Cullen Bunn is one of those writers who has written a lot of comics that I’ve liked, but nothing I’ve been truly passionate about. (Yet, anyway.) “Darth Maul” doesn’t really move the needle regarding my opinion of him as it’s a capable, competent comic that you could buy or skip entirely without any repercussions. There is at least a decent idea at the heart of Bunn’s take on Maul as we’re introduced to the apprentice Sith trying to control the bloodlust his master Darth Sidious has stoked in him. Whether it’s taking on a pack of alien monsters or silently brooding at Jedi at Coruscant, he’s chomping at the bit to get on with his master’s plan to take down the Jedi order. Sidious realizes this and sends his apprentice on a mission to bail out some of his allies in the Trade Federation, which Maul does without question or much of a hassle. This mission isn’t without its benefits as Maul learns about a crimelord’s plan to auction off a Jedi Padawan.
In order to secure this padawan for himself and temporarily quench his bloodlust, Maul is going to need two things: Restraint, and some allies. The rest of the volume shows us how he deals with both of these things in ways both good and bad. While the group of bounty hunters Maul hires at least have amusing one-note personalities, the decent idea of having this bloodthirsty Sith learn restraint starts to get old after a while. This is mainly because Bunn won’t stop hammering this idea home in the character’s internal monologue which eventually transitions from overwrought to self-parody. Even in the face of good scenes, like the one where Maul sneaks in to get a look at the padawan, but has to restrain himself once he’s caught.
Luke Ross handles the art here and he’s been an uneven presence in the time that I’ve seen his work. This, however, is one of his better efforts as he produces some impressively detailed work that captures the “Star Wars” feel in its familiar and new elements. If the writing was as good as the art, then this would be an easy recommendation. Combining the two, the final product that is this “Darth Maul” comic is ultimately “not bad.”