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Sunday, 2 November 2014

AFICIONADO REVIEW: 'DARTH MAUL - SON OF DATHOMIR' GRAPHIC NOVEL

Reunited with his Mandalorian comrades, and the unique Dark Saber, Darth Maul is back for bloody revenge in Son of Dathomir. Cover arts: Chris Scalf. Images: DARK HORSE COMICS/TITAN BOOKS.

Note: This contains mild SPOILERS...

His important plotline left precariously unresolved at the end of the fifth and final series of THE CLONE WARS, former Sith warrior turned rogue trouble maker, Darth Maul, was in a bad way after the collapse of his terror rule of Mandalore, his dreams for evil through his conglomeration of the Shadow Collective seemingly shattered with the arrival of his ex-master: Darth Sidious. As the ambitious, action-packed DARTH MAUL: SON OF DATHOMIR, the officially approved continuation of the popular animated series in graphic novel form begins, based on four original scripts which ultimately never made it to our screens, Maul is now a prisoner on the secret, stark Stygeon prison world (recently given reality in the STAR WARS REBELS series), held ready for Sidious's grand and ingenious plan to lure out and trap the only person capable of sabotaging his ultimate design for the conquest of the Republic: the powerful, magick wielding Dathomir Witch-Queen, Mother Talzin, once a former ally but now too dangerous to be left alive. As the scheme is launched, of which Maul is soon helped to escape his grim confinement via his Mandalorian Death Watch cohorts, will Sidious's assassination plan come to successful fruition? Or has Mother Talzin, reunited with her progeny of evil in Maul, already anticipated the Sith's moves against her, preparing to make the ultimate counter-attack?

When Dark Side apprentices meet!

Choc-a-bloc full of all the classic ingredients that made THE CLONE WARS so popular with fans, this adaptation of Matt Michnovetz and Aida Mashaka Croal's tale to comic form proves itself a worthy creative decision from LUCASFILM, in conjunction with TITAN/DARK HORSE. Jeremy Barlow's script conversion is pacy and never outstays its near 100 page welcome, accompanied by all-important stirring, menace-packed artwork from Juan Frigeri and Mauro Vargas that's stunning and rich in detail, atmospherically capturing all the classic characters at their best. I think its true to say that STAR WARS fans love their heroes, but they savour its villains even more, especially when its the unique and diverse range comprised from the Prequel Trilogy. Any chance at seeing them embraced in collusion, fall-out, betrayal and ultimately fighting each other in numerous combinations is always welcome. The all-importrant continuity wrapped around these incidents is also excellent, with the satisfying conclusion (for the time being at least) of numerous arcs, prior teasingly leading up to these cataclysmic events, soon taking place on classic worlds as diverse as Ord Mantell, an asteroid in the Mandalore system, the new swamp planet Zanbar, and, finally, the ancient mystical realm of Dathomir, its moody environs set for the mighty, decisive battle between Sidious (at his merciless best) and the eerie form and power of the striking red-robed Mother Talzin. Factor in the continued treachery of elegantly evil Count Dooku (callously slaying another of the Jedi Order in the process of continuing his master's grand plans), the brutality of cyborg bully General Grievous, and the anger and drive of Maul, the ultimate pawn throughout these power games, and the Dark Side machinations of this unique revenge-driven story are spectacularly complete.

Count Dooku takes on Mother Talzin's Night Brothers!

AFICIONADO RATING: Its a genuine shame that SON OF DATHOMIR never made it's way to realisation via THE LOST MISSIONS, but its exemplary translation to comic book dominion is nonetheless superb, and a worthy final (?) appearance for everyone's favourite black and red tattooed baddie. Here's hoping more of Seasons Six to Eight's aborted work eventually materialises this way. 8 out of 10.

Get hold of the graphic novel here: Star Wars: Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir eBook: Jeremy Barlow, Juan Frigery, Juan Frigeri: Amazon.co.uk: Books


With thanks to TITAN BOOKS UK for their assistance.

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