith. Centering the story around a villain, especially one as evil as Maul, is not easy, but the creative team explores the character without softening him or making him too sympathetic. The exploration of the dark side is a good counter to last week’s Star Wars: Age of Republic: Qui-Gon Jinn #1.
VERDICT: 4 out of 5.