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Star Wars: Darth Maul Paperback – September 19, 2017
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The artwork in this graphic novel is beautiful. I love the imagery of red and blue representing good and evil as well as the skin colors and lightsabers of Darth Maul and his jedi combatant.
I give this graphic novel a 5/5. I hope Marvel makes more comics set in this era.
This is one of those series where the artwork is far and away the biggest reason to check it out. Alex Ross is an artist whose stuff I have to confess to never having checked out, but if his work here is any indication of the type of output he usually delivers, that’s something that I’ll have to remedy fast…because seriously, this is a GREAT looking comic. Whether it’s Maul battling rathtars in the first issue, Darth Sidious mincing about, oozing evil, or even just Cad Bane and Aurra Sing chatting it up in the cockpit, there’s not a panel in this miniseries that doesn’t look gorgeous. It’s so good, in fact, that it’s hard not to wish that Ross’ art was in the service of a character that was equally as compelling. Or a story that was as interesting.
Speaking of that story…my main issue with “Darth Maul”s narrative actually, surprisingly, has nothing to do with its (in my opinion) somewhat flat protagonist, but stems more from Marvel’s overall approach to the stories it’s choosing to tell in the “Star Wars” galaxy. If there’s a word that I would use to describe “Darth Maul, “and really, Marvel’s entire “Star Wars” line right now, it’s safe. This is a series that’s safely set pre-“The Phantom Menace,” which means it’s safely out of the way of contradicting any of the big film events, while also being just safely big enough in terms of its scope and stakes to warrant its own existence in the eyes of fans who will eat up everything and anything Star Wars (i.e. me).
It’s a frustrating approach to storytelling that Marvel seems more than eager to repeat across all* of its “Star Wars” titles right now, whether it be in their main flagship “Star Wars” series, the new “Darth Vader” series, or even a series that I’m LOVING as much as “Doctor Aphra. And I’ll just say it: I’m getting tired of it. I’m tired of stories that are set in eras that we’ve been getting stories in for DECADES now. I’m itching for something new, and I’m beginning to strongly suspect that the “Golden Era” of Marvel’s Star Wars comics, if it ever does come, won’t be until after the release of Episode XI, when Disney (hopefully) opens the door to allow creators across all mediums to tell original stories within the 30-year gap between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens.” I’m ready for something new, which is why stuff like “Darth Maul”-while decent enough for what it is-will continue to feel just a tad bit stale, no matter how good the art may be.
*Of course, the one exception to this “all” point is the “Poe Dameron” series, which–while still playing it fairly safe in terms of the types of stories it chooses to tell–feels decidedly fresher and more interesting simply by virtue of the fact that it’s set in a new time frame, with new characters. That is exactly the type of "Star Wars" that I'm craving more of right now.