Newsarama Note: In initial communications from Dark Horse on behalf of Lucasfilm, Dark Horse informed us this was the series finale of the Clone Wars being adapted to comics. Dave Filoni of Lucasfilm animation, and showrunner of Clone Wars, has released a statement clarifying that while this is the end of Maul's story on the show, it is not the finale. We have his full statement here.
The ending of Star Wars’ Clone Wars is shrouded in mystery, both in-story and in real life. In March 2013 Lucasfilm announced that the long-running animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars would be cut short, robbing fans of the intended finale of that CGI series. Since then, various personnel at Lucasfilm have talked about potential outlets the final episodes’ story could be told, either as televised episodes, online content, or possibly a DVD release. But now in an exclusive to Newsarama, Lucasfilm has told us the finale to one of the biggest Star Wars: The Clone Wars character archs is being told as a comic launching this May. This doesn’t preclude the fully produced episodes from still airing somehow, but does let fans jump right to the ending and the unproduced final arc.
In this last year of Lucasfilm’s epic decades-long partnership with Dark Horse Comics, the Oregon-based publisher will be releasing a four-part limited series titled Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir that will adapt the screenplays for what would have been the final Darth Maul story of Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. Written by seasoned Star Wars comics scribe (and former editor) Jeremy Barlow with an artist to be announced, Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir sees the full-scale return of Darth Maul to the Star Wars universe and into a head-to-head battle with his former master Darth Sidious – aka, the Emperor. Barlow promises to fully delve into the world of Dathomir, as well as some of its inhabitants like Nightbrothers and even a new character called Brother Viscus. Barlow spoke exclusively to Newsarama in our “Galaxy Far Away” Star Wars column.
Newsarama: This is a story that many fans, including myself, thought we’d never see. What can you tell us about this upcoming comic miniseries?
Jeremy Barlow: Due to the Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV show’s sudden cancelation, Lucasfilm wasn’t able to film the final episodes of the series, which is a shame because the story is an important — and action-packed — chapter in Darth Maul’s continuing evolution as envisioned by George Lucas.
Never ones to let a good story slip away, Dark Horse and the team at Lucasfilm saw an opportunity to save these teleplays from obsolescence and we’re adapting them into a four-part miniseries called Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir.
Nrama: Although there are many fans of the Star Wars: The Clone Warsshow, I know some of the people reading this weren't able to get up to speed on them. For those coming in fresh, how would you explain the set-up leading into this miniseries?
Barlow: We’re making these as new-reader-friendly as possible, understanding that some folks will be coming to this series without prior knowledge of the television show. All you need to know is that Darth Maul has returned, that he’s really pissed off, and that his former master Darth Sidious is determined to put him back in the ground, permanently.
Beyond that, Maul now serves a Dathomir Witch named Mother Talzin and together they’ve raised a ragtag army of hired soldiers and criminals, causing all kinds of trouble for Sidious’ plans for galactic conquest. There have been victories and losses for both sides, and as we come into Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir, Sidious has captured Maul and stashed him away on a remote prison planet made of obsidian. How cool is that?
Nrama: Pretty cool. Darth Maul is known to people from the movies as squarely a bad guy -- but the Star Wars: The Clone Wars cartoon and this series looks to be putting him in a new light. Can you explain what's happened to Darth Maul since Episode I, briefly?
Barlow: It’s safe to say that no one expected Maul to come back — that goes for everyone in the Star Wars galaxy, as well. Obviously, his final scene in The Phantom Menace wasn’t the end of him. He lived through being cut in half and dropped down the chute, survived on his own hate, and was restored by dark forces on Dathomir.
But he returns to a galaxy that’s moved on without him. His master, Darth Sidious, has chosen a replacement, and the Jedi have bigger problems on their hands, so he’s yesterday’s news, which only fuels Maul’s rage. He’s out for revenge on everyone and everything, and against all odds he builds an army and comes back roaring.
Still, he’s an underdog in this fight — up against the Republic, the Separatists, the Jedi, and the Sith — with only his patchwork military and his own determination. He’ll discover that those elements still might not be enough, though.
Nrama: Star Wars stories aren't just solo tales -- the universe offers a multitude of characters and races to play with here. Who are the other characters involved here you haven't yet touched on?
Barlow: Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir’s supporting cast is a lot of fun. Maul has amassed this army of mercenaries, cut throats, and criminals—some really colorful characters—and while they’re intimidated by Maul’s strength and his audacity, their convictions aren’t as solid. Their very nature makes them an untrustworthy bunch, which Maul learns the hard way.
We also meet more of the Nightbrothers — Maul’s brutal cohorts from Dathomir — and spend some time with a scary dude called Brother Viscus. These guys are wild and a lot of fun.
Nrama: And places -- oh the places Star Warscan go. What are the primary locales for this story?
Barlow: That’s one of my favorite aspects of writing Star Wars—there’s no end to the varied and imaginative locations you can create.
In this story, we start at that secret prison carved out of massive obsidian blocks and from there we bounce to the harsh moon of Zanbar, hit the Black Sun stronghold on Ord Mantell, and finally make our way to Dathomir, which is as dark and dangerous a place as you can get.
Nrama: You're well known as a writer and former editor of various Star Warscomics at Dark Horse. How did you get involved to do this series?
Barlow: Randy Stradley invited me aboard. It’s been a while since we’ve worked together—since The Enemy Within a couple of years ago—and this project seemed like a good fit. This is an adaptation of an existing storyline, so a big part of this series’ process required sharp editing skills and making judicious choices about how to keep as much of the screenplays intact as possible while still giving the comics their own exciting and natural flow. So I brought that to the table, as well.
Nrama: Obviously the optimum plan for these stories was for it to be among the final episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but things happened to prevent that. How do you feel about being the one to help these stories see the light of day?
Barlow: It’s really flattering. I’m being trusted with bringing home an important storyline that George Lucas, Dave Filoni and the team at Lucasfilm Animation had been building over several seasons, and I appreciate the confidence that Dark Horse and Lucasfilm have in my ability to pull it off. I’m a lucky guy.