For those of you who missed it, Darth Maul is back. Yes, most of us thought he was long gone from the galaxy far, far away, but one absolute truth in science fiction is that not even death can keep a good character down. Just like Obi-wan Kenobi reached out from the greater beyond in order to whisper the mantra "use the Force" to young Luke Skywalker as he raced his X-Wing fighter down the Death Star trench, why couldn't one of the Sith transcend death? While some fans may find Maul's resurrection a bit bizarre, I personally find it a stroke of genius mostly because it keeps with what little we know of them thus far: they cling to life in order to seek out power and control over others, and, with his `dying' moments focusing his rage on a young Kenobi, Maul did just that. He survived death - in a macabre physical form - and, thankfully, he's back in the Star Wars universe to wreck havoc at the side of his brother, Savage Opress.
(WARNING: the following review will contain minor spoilers for the sole purpose of discussing the plot. If you prefer your reviews spoiler-free, then skip to the last two paragraphs for a quick assessment. Otherwise ... may the Force be with you and read on!)
With the help of the Night Sisters (see STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS television show for reference), Count Dooku's fallen apprentice Savage Opress combed the worlds of the galaxy and found that his fallen brother - Darth Maul - has survived. How? Hate and rage are the Sith's path, and only such powerful emotions could fuel the life force of a Dark Jedi sliced in half. Indeed, marshalling the forces of greed and envy can produce great benefits, as Maul has now been outfitted with a mechanical body in order to continue his pursuit of power. When Kenobi shares news of Maul's resurrection with the Jedi Council, Mace Windu and Yoda realize that the Sith have grown potent once more, and they dispatch an entire team of Jedi and Clone Troopers to finally destroy the Sith brothers. Can they stop them before Maul and Opress secure the resources they need to wage their private little war against the Republic?
You'll need to buy and read THE SITH HUNTERS for the answer to that question, but I'm comfortable admitting that HUNTERS gets kudos for bringing the dynamic new duo of villains to the galaxy. Granted, I would've liked a greater exploration of character here - so much of the STAR WARS mythology reduces the bad guys to merely power junkies - but this tale serves a simpler purpose: it puts this nefarious team back on the map. In fiction, villains have often been far more interesting than heroes. They often have far more layers, and they require far more nuance than heroes. I'm hoping that the Sith brothers will together enjoy a long, fruitful existence in the worlds that Dark Horse explore.
RECOMMENDED. More of a vignette than it is a story, THE SITH HUNTERS provides a great retelling of events established from THE CLONE WARS animated TV show that resurrected Darth Maul into the Star Wars galaxy, but little else. While it's great to see Maul back and it's great to see Opress chewing scenery with the best of `em, I'm hoping that Dark Horse can make greater use of the character who deserved more to do than he was given in his single theatrical outing (Maul). Might I suggest taking a trip out to your local comic book store to pick up STAR WARS: DARTH MAUL: DEATH SENTENCE? There's only a first installment out to the miniseries yet, but it looks to be a greater exploration of where Maul's headed in the adventures to come.
In the interests of fairness, I'm pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics provided me with a digital copy of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS: THE SITH HUNTERS by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.