— A Guest Blog by Franklin Taylor
Some stories can not be ignored. After Lucasfilm announced that they would be only canonizing the immoveable stories from Star Wars Universe, and relabeling the rest as Legends, some stories fell into a state of limbo. One of these stories is The Sith Hunters graphic novel. A story created to be another episode in the TV show that was dropped onto the cutting room floor. A story that ties into another Legends story, and contributes wonderful character growth to the overall story. However, this story is unavailable to purchase at this time. The reason is simple. After Dark Horse comics lost the rights to their Star Wars comics, everything was transferred to Marvel comics. Marvel comics in turn rereleased most of the ginormous catalog online, but have not released everything yet. This Lost Connections article will focus on why this story is not to be missed.
First, Henry Gilroy, who wrote “Liberty on Ryloth” on The Clone Wars and “Rise of the Old Masters” on Star Wars Rebels teams up with Steven Melching, who wrote “Rookies” on The Clone Wars and “Wings of the Master” on Star Wars Rebels to create an amazing comic. The art is penciled by Vicenç Villagrasa and inked by Vicente Ibañez, who have only worked on this project in the Star Wars Universe as far as I could find. The art is more storyboard style, with the visuals stylizing the characters to the art style of the show. I could imagine the development time must have been short, as the amount of detail in a few spots is a little too minimal; however, there were still some tremendous looking panels. I did really enjoy the use of colors by Marlon Ilagan. Since there was only so much stuff drawn, the choice of colors really set apart the objects in the panel, and made the action fast and fluid.
**Spoiler warning to the comic**
Now, The Sith Hunters takes place shortly after the events from episode 22 of season 4 of The Clone Wars. Jedi Master Kenobi reports to the Jedi Council about two Sith assassins, Maul and Savage Opress, allying together. The leaders of the council agree to form a task force, led by Kenobi and Plo Koon, to hunt them down. Meanwhile, the Sith assassins take refuge in a snow world to gather their focus, after slaughtering the thugs in a nearby seedy establishment. By the Force, they discover a starved female from a prestigious trading guild, who had been betrayed by her brother, and left to rot after a misleading kidnapping. After being promised riches, Maul and Savage take her to her home on Pleem’s Nexus, but not before the Jedi attempt to apprehend them. With part of the Jedi task force dead or injured, Obi-Wan brings Anakin into the mix to help, while Plo Koon leads the remaining Jedi hot on the heels of the two self-appointed Sith Lords. Back at home, Maul’s damsel in distress reclaims her position in the trade guild after her treacherous brother takes ill to a slight case of lightsaber to the chest. Maul and Savage cashing in on their bounty get interrupted by the Jedi task force. After more Jedi casualties, Maul and Savage narrowly escape, without the bounty to continue to plot their revenge.
Throughout the story, Maul is beginning to mentor Savage Oppress. While massacring the thugs in Yellowblade’s Landing, Savage attempts to let one of them go to warn others to stay away. In later episodes of The Clone Wars, we see Maul officially appoint Savage as his apprentice, but what this story does is set up the foundation. Maul has only recently been reborn, but echoes his former focus, before his fall on Naboo. The leap from crazed Sith arachnid to calculated leader of destruction and death could not simply be done from a little TLC from Mother Talzin. No, there is a need to show a transition of his character.
What works out great in this comic is the battle of wills between the two brothers. Maul is quick to size up his brother’s lack of focus. He even calls his brother out, when he says, “…Whoever trained you didn’t seem concerned about your lack of discipline. I believe they wanted a monster they could turn loose. A crude, expendable assassin.”
By the end of the comic, one of Maul’s lessons of patience sinks into Savage Opress as they make their escape from the Jedi. During earlier episodes in The Clone Wars, Savage failed miserably to listen to Ventress and Dooku, when it came to patience, but quickly falls into trusting the wisdom of his brother. This sets forth a bond that the later episodes imply.
Now, one of the best visuals in this comic is the two nightmares that Maul suffers through, as he is reliving the events after his defeat from Obi-Wan Kenobi. The first one takes place as the Jedi contemplate how he could have survived, while the reader is shown Maul falling down the reactor shaft. Kenobi makes a point that Maul’s rage and knowledge of the dark side was the most likely reason his was able to stay alive, but also comments, “…It is not impossible that ‘other forces’ contributed to Maul’s survival.” From there the reader is shown how Maul was shipped off planet, with his lightsaber. While in flight, Maul wakes up cursing Kenobi’s name. A name he spends over ten years channeling in his desire to live long enough to destroy. However, after so many years of focus, Maul can’t simply kill Kenobi, like what was shown in the episode preceding the comic. No, such mercy would not justify Maul’s existence.
The second nightmare takes place, during a conversation between Anakin and Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. This scene was something I wanted to see so desperately on the show, and it delivers some splendidly devious dialog. Anakin gets to break the news about Maul’s return, and the reader is given more visuals of how Maul was dropped off on the garbage planet.
In the movies, we are to assume that Palpatine had been slowly manipulating Anakin. We rarely see Palpatine as a support system, but this comic gives us a glimpse at that. Aside from debating the importance of the Sith’s return, the best comment Palpatine makes to Anakin is at the end. Palpatine states, “Perhaps I should study the Sith, Anakin, to better understand the threat you’re facing. All I ask, my friend, is that you be careful. May the force be with you.” This line is Palpatine secretly molding Anakin, with another layer to his fog of lies, as he pretends to want to learn more about how to protect him.
Finally, at the end of the comic, after Maul and Savage narrowly escape from the clutches of the Jedi, they leave in a unique ship. A ship that shows up in the Legends comic Death Sentence that Maul and Savage pilot. This is important as it connects the two stories together. In another post, I will break down the importance to that comic to the overall journey of Maul. It is just amazing to see the continuity of the stories to the TV show.
In conclusion, The Sith Hunters is a story about that should not be missed. The bond of Maul and Savage begins to grow in this comic. The connective tissues so strong to The Clone Wars and Death Sentence. The rare glimpse of Palpatine manipulating Anakin. A comic written by two wonderful people who are still contributing to the franchise, who were guided by Dave Filoni and Katie Lucas. Hopefully, this comic will be rereleased in the future, as die-hard The Clone Wars fans don’t want to miss out!Powered by Sidelines