Darth Maul: The Making of a Sith
Cullen Bunn discusses the upcoming solo adventure for this Star Wars stalwart!
On February 1, Star Wars fans will find themselves facing one of the deadliest of Darth Sidious’ apprentices and certainly the longest lasting one: Darth Maul. This meeting takes place in the upcoming DARTH MAUL limited series written by Cullen Bunn with art by Luke Ross.
Although the series focuses on the short period following Maul’s christening as Palpatine’s apprentice just before the events of “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace,” we decided to talk with Bunn about his thoughts on the most significant events that helped create the cerebral attack dog who quickly became a true fan favorite.
Marvel.com: If we’re being honest and upfront with one another, Cullen, let’s admit one thing: You’ve been given the chance to work with one of the baddest villains in the Star Wars toy box. What was your response when you found out about this opportunity and what is the major appeal to Darth Maul for you?
Cullen Bunn: When editor Jordan D. White called me and asked if I’d be interested in writing a Darth Maul comic, I think I responded with an adamant “Yes!” before he had even finished the sentence. As you said, Maul is one of the coolest characters in the Star Wars galaxy. Star Wars is blessed with a wealth of characters that you want to know more about. I mean, every background character in every cantina in every hive of scum and villainy is ripe for further exploration. But Maul ranks right at the top. We’ve seen a few different sides of Maul: obedient killing machine, madman, crime lord, cunning strategist. I was excited to write a story that might show off all of those aspects of the character. I also find it fascinating that the Sith are taught to embrace their anger, but Maul—because of his master’s planning—has to keep his in check.
Marvel.com: So let’s dig in here. When it comes to the most significant events in the life of Darth Maul, I think we have to go back to what is probably the best scene from “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace”: the big showdown between Qui-Gon Jinn, a young Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Darth Maul. What was your reaction to first seeing it when the movie first came out and how did it inform your take on the character?
Cullen Bunn: Yes, for me the showdown between Maul and the Jedi was the best scene in “The Phantom Menace.” It was exciting to see because Maul was so different than Vader, the only other Sith I had seen in action at that point. He was fast. He jumped. He used martial arts. He uses the Force to hurl objects with deadly accuracy. And that lightsaber! There’s a moment in that fight when Qui-Gon Jinn and Maul are moving down a corridor and these force fields are separating them. Qui-Gon sits in an almost meditative stance. But Maul is pacing back and forth, menacing, so impatient to kill his enemy. I feel like that moment really informed where I wanted to go with the character.
Marvel.com: There’s also the Maul we that we meet back in the animated “Star Wars: Clone Wars” television series, years after his defeat at the hands of Obi-Wan. This takes place well-after the time you’ll be writing about, of course, but which moments from this series stood out the most to you in terms of developing the who Darth Maul would become?
Cullen Bunn: Yes, this is long after the story I’m telling, but “Clone Wars” still helped to inform the character. This is where you are seeing a different side of Maul, really digging into what makes him tick. He’s more than just an attack dog. As far as I was concerned, those aspects of Maul were always there. We just didn’t see them in “The Phantom Menace.” The Maul I’m writing plays a lot closer to this version of the character, I think. There are little bits and pieces that are left unexplained here, and I am able to connect the dots a little in my book.
Marvel.com: Naturally, this brings us to his current iteration as seen on the “Star Wars: Rebels” cartoon. Was there anything noteworthy that took you by surprise in his appearance here? The changes seem pretty obvious, but has he become someone altogether different for you at this point, especially when looking at the version you’ll be introducing us to later this month?
Cullen Bunn: Again, I look at all the changes to the character, and I feel like the seeds of those changes might have been with them for a long time, so I wanted to write a character that readers can see turning into the man they would see in “Rebels.” And I think I’ve found some interesting connective tissue between the comic and “Rebels”, too. There are definitely some things to look for fans of the series.
Marvel.com: Of course, he existed in the Legends material as well, and while no longer canon, were there any particular stories that stood out to you that really got to the heart of the character for you?
Cullen Bunn: I had not read many of the Maul comics before taking on this series. And I struggled with the notion of reading them. SON OF DATHOMIR was an easy choice, but I didn’t want many of the other books to influence me in a major way. After I came up with my pitch for the series, I had some time on my hands before approval, so I did go back and read the Legends stuff. I enjoyed quite a bit of it.
Marvel.com: As we wrap things up here, Cullen, is one thing in particular you think that will provide an equally momentous milestone for Maul in the story you and Luke Ross will be telling? Any hints as to what that will be?
Cullen Bunn: There are some major milestones for Maul in this book. Not only will you see how his training shaped him, you’ll also see him take actions that inform the man he will become and that could haunt him even in his latest incarnation.
There’s also quite a few guest stars I’m excited about in this series. Some are new, like Jedi Padawan Eldra Kaitis, but some are characters you’ve seen before and they may surprise you when they show up.
Get to know your Sith Lord in Cullen Bunn and Luke Ross’ DARTH MAUL #1, out February 1 and available at your local comic book retailer!
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