Darth Maul has finally returned in comic book form in this 5 issue miniseries from Marvel. One of the opening concerns with his one was the lack of Marvel’s consistency with their short Star Wars runs. Some are phenomenal, some are extremely lack luster and to do a disservice to Darth Maul fans everywhere is a dangerous game. With that in mind, I went into this comic book expecting Marvel to impress me, because if they didn’t at least meet my expectations, as they must do with all of their Star Wars comics, I’m going to be fairly disappointed. In the wake of a mixed bag of great and not so great star wars comics, Darth Maul’s uprising during the time of The Phantom Menace is a time period rarely explored in any Star Wars medium and Maul is a fan favorite, so there’s a lot of potential here, but also a lot of room to fail.
Darth Maul #1 takes place early in Maul’s apprenticeship with Palpatine, whose plan to overthrow the government and become the Emperor is still in very early works. Unfortunately for Maul, this means a lot of waiting in the shadows for the opportune time to strike, but this completely goes against Maul’s vicious and violent nature. He seeks challenge and the hunt, and without it he feels he’ll go insane. In order to sate his hunger, Palpatine sends his apprentice on various low key but bloody missions, keeping the Sith’s leash short enough to pull if Maul gets too out of hand. However when a new lead arises, Maul learns of a young Jedi vulnerable and exposed, he immediately takes the opportunity to prove himself to his ever meticulous and unimpressed master. Maul sees this as his one true chance to exceed his master’s expectations, and as a challenge to himself to destroy his first Jedi, one who he hopes will be of many.
Darth Maul #1 offers a new and often unexplored look into the Star Wars universe. Young Darth Maul is canonically completely unexplored, The Phantom Menace’s story line is barely touched and the Sith viewpoint, especially behind the scenes is always a treat. There are a lot of aspects to Darth Maul, and while we get to see so much more of him outside the first movie in The Clone Wars and Rebels TV shows, he’s still a character shrouded in mystery. In this first issue, we get to see a young, savage sith apprentice hungry for battle and for blood and it’s pretty convincing. The art is beautiful, the comic feels like Star Wars, and the writing up to this point is top notch. While this first issue wasn’t a mind blowing page turner by any means, Darth Maul shows a ton of promise, and is easily working up to be one of the best, if not the best 5 issue Star Wars series that Marvel has put out so far.
(4.5 / 5)
Listen, I’m a sucker for Star Wars content. I don’t care what it is or who it’s about, I’m probably in. Does Marvel oversaturate the Star Wars comic book market? Yes. Am I their pathetic demographic? Absolutely. Beckett is a one-shot Star Wars comic based off the Han Solo mentor character from the Solo movie. Why is there a comic about this character? Who knows. There shouldn’t be, and yet here I am, buying and reading it. In all fairness, Marvel usually does a pretty good job with these short stories, and it’s hard to pass up these 1 and done issues. As long as they’re not trying to make anything continuous out of this, I can’t really complain. With the controversy that surrounded the necessity and the quality of the Solo movie still here though, I question the decision to print this comic book. DJ from The Last Jedi got his own comic book and I’m sure that sold all of 3 copies total. I gave it a read anyway.
Beckett is about everything you would expect. He’s a scoundrel and he doesn’t care who he screws over if it means he and his team are better off for it. We follow Beckett and his familiar band of criminals across the galaxy in 3 small adventures, paying homage to some characters from Solo and giving us a few glimpses into Becketts otherwise everyday life. He’s clever, shoots from the hip and he gets away with it too. Each different chapter shows a some different sides of the crew, though all seriousness aside, it’s mostly about them getting out of any precarious situation they manage to get themselves into, and there’s not much else to it.
Reviewing a Star Wars comic book is pretty easy for me. Does it feel and look like Star Wars? Yes. Beckett manages with it’s art and story to give off a pretty convincing Star Wars vibe, and that’s more than I can say about a few of the Marvel Star Wars comics of the past few years. The look of this comic works, and while the story is extremely simple and provides nothing new or exceptional it’s also entertaining enough to keep you reading. That info can be turned on its head though, especially when considering what this comic book is. No one really cares about this character, and while I liked Solo, like Woody Harrelson and didn’t mind Beckett as a character, he’s pretty disposable. This comic is obviously designed for die hards and loyal readers, because no one else is going to pick this up, nor should they, and if Marvel is okay with that then it looks like we have a pretty decent comic book here. What more can you ask for? Beckett is a passable comic that should appease Beckett fans. If they’re out there. Kudos to the artist for putting chapters in this comic, and using an entire half page to indicate chapters 1-3. That’s cool and different.
(3.5 / 5)
Ah Lando.. The ultra suave, seductive scoundrel we all know and love. There’s something about Lando and comic books that just click, and after the 5 issue mini series a while ago for the more familiar older version of the character, Double or Nothing brings us back to Donald Glover’s young and less jaded version of Lando, bringing us a new story in the wake of the Solo movie which just hit theaters a short while ago. Star Wars comics seem to rarely go wrong, and for as much as I like Lando as a character, I was pretty excited to see what Marvel would do with this comic. It’s worth noting that Double or Nothing may fall solely as a marketing ploy for the movie. It’s really the only reason it exists after all, so there’s always the opportunity for Marvel to really drop the ball here and make a passable, forgettable story because they’re forced to. But, these shorter runs and short stories open up the spotlight for less known and up and coming comic book writers / artists to shine. Surprisingly enough this comic is written by Rodney Barnes, who’s much more well known for writing television, and I love seeing what non-regulars in the field can dish out.
Lando is a scoundrel. He’s not a master of chance or the hero of the tale, he’s a self centered cheater. He doesn’t win at cards because of an amazing skill at the game, he wins because of the card up his sleeve. The best thing about him as a character is that his charm only covers up his scumbaggery and his taste for a lavish life. Those traits mix together to make one of the best smugglers in the galaxy, and he’s got the reputation for it. When the wealthy daughter of a slave approaches him and offers a lump sum of credits for his skills in the field, Lando can’t turn it down, so with his trusty droid L3 he takes off on another money earning adventure which of course is going to get him and his allies in more trouble than he’s bargained for.
Double or Nothing does a great job of not only extending the character development of Lando set up in the Solo movie, but also showcasing Lando’s character in a way that feels like a smuggler / scoundrel comic. Unlike Han Solo, who despite being a smuggler and a scoundrel like Lando, will always be expected to save the day or adhere to some protagonist morals, Lando has no limitations. That’s why he’s awesome, and this comic does a pretty decent job of at least showing the smuggler as the pompous slippery scum that he is. Lando doesn’t have to save the day if it’s not beneficial to him, even if he’s a decent guy at heart, and that sets up for some pretty cool stuff for the future of this comic. The excessive dialogue and slow moving pace of the comic itself gives hints toward the script-writing nature of the comic writer, but it’s easily passable with the pleasing looking art and decent beginning. Lando, if written well, will carry any story, and that’s what we’re seeing here. So as long as the writer keeps what he’s doing going with Lando, Double or Nothing will be another notable entry to the Star Wars Marvel gallery.
(4.5 / 5)