Star Wars The Clone Wars is over. It was a phenomenal piece of television but with Rebels now starting up it really is a new era for Star Wars TV. However there is still some leftover content trickling out. Earlier in the year Netflix showed us the completed half of season 6, while recently StarWars.com let us watch unfinished showreels of another story arc under their new Legacy of the Clone Wars banner. This month Dark Horse have released the collected trade of Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir, a 4 issue comic book series that adapts another story from season 6 which we didn’t get to see. With a script by Jeremy Barlow and pencils by Juan Frigeri, it’s one of the final Star Wars comics Dark Horse will ever put out, now that the comic license is over at Marvel.
The story opens with Darth Maul captured and at the mercy of Darth Sidious. This is a direct continuation of where we saw him last, recently defeated after amassing a criminal empire for himself. I’m sure you won’t be too shocked to learn Maul doesn’t spend the whole thing chained to a wall. As The Clone Wars often showed, security systems just can’t hold onto a Force user for very long. From there Maul sets out to complete his favourite activity: revenge.
Originally 4 issues, the comic adapts to the style of The Clone Wars surprisingly well. Each quarter of the story has a nice conclusion to it while leaving something left over for next time. I’m unsure how much of the dialogue was lifted from the original screenplay (by Aida Mashaka Croal) and how much is Barlow’s doing, but every character sounds just as you’d expect. I’ll be damn impressed if any of you can read this issue and not imagine the voice of every character.
Interestingly the comic doesn’t mimic the show when it comes to it’s art. A distinctly stylised appearance, The Clone Wars never tried to duplicate reality with its CG graphics. Meanwhile, Frigeri has chosen a more grounded look with some more traditionally modern day comic book art. In doing so the comic looks even better than it would have otherwise. I’ve always believed the TV show had a great look for animation but not exactly suited for the printer page. Here it looks colourful, detailed and energetic, also thanks to Wes Dzioba’s brilliant colour work. Maul himself looks grumpily menacing while the other villains appear equally dangerous. It strikes a balance right between cartoonish and realistic, it looks right for the story and more importantly it looks completely like Star Wars.
If you come to this comic expecting it to capture the exact feel of The Clone Wars, you’ll leave perfectly satisfied. It simply provides precisely what you’d want, it’s an extra episode of The Clone Wars and the next part of Maul’s story. The actual plot is perhaps a little straightforward but it’s great fun to read, even without the CG spectacle. For fans of the show this is an obvious purchase that’s worth dipping into. However, if you’re interested in Darth Maul as a concept and a character, and never really watched the show, then I have a much harder time recommending it. This feels like the middle of a story, which it would do because it essentially is. You really have to take it as part of the whole, when you do it’s an enjoyable and fitting farewell to Dark Horse’s Star Wars comics and The Clone Wars itself.