More than a decade after his death, Darth Maul is making an animated comeback on Star Wars: The Clone Wars – well, half of him anyway.

The last time Star Wars fans saw the devilish, tattooed Sith, he was literally falling apart while plummeting to his supposed demise at the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi. However, it would seem the Dark Side of the Force comes with the added benefit of brushing off being cleaved in two like it was a paper cut.

For Maul, his survival is almost as implausible as his popularity – which seems to be based on equal parts love for his design, and disappointment that his sole appearance in the six-film saga added up to mere minutes of actual screen time (can you say Boba Fett?).

The hint at the high-kicking Sith’s return began in January during an episode of The Clone Wars wherein Maul’s patterned mug appeared in Mother Talzin’s crystal ball – telling Savage Opress of a familial connection and acting as major teaser for fans of the show.

Jump forward to spring 2012 – just weeks after Maul’s big screen appearance will be back in theaters with a 3D upgrade – and Cartoon Network will be serving up a chilly helping of revenge for Obi-Wan and his Padawan Anakin.

The producers and writers of Cartoon Network’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars are hopeful that Darth Maul’s return will once more shine the spotlight on the character, and according to Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni, act as a mea culpa to fans from the creator himself, George Lucas – for the lack of attention given the character:

“I found it funny in The Phantom Menace when Darth Maul got cut in half. I thought George was definitively saying to the fans, ‘There’s no way this character is coming back. This is not a Boba Fett/Sarlacc Pit situation where, because of fan love, Boba gets out of that thing any number of ways.’ Fast-forward ten-years, and I’m the one to bring Maul back.”

Take a look at the teaser for the return of Darth Maul:

The next step, according to Filoni, will be to convince fans that Maul’s continued existence actually plays with established Star Wars canon. Take for instance the scene in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, where Darth Sidious mentions the Dark Side’s ability to stave-off death, as part of his initial sales pitch to Anakin. Sidious presumably puts those abilities into effect after Obi-Wan removes appendages 2 – 4 from Anakin, then letting him roast to perfection.

Provided Filoni is able to get them on board, fans will be pleased to know that Maul’s return won’t be some flash-in-the-pan story. “There’s a lot of ground that has not been covered as far as Darth Maul is concerned, so there’s a lot of room to grow with him.”

The biggest draw for Filoni is getting to play with a character whose post-Clone Wars story is largely unknown. Though accounts of Maul surviving have been told elsewhere, a statement from Filoni suggests Star Wars: The Clone Wars may be moving in a different direction altogether. “Here, we’re moving forward with Maul. He’s more than ten years older than he was in The Phantom Menace. That’s immensely satisfying, because now nobody knows what’s going to happen to him. I know, but nobody else does.”

Star Wars: The Clone Wars airs Friday nights @8pm on Cartoon Network.

Source: EW & USA Today