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A Comics Guide to SOLO’s Surprise Character

A Comics Guide to SOLO’s Surprise Character

The following contains MAJOR plot spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story. We strongly urge you to go see the movie before reading this. But as soon as you do, come back here, because we have a lot to discuss!

Okay, shall we begin?

Solo: A Star Wars Story had a lot more references to things in the greater Star Wars universe–both established canon and Legends material now made canon again–and it wasn’t just limited to that darn Kessel Run. Offhanded references to bounty hunters and gangsters on Tatooine were one thing, but we never expected we’d see a character from The Phantom Menace grace the screen. Yes, we of course mean Warwick Davis’ Weazel, shown at the Boonta Eve podrace and now part of Enfys Nest’s band of proto-Rebels.

Just kidding. We mean Maul, formerly Darth Maul, who is making only his second appearance in a feature film, but who’s had a rich slew of adventures in spin-off material. His television appearances (in The Clone Wars and Rebels) and prose about him are covered here, but right now we’re gonna talk about what Maul has done in the comics, and fill in the through-line between being cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi and being the head of the Crimson Dawn criminal syndicate.

As of right now, there are only two canonical stories in the comics, and one of them is the only Dark Horse comic that’s been fully canonized after Marvel Comics picked up the Star Wars brand through Disney. That story, written by Jeremy Barlow, with artwork by penciller Juan Frigeri, inker Mauro Vargas, colorist Wes Dzioba, and cover artist Chris Scalf, is the four-issue miniseries, Star Wars: Darth Maul – Son of Dathomir. Published from May to August of 2014, the miniseries was an adaptation of an unproduced story arc from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, in what would have been their sixth season prior to cancellation.

The story details Maul’s imprisonment by his former master, Darth Sidious, after his play for vengeance was thwarted. We then see his escape by members of the Mandalorian Death Watch, a shady organization that banded together with the Pyke Syndicate, Black Sun, Nightbrothers, and Hutts to form the Shadow Collective, of which Maul was the leader. This leads to a massive battle between Maul and the members of his group and his replacement, Count Dooku, whom Maul sees as a false Sith, and pretender to the mantle of apprentice. Following a prolonged battle which sees the Shadow Collective lose stakes in several important business arenas, Maul heads back to his homeworld of Dathomir where he’s again betrayed and fights against General Grievous and Sidous, before he’s left for dead, and the Shadow Collective in tatters.

There’s a lot more to this story–all of it tying in to Maul’s Clone Wars appearances–but it leaves him sufficiently defeated and on the run, which will surely be explored in further adventures, given he’s the head of Crimson Dawn when we see him in Solo, but not the half-insane mystic we eventually see when he reappears in Rebels.

The second canon comic storyline came in the big wave of Marvel stories following the Disney/Lucasfilm merger. Darth Maul was written by Cullen Bunn with art by Luke Ross and was published between February and July of 2017. The story takes place prior to the events of The Phantom Menace, with Maul an even younger apprentice of Darth Sidious. As he’s not yet allowed to reveal himself to the Jedi, he’s tasked with hunting down crime lords for training purposes. However, in doing this, he learns that one crime boss has a Jedi Padawan prisoner, and Maul–ignoring his master’s strict instructions–decides to engage the young Jedi to test his mettle. First he has to stop the Padawan from being sold off to the highest bidder, and to do that, Maul enlists the help of bounty hunters–Cad Bane and Aurra Sing, both of whom play major parts in The Clone Wars storylines.

There’s a lot of time we don’t know about in the life of Darth Maul, but a great deal we do. He’s become one of the most interesting and layered characters in the entire Star Wars saga, which you’d never get if you just watched the movies. But we’ll definitely be getting a lot more of him in the future, by all accounts.

Images: Marvel/Lucasfilm

Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist. You can find his film and TV reviews here. Follow him on Twitter!

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