WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Darth Maul #3
The days of Darth Maul being a footnote in the grand, canon Star Wars series are over, as the Phantom Menace henchman has returned to play a pivotal, canonical role in Star Wars: Rebels. And thanks to Marvel Comics, Darth Maul is meeting a member of the Jedi Order tailor made to challenge him - long before he ever crossed sabers with Qui-Gon Jinn or Obi-wan Kenobi. But before they fight eachother to the death... they may need to rely on eachother to survive.
That's the latest twist in the tale of Darth Maul #3, after the previous issues focused in on the rage and desperation for violence that flowed through Maul every time he wasn't talking to his master, Darth Sidious. When word of a captured Jedi Padawan being put up for auction to the highest criminal bidder popped onto his radar, this Sith Apprentice saw his opportunity. Traveling across space and gaining the support from Clone Wars bounty hunters Cad Bane and his regular band of miscreants, Maul is finally within sight of his long awaited Jedi slaughter...
Darth Maul Will Have To Bid For His Revenge
The novelty of seeing Darth Maul claim the spotlight all too himself has yet to wear off, especially in a greater Star Wars franchise emphasizing inter-connectivity, causality, and an "it's all connected" mentality. That's a credit to writer Cullen Bunn and artists Luke Ross and Nolan Woodard, who have so far crafted a story that presents Darth Maul as cunning, intelligent, and self-aware... while also being an almost uncontrollable ball of seething hate, anger, and unstoppable bloodlust. The latter is the dangerous part, since Maul is fully aware that if Sidious found out his apprentice had jeopardized his galactic plot to slaughter a few Jedi, his punishment would be... severe.
Still, Darth Maul just can't help himself when he arrives at the gathering of the Star Wars galaxy's most immoral criminal enterprises. Rubbing shoulders with crime bosses in an assumed identity grows old fast, and Darth Maul pays the Jedi Padawan - a Twi'lek woman named Eldra Kaitis - a visit in her holding cell. She welcomes the grim, hooded figure with an admirable amount of personality reminiscent of the Clone Wars or Rebels pluck Twi'lek are known for... but when her Force sensitivity reveals it is an evil Force User standing before her, consumed by rage and hate, things change.
But an auction is an auction, and the safest way for Darth Maul to get his hands on the prisoner. Which is a bit of a problem, since he and his bounty hunters can't hope to win the bidding. Unsurprisingly, that's not really a permanent hurdle - hijacking the winner's ship is the simplest solution.
This Jedi Padawan Fears No Sith
The auction is conducted by the head of the Xrexus Cartel, Boss-Mistress Xev Xrexus herself. While Darth Maul monitors the bidding, his hunters get into place. A short ambush later, and he's free to do what he does best: violence. But as he dispatches each and every member of the previously-victorious gang, he must do so with his hands and feet alone. That's not a problem, for obvious reasons, but it doesn't pass by the notice of Eldra Kaitis. Seeing that her new captor is intentionally holding back his powers (and his lightsaber) reveals exactly why a villainous Force User would need to hide his true identity - he is Sith.
At this point in the story, the Sith have yet to fully unveil their return. But if Maul was hoping that his true power and loyalty would add even more fear and intimidation... he is sorely mistaken. Eldra Kaitis isn't your typical stoic Jedi, and proving that Jedi Padawans embracing action and passion is nothing unique to Skywalkers, Eldra only wants Maul to remove her restraints so that she can deliver the justice he's been longing for himself. All things considered, and given the glimpses behind the scenes of the Jedi Masters in the Star Wars prequels... Eldra Kaitis may be the Jedi least afraid of the Sith we've yet seen.
The Predator Becomes The Prey
Sadly, before Maul and Eldra can cross lightsabers to see whose righteous anger would come out on top, the cargo of their hijacked ship detonates - revealing their control of the situation was part of a larger game. As the ship spirals downward towards a nearby moon in flames, Xev Xrexus watches with satisfaction. She orders that her guests - a collection of the most dangerous, most well-funded, and most morally dubious organized crime syndicates - be informed of "the hunt" about to begin. Presumably, to track down, retrieve, or simply kill those who attempted to undermine her authority.
It's unclear if this entire plot was concocted to create and even more thrilling, and more profitable adventure for the galaxy's criminal community, or if Xev Xrexus is simply improvising. What we do know is that Darth Maul has gone from 'predator' to 'prey' far faster than anyone would have guessed possible - himself included. If the lives of the entire ship's crew are on the line, then it may be enough reason for Cad Bane's bounty hunters to hold off their presumed, inevitably betrayal of Maul. Better still, it might be what's needed to force Darth Maul and Eldra Kaitis into a temporary alliance.
And without a doubt, seeing a Sith Apprentice and a Jedi Padawan join forces is the last thing we expected from this series... and reason enough to stay tuned for Issue #4.
Darth Maul #3 is available now.