Some Spoilers Below for Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels
I was still a wee lad when Star Wars: The Clone Wars premiered in 2008. As a 13 year old, I was the perfect age to get absolutely hooked on the show and I certainly did! I followed it loyally for the first three seasons before I fell off it and lost track of the plot. A lot of that had to do with the fact that the show pulled the plug on resurrecting Darth Maul from the Phantom Menace which at the time seemed like the dumbest fan service in the world…
Yet I was proven wrong! His appearances across Season 3, 4 and 5 proved the highlight of the entire franchise and he completely won over an entire generation with this new portrayal of the initially underdeveloped villain.
With the show’s finale last May, the show even made Darth Maul and Ahsoka the centerpiece of the story’s conclusion. Both characters were Peeled back and revealed to be lost Ronan warriors, abandoned by both the Jedi and Sith alike. There was a genuine temptation for these two characters to put aside their differences and work together.
Of course, the finale left some unanswered questions. Last we see Maul in Season 5, Darth Sidious duels him and defeats him and he disappears. Suddenly in Season 7, he’s back at Mandalore in time for the series finale without much explanation.
He also showed up in the season 2 finale of Star Wars Rebels and reappeared several times in Season 3.
That story was actually explained prior in the 2014 Dark Horse Comic miniseries Darth Mail: Son of Dathimir.
In execution, there’s not actually a lot to the story of how Maul escapes The Emperor’s clutches. Following his capture, he’s been tortured in a Separatist prison where the two Sith Lords have made it a mission to get what little information they can out of him.
Maul is a former Sith, abandoned to die following his duel with Obi-Wan over a decade prior but he’s made a name for himself in the midst of the Clone Wars. His criminal connections make him a valuable asset.
In the nick of time, several of his most trusted Mandalorian warriors arrive to blast him out of prison and whisk him away to a hidden Death Watch outpost where he can be safe for the time being.
From here on out, the graphic novel gets more interesting. Maul’s Dathomirian leader, and biological mother, Mother Talzin returns from the dead as a force specter and the two begin plotting their ultimate revenge on the Sith. The duration of the book follows a series of battles between the separatist armies and Maul’s forces building up to a final battle between the two Dathomir and the two Sith in an epic Wizard duel.
It captures the best element of Maul’s dark-side renegade reimagining by radically suggesting the same thing that the series as a whole was saying: “The Empire could have been prevented and the people that died could have been saved”.
At one point in the novel, Maul captures both General Grievous AND Count Dooku, almost singlehandedly changing the course of the war and capturing their entire military leadership. Maul came very close in this comic to stopping the rise of the Empire.
Alas, his fate is sealed and the fatalistic Maul we meet at the end of Clone Wars narrowly escapes when the Separatists finally overpower his forces. By this point, Maul knows the fate of the Galaxy is set.
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir isn’t required Star Wars reading by any regards. Once you’ve seen Clone Wars, you get the gist of where the story is going. The show gives you enough context clues that you can reason out that most important of these events happened without them being directly mentioned. The comic is just there to reveal details that would’ve been a part of the show had it not been canceled in 2013.
As a continuation of the Maul storyline, it’s a very enjoyable and exciting read, if you can find a copy… sadly the book has been out of print for the better part of a decade and is currently out of stock on Amazon…