by Vince Brusio
For those fans who thought they had the rug pulled out from under them when The Clone Wars TV series was cancelled, you’ll be happy to know that writer Jeremy Barlow has come to save the day, lightsaber in hand, and the Force strong within him. The new Dark Horse Comics limited series Star Wars: Darth Maul—Son of Dathomir (MAR140018) picks up from where the TV show left off, and gives closure to the storyline that many of us thought ended too abruptly. It’s a fine line to walk when you’re taking a TV series and retrofitting it for a comic book. But Jeremy was up to the task. He likes working with the underdog.
PREVIEWSworld: Wait. Darth Maul? The guy who was cut in half by Ben Kenobi in The Phantom Menace? The dude must have more lives than a...superhero. But, hang on, according to the text for the book listed in the March PREVIEWS, this new series is based on unaired episodes of The Clone Wars TV series, correct? How did you push that boulder up the hill? What’s with this "Season Six" approach?
Jeremy Barlow: It’s true—Darth Maul has returned! And yeah, this story is adapting an important episode arc that hadn’t yet been produced when The Clone Wars series was cancelled. The aim here is to both give closure to the show’s fans while still welcoming those readers who haven’t been watching. So Son of Dathomir keeps The Clone Wars feel and tone, but the art style is a little grittier and more in-line with Dark Horse’s Star Wars sensibility. Everything I’ve seen so far looks great.
My approach has been to stay true to the existing screenplays while tailoring the stories to better fit the comics medium. It’s a challenging game of artful reduction, but we’re all really happy with the results.
PREVIEWSworld: So without getting yourself and Dark Horse into trouble, what can you tell us about this series, in terms of how it will move the needle on exposing the dark underside of this character? How does he prove to be the man for the job? Has he issued an intergalactic decree that all rebel scum should flee when he’s in town?
Jeremy Barlow: Well, remember—this is the Clone Wars era. The Rebel Alliance is still a couple decades away, so Maul has to satisfy his bloodlust with a different kind of scum. And, boy does he!
This story focuses primarily on Maul’s drive for revenge against Darth Sidious and Count Dooku. Darth Maul is a man without a country now, and he’s an unexpected complication to Sidious’ master plan for galactic conquest. And we know how Sidious deals with complications.
Maul isn’t alone, though, and we’ll learn that there are a few people and places that he actually cares deeply about. Which, of course, become a weaknesses that the Sith use against him. So we get a glimpse of a slightly more soulful Darth Maul than we’re used to…but only slightly! There’s still so much rage!
PREVIEWSworld: So there seems to be more and more writers wanting to explore the potential of Darth Maul as an "A" list villain. But how far would he have to go to be in the same league as Darth Vader? Is that what makes him such a fascinating character? That he's getting close to being on par with the Dark Lord of the Sith?
Jeremy Barlow: His power isn’t on Vader’s level, true, or even on Count Dooku’s level — but that never stops him. He stands alongside the Sith Lords only by sheer force of will.
Maul is the ultimate underdog here, and that’s what I like about him. The Jedi are hunting him. The Sith are trying to destroy him. His only allies are mercenaries and cutthroats that are only as loyal as they’re paid to be. And yet no matter how bad the situation gets for Maul, and it gets bad here, he just keeps getting up and pushing forward. I love that.
PREVIEWSworld: What was your first impression of Darth Maul? How did he move you to want to write about him?
Jeremy Barlow: His reveal in The Phantom Menace was dynamite. So quick and so brutal — and he just looked so damn cool. I didn’t think there was much more to him than that, though, and just being a badass isn’t a strong enough character trait for me to hang on to.
I was wrong about him, though. The show has done a great job of rounding him out and giving his existence meaning, and once Son of Dathomir got rolling I found him to be an extremely exciting character to write. I’m really honored to be the one bringing his story home.
PREVIEWSworld: If there's a way for people to keep tabs on how you progress on this book, how can they find you online?
Jeremy Barlow: My social media presence is pretty sparse. I’m most active on Twitter, and folks can find me at twitter.com/Jeremy_Barlow.