Darth Maul: Death Sentence #3
Darth Maul: Death Sentence #3 (of 4)
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Bruno Redondo
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Cover Artist: Dave Dorman
The end draws near with Darth Maul: Death Sentence #3. In an ever surprising plotline, Maul finds himself leading a group of oppressed natives against their oppressors in order to save his brother, Opress. Yet things don’t go so well for the natives as they find their Demon in the Light is merely a monster standing in the sun. Maul is certainly not on the path to redemption.
First off, let me just say that the opening panel in this issue really caught my fancy. It’s not that it’s an extremely detailed work of art or a miraculous array of colors. What caught my eye was the composition. For all of the Maul we have seen in comics, film, and television, this is the first time I can recall him leading an army into battle. Posed on top of a hill, Maul raises his lightsaber for a charge while a horde rushes forward. The sun looks down on the red plains as arrows cruise through the air toward someone’s doom. It’s the iconic battle scene and not one to be passed over lightly.
Alas that epic scene quickly turns into a practice lesson, but it was good while it lasted. Still, we do get to see Maul the General. When it was slipped in that this prophecy could put Maul in a position to actually help people, I certainly found myself wondering how it would turn out. As one might expect, Maul stays true to his dark heart. His alignment with the natives is simply a way for him to further his own ends. The Demon in the Light is still a creature of the dark side and I like how Tom Taylor emphasized that in the story here and there. The lessons Maul passes out are rough and painful. Yet there is a bit of wisdom to them. As harsh as his leadership may be, it never comes off as a two dimensional effort to make him just look evil. Maul shows he’s skillful enough to be both evil and intelligent.
The artwork was also pretty good throughout the issue. In particular, I really liked the art for Ja’Boag. He has a very distinctive look, and Bruno does a lot with his alien facial expressions. My favorite panel is the scene where he’s smiling smugly with a plain, white background as he’s speaking to the Jedi. It’s a great close-up that captures the character’s emotion in both his eyes and mouth. You can almost feel his contempt for the Jedi and his sense of imagined superiority over them. A couple panels later, we see him again, but this time the happy grin is gone. Now he wears a grim, threatening mask that projects a ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude. It shows a great range of emotion.
When the actual battle hits, that great range of emotion continues panel-to-panel. Things kick off with a great scene of a star destroyer sweeping in toward the planet with a blazing sun at the center. As the battle progresses, there’s a panel where Maul is hiding behind a rock as Republic reinforcements circle his army. It’s such a subtle thing but so fitting. There he is, the great Demon in the Light, opting for self-preservation rather than putting on the big show of being fearless. It’s a stark contrast from his earlier posing during the practice sessions. Meanwhile the story plunges into back and forth scenes of manipulation that play out perfectly. The pacing slips into the feeling of a ticking clock with each panel showing the impending doom of everyone. The culminating events rouse the reader into a swell of building suspense…and then it ends just before the final stroke.
Death Sentence #3 certainly brings some fun to the table and is a nice setup for the final issue. We know Maul will rescue his brother, but what will happen to the Jedi who are now stuck in one hell of a mess? Furthermore, what will happen to the poor natives who have been lead to the slaughter? Will Ja’Boag get an inventive demise at the hands of the Maul brothers? Going off what we’ve seen so far in the series, I think there’s a good chance the end will be entertaining…one way or another. With good artwork and a good story, I give Death Sentence #3 a five out of five metal bikinis.