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Book I (Part IV) - Darth Maul - 004 - Marvel Comics

Series: Darth Maul

Issue: 4

Title: Book I (Part IV)

Creators: Cullen Bunn (Writer); Luke Ross (Illustrator)

Release Date: June 21, 2017

Timeline: Prior to the events of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Review by Colin Borden. This is a full review with discussion.
Spoiler warning applies...

Darth Maul and his crew of bounty hunters have captured Eldra, the hunted Jedi Padawan! But Xev Xrexus will not give up her prize without a fight. There’s a new bounty out…and the reward for whoever defeats Maul and captures the Padawan is worth dying for. Not to mention, Eldra isn’t leaving without a fight, either....

Jedi Padawan Eldra Kaitis is the prisoner of profiteering gangster Xev Xrexus. Xrexus has gathered the most dangerous crime bosses in the galaxy to participate in an auction to purchase the Padawan.

Sith apprentice Darth Maul has infiltrated the auction against the will of his Master, the mysterious Darth Sidious. With a group of bounty hunters -including Cad Bane and Aurra Sing- Maul plans on kidnapping the Padawan and killing her in order to satiate his desire for vengeance against the Jedi.

Though the kidnapping proceeds successfully, Maul is baited by the Padawan, who claims to be his equal and demands a fair fight. Their potential duel is cut short when Xrexus, having discovered the theft, has their vessel shot down -and invites the disappointed crime bosses from the auction to hunt them for sport....

Review & Summary

Cover by Rafael Pinto AlbuquerqueThe end of issue 3 was so very predictable, I immediately knew before the explosion occurred that something would cause Maul and Eldra to team up. Once the bomb exploded, I knew they were going to be hunted. Don't take it wrong, this didn't take away from that issue or even this issue at all. It really worked for me. We left off with Maul, Eldra, and the Bounty Hunters crashing in their freighter while Xev explained the hunt price. One thing that jumped out to me in the crawl was that it says Xev has the ship "shot down" which is obviously not what happened. A bomb brought the freighter down, not a shot, but I may be nit-picking here.

We see them crash on a moon in the Drazkel system. I really like the prospect of these gangs and bosses unknowingly hunting a Sith along with their expected Jedi Padawan. Cad, Aurra, and Vorhdeilo are standing around the crash while Xev is speaking to the group of bidders. She entices the losing bidders with the fact that the cunning and resourceful Padawan is still alive. While she talks, Maul and Eldra emerge from the other portion of the wreckage. Xev explains that her "liberators" are also alive and will provide additional thrill and challenge for those who dare pursue them. Xrexus gives a winning smile while she consoles the losing bidders with the fact that when one door closes, another opens (weird thought, she reminds me of Juliane Moore). She reminds them that most of them were going to kill the Padawan anyway, so why not make a bit of sport out of it. "The sooner you pay, the sooner you can be planet side." With that, the hunt begins.

Maul approaches Cad pushing Eldra along. Cad is getting worried,mostly about Maul's money and his new "hazard pay" bonus. Aurra inspects the ship's wreckage and notices that it was set to explode outwards and disable the ship while causing very minimal damage to the cargo and passengers. It seems they're starting to understand what is happening here. Maul lets them know they want the Padawan alive. Eldra reminds me a bit of Ahsoka in the way that she acts. You can just hear her saying, "The Padawan has a name!" Bane makes it known that they need to get off this moon and just as he says that, Aurra can see a group of ships approaching, "You said it, Bane. We've got several ships coming in for a landing. I'm betting they aren't here to play nice." Bane now fully understands what is happening. Xev is making a sport of them after they made her look bad. Eldra says, "They're hunting me." Maul responds with his glowing yellow eyes, "You were going to die one way or another. You were destined to die from the moment you first stepped into a Jedi Temple. They are hunting ALL of us!." Eldra reminds them, "Well, you kind of brought it on yourselves." which Cad finds amusing to say the very least.

Maul decides that it is necessary for them to split up since they're mostly interested in the Padawan. Maul plans to keep them distracted while Cad, Aurra, and Mr. Mosquito search for another ship to steal. Maul's Orders: Kill anyone in your way, scuttle any ship we don't need and we'll strand what few survivors there are on this desolate moon. Bane thinks that's a great idea, but he asks Maul, "What makes you think we won't just leave you here along with the rest?" Maul already knows why Bane won't leave, but he lets him know, "I'm counting on the supposition that you want to earn your hazard pay." Hazard pay was all Bane needed to hear, "you heard the man. We've got another ship to steal." he says as he removes his two blasters from his holsters.

As you see Cad, Aurra, and Vorhdeilo preparing to leave, I found myself wondering where Tek-Tek was and lo and behold, Vorhdeilo wondered the same thing. Aurra says she believed he probably got vaporized by the explosion. "Lucky him," Vorhdeilo says. We then see a trail of blood in which we find Tek-Tek at the end of. This part was funny and I enjoyed it. Tek-Tek crawling, missing a leg, and leaving a trail of blood reaches out for the droid in the shadows. This made it entirely worth including F3-B3 in the previous issues.Tek-Tek is yelling, "Droid! Droid...Help me!." And the response is exactly what you'd expect someone to respond to their torturer, but in a protocol droid way. "Help you? My word! Such a strange request," Fee-Bee says as Tek-Tek yells and begs, "I so dearly wish to help, but I'm afraid I would be useless in this situation. Perhaps if I still had my eyes."

Back with Maul and Eldra we find Maul thinking to himself about his desires. He believed he was driven by anger and vengeance, but he realizes he was wrong. He is driven by anticipation and excitement that moves him towards his goal.The probes tell Maul something which he relays to Eldra, the hunters are getting close. I really love how Eldra uses Maul's emotions against him. She says she could help if he would remove the binders and give her back her Lightsaber. He almost looks like he is gauging her honesty, but then he raises a fist. "Unless you want to risk one of these hunters murdering me before you get the chance, " she says. She played him well and instead of striking her, the binders drop and he hands her back her Jedi weapon. Suddenly they're standing back to back, sabers ignited and hunters approaching them. "May the Force be with you," Eldra says. Maul finds this patronizing. "Spare me! I do not need your Jedi platitudes. The Force is Always with me," Maul responds.

As they're deflecting fire, Maul thinks to himself that she must have sensed his nature, power, and hatred and already know the Force is with him. He also knows that within her he sensed no fear. He watches as she shows off her skills with her Lightsaber which Maul is very pleased by. "She has been well-trained by her Masters. She would have surely been accepted as a Jedi Knight soon." he thinks. This makes him even happier because when he kills her, he says he will "know the satisfaction of taking a Jedi's life, the first of many!" Maul knows that she is watching him and measuring his skills as well. He also believes she has accepted her fate or resigned him to his. "Good" he says aloud with one of the most wicked looks I've seen come from Maul. She glares back returning the same very wicked look.

We move on to a group of Trandoshan hunters tracking their Padawan prey. They can tell that someone has come this way recently, "The Jedi is mine!" one of them blurts out, but he is surprised by a sudden voice from nowhere. "Hate to disappoint. No Jedi here." says Bane leaning against a rock formation, "But you can take your best shot with me if that tickles your fancy." All the Trandoshans take aim, but the leader puts up a hand and tells them to lower their weapons. "If this scum wants a showdown, i'll give him one," the leader says confidently. He tosses his weapon and tells his crew to let Bane live if he wins. Suddenly, Vorhdeilo leaps from nowhere with a knife in each of his four appendages. Two more go down as Aurra snipes them from afar, "Womp rats in a barrel," Aurra brags. Bane flies upwards with his thrusters and kills two more, "Sorry fellas, you'd best believe I was a faster draw than your boss, but that don't mean I'm gonna play fair." he says

Maul and Eldra are walking along a ledge when Eldra assumes this would be a good time to ask Maul about himself. She says, "Sith" which he actually responds to and acknowledges."I thought you were all gone... all.." Eldra says. "Dead. Almost all of us, thanks to the Jedi." Maul snaps. She continues to probe him for answers and she wonders why after all this time in hiding he chose to show himself and come after her. Why was she worth risking his secrecy? With an evil scowl, he assures her that, "My existence will REMAIN secret." She also takes this opportunity to let Maul know she could've ran at any point during the fight. Maul responds, "You could've given into your fear. No. That is not your way..even if you were not a Jedi." "Let's just get on with it," she says, but Maul refuses explaining it is a sacred rite that will not be sullied by these base thugs and criminals. Eldra again shows her cleverness with a smirk on her face,"You mean you don't want witnesses. That's why you sent those bounty hunters away. You're hiding something..or from someone. I can feel it." This makes Maul furious. "Who are you afraid of?"

It now cuts to "Later" where Maul and Eldra are deep in battle with some IG series Assassin droids. Maul feels that there is anger in Eldra that he can sense and see in her actions. I like this idea because last issue as she watched Maul fight and she realized "what" he is, she had a smile on her face. Her actions seem to make her look like she is caught between the Light and Dark. After making quick work of the IG's, they move on to slaughtering the Kyuzo's. Maul now thinks had this been another time or place, she might have been tempted to the Dark side and been an ally (I've secretly wanted to see her turn since we saw her in her cell in issue #2), but Maul says by seeking her out he has taken away that choice because Sidious must never know. "I have condemned her," Maul thinks as they stand triumphant atop the dead bodies of Hondo's pirate crew.

Eldra says to Maul with what appears to be the first look of sincere compassion I've seen from her thus far, "We needn't be enemies. We don't have to fight. You don't have to give yourself over so completely to this...darkness." Maul appears almost puzzled and enraged,"If you believe that, you're not the Jedi I thought you were." which gets an angry look from Eldra, but then you see the sharpness in her eyes."Yeah, I thought maybe I would give you a chance to back down before you got yourself first humiliated and then killed. That's All," she says to Maul. Oh my, I can just feel the tension growing and I'm losing my mind in anticipation as the remaining pages dwindle. You can really feel Maul's hatred and rage after that last statement she made."The same chance your Jedi predecessors gave the Sith?" Maul says with his eyes glaring. "All right, then." Eldra says as she walks with her hilt. They square off with each other, eyes locked, and ready themselves for battle.You can see Maul's intensity while Eldra gives off nothing but calm. She ignites her blade first. Maul, his. He thinks to himself, "At last." as he enters his fighting pose and then....

I was rather impressed with this issue from start to finish. I knew that it would be the big build up to the fight, but they made it work. Even though I'm sure we all could anticipate what was going to happen in this issue with them teaming up and the hunt, they didn't overwhelm with the actual hunt itself. They showed just enough of the hunting which played out well to show Maul and Eldris studying each other as they slayed a variety of different species. It also gave Bane and the Bounty Hunters enough without over-using them. The Trandoshan fight was excellent and included the entire crew and they also wrapped up the F3-B3 character very well with a funny ending for Tek-Tek, although where did that droid go off to? I still get that feeling like Eldra is straying from the Light and dabbling with the Darkness, but I mean Maul has to kill her, right? If he didn't, she would be too much of a liability and ruin Palpatines plans with one word. Sith. I cannot wait to see how this all gets wrapped up and all I know is I am very excited to see this finale, how about you?

Want to see a certain series reviewed? Drop me a line and let me know!

What Worked

  • Even though it was obvious,The Sith/Jedi team up
  • F3-B3 basically telling Tek-Tek to go to hell in his protocol way
  • Eldris playing Maul's emotions against him
  • Bounty Hunter/Trandoshan showdown
  • Maul's acknowledgement of the Sith
  • Eldra's slight Dark Side tendencies

What Didn’t Work

  • The crawl "Shot Down" mistake
  • I wanted to know who actually planted the ship bomb
Variant Cover Gallery

Star Wars 40th Anniversary variant cover by Chip Zdarsky   Variant cover by Elsa Charretier   Variant cover by Francesco Francavilla   Variant cover by David Nakayama

External Links:
Added: July 6, 2017
Category: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Colin Borden
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