In Review: Darth Maul #3

This is the Sith you've been looking for.

The covers: Five different covers to find if the Force is with you. The Regular cover is an exemplary one from Rafael Alburquerque. It features Maul with the four bounty hunters that have joined forces with him to capture Jedi Padawan Eldra Kaitis: clockwise from left to right, Aurra Sing, Darth Maul, Cad Bane, Troo-Tril-Tek, aka “Tek-Tek”, and Vorhdeilo. The two original characters in the foreground look the fiercest, and rightly so, as they’ve got much to do to try and out-cool Sing, Maul, and Bane. Excellent art with strong coloring. The first variant is a textless version of this cover, and if one is a fan of the original, one will want this as well. The David Lopez variant has the reader looking down upon Maul who’s zipping along on his speeder bike, as seen in The Phantom Menace. Maul flashes a snarl as he holds his double bladed lightsaber in his right hand. Great angle to see this character and the dust around him is great. That’s right, I’m complementing the artist’s use of dust. This is great. The Declan Shalvey variant cover is the one I used to accompany this review: a bust shot of Maul holding his lightsaber in his right hand. It’s simple and awesome. Outstanding layout and beautiful colors. The Jorge Molina variant is just too dark to see what’s going on. Maul’s holding his lightsaber with both hands in the traditional manner of a saber wielder. Brighter colors would have ruined the sinister tone this is going for, but I’m really straining to pick out the details in his face. This would have looked better as a black and white illustration. Overall grades: Regular A, Textless Variant A, Lopez Variant A, Shalvey Variant A+, and Molina Variant C

The story: Maul was left last issue face-to-face with Eldra Kaitis, who’s being held behind a red energy wall. She says something snarky to him, which cause him to ignite his blade and rake it across the crimson field. He’s altered just in time by one of his probes that Xev Xrexys has arrived, accompanied by two destroyer droids. Hiding his lightsaber behind his back, he says he’s Seris Madreth, who represents the Haddrex Consortium. He sought out the Padawan to see what condition she was in before the auction. Xrexys allows him to go, with him mad dogging the Padawan as he leaves, and causing the gangster wondering if she’s done the right thing. Back aboard the bounty hunter’s ship, FE-3B, still being tortured by Tek-Tek, states “Based on the funds we have on board…and compared to approximations of the funds the other bidders will have available…The probability of our placing the winning bid (on the Padawan) is barely worth mentioning.” This causes Maul to snarl. The gang has a backup plan, so they go into action. My hat’s off to writer Cullen Bunn for coming up with a creative way to acquire Kaitis; I did not see that coming. Pages 6 – 9 show Maul in a different light and it’s a welcome one. The highlight of the book is the conversation that occurs on 15 – 17. Both characters show a lot of strength; I expected one to be the heavy, but the other was a refreshing surprise. The top of the final page has an excellent surprise, with the final panel on the same page setting up a great premise for next issue. There are several good turns in this issue, leaving me really looking forward to next month. Overall grade: A

The art: Luke Ross’s Darth Maul is very cinematic. He often moves in tight to Maul to emphasize his eyes and teeth, and in doing so captures the absolute terror that Ray Park’s visage did in the film. The first panel is a sensational introduction to the character with his penetrating eyes staring out at the reader. It’s beautiful and terrifying right out of the gate. Kaitis looks great behind the force field, initially strong, but then full of fear when he takes out his saber. I love the slick layout of the panel on the second page, so that Xrexus is clearly identified, as well as her bodyguards, but also so that Maul is hiding his weapon behind his back. Look at that absolutely wicked close up of Maul in the second panel on that page — it bores through you! The three panels at the bottom of 3 is excellent: the first panel just oozes death, the second fear, and the final one concern. Perfection. The turn of a page shows a fully rendered hanger bay featuring the villains’ ship, a huge bay, and plenty of characters populating it. The close up of Sing on 5 is great — she’s beautiful, but with an edge. Maul’s movement on 6 – 9 is cool, with him absolutely indifferent to the proceedings because he already knows the outcome. The close up of his and Bane’s teeth on 12 is like death smiling. The final panel on that page is flat out awesome. The conversation on 15 – 17 is great; it could have been a talking heads sequence, but Ross moves the point of view about so well it’s riveting. Being a Star Wars fan since its creation, I recognized what the smaller panels were on 19 before they were identified, and that was such a cool tip of the hat to long time fans. Even though the result atop 20 was stated on the previous page, it still has a great impact, because this couldn’t possibly be happening. The final panel is a great character defining image, with the background image being deliciously dark. These visuals win in every possible way. Overall grade: A

The colors: Darth Maul is a character best suited for the shadows, and he starts there in the beginning of this book, but the story dictates he really move about in the light, and colorist Nolan Woodward does a sensational job on him throughout this issue. Every close up brought his hate brightly before the reader. The shield that Kaitis is behind is good, with several different shades giving her some solid depth. The coloring on Xev is also well done, especially in her final panel on Page 3. I like how the bright colors disappear when the bounty hunters become the focus, as if there is no light in their lives. The fight scenes have the backgrounds go bright in orange and mustard, giving the battle some extra punch. My favorite colors are in the final panel on 16 — that coloring is just beautiful. The final panel has the scene really go dark — as if bounty hunters don’t suck the light out of a panel, this one really goes dark! Excellence. Overall grade: A

The letters: Dialogue and narration (the same font), probe droid speech, FE dialogue, and yells are created by VC’s Joe Caramagna. The narration is differed from the dialogue by the color of the box containing it, which is a disappointment. The probe droid speech is terrific, though, because it’s completely unreadable, but what Caramagna has done is make it look completely appropriate. I do wish there had been some sounds during the fight scene, as they would have increased the action, but their absence wasn’t the letterer’s decision. Overall grade: B

The final line: Twists and turns in the story that mirror this Sith’s dark soul. The visuals are equally strong, with vivid characters in outstanding settings. This is the Sith you’ve been looking for. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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