The second issue of Star Wars: Age of Republic was recently released, this time focusing on Darth Maul. The series, written by Jody Houser and illustrated by Luke Ross, focuses on a different character from the Republic (prequel) era of Star Wars.
The first issue focused on Qui-Gon Jinn, while this issue focused on Darth Maul. Just like the first one it was set before The Phantom Menace, and it also delved into the Force in a deeper way.
The issue begins with Darth Maul undercover in the lower levels of Coruscant, having donned the name of the padawan he killed, Kaitis (seen in the previous Darth Maul comic series). He does so while in disguise and undercover so that he can investigate Force-sensitive people and then kill them, as he does with Zek Peiro after connecting with him for a supposed job. Maul confirms that Peiro has a touch of the Force, and he realizes that it is just one of another failure of the Jedi Order: that Peiro lives right under them, yet they pay no attention. Maul kills Peiro, but finds that it didn’t satisfy anything within him. Darth Sidious later confronts Maul, however, for his foolish risk-taking. Sidious lectures Maul that in addition to his hate, he must cultivate patience. Maul is eager to destroy the Jedi, though, and he got a taste of that having killed that padawan.
So Sidous takes Maul to Malachor to continue his training, returning to a place he had previously learned much from. Maul breathes in the ashes and has a vision, in which he sees himself as a Jedi. In this vision, Maul defends his people from a raging beast, and later at a dinner the people praise and thank him, commenting on how the Jedi are always right where they need to be and how they are great warriors. Maul, thinking, “I am no Jedi. I am their destruction!”, proceeds to kill them all. When one of the soon-to-be victims asks why, Maul replies, “Because this is what the Jedi are. A lie told to a desperate galaxy. A lie I will end.” But having killed these people, Maul then pictures himself as a Sith… but surrounded by dozens of Jedi who ignite their lightsabers. His vision ends, and as he snaps back to reality Sidious asks him what he has learned. Maul responds, “Rage… it fuels us. But it won’t be enough to stop the Jedi alone. They have numbers on their side. And the faith of the Republic.” Sidious comments that they will soon lose both, and Maul asks his master about these things, thinking that emotions make one strong. “And they do,” Sidious replies. “Patience may run contrary to the passions of a Sith. But if we act without thinking, we will never rise.”
Like the first issue, I very much enjoyed this one and was pleased at how it explored the Force. One thing that I found interesting is that now in each of the first two issues of Age of Republic, the galaxy is portrayed as having believed lies about the Jedi. Qui-Gon Jinn believes this, as does Darth Maul; and while they likely have plenty of different reasons for thinking this, it seems that at the heart of it for both of them (because this aspect is brought up in both issues) is the fact that the Jedi are portrayed as great warriors. I’m interested in seeing whether this trend continues throughout the rest of the series as well.
But moving on to some of the new explorations in this issue, I found it very interesting that the lesson Maul needs to learn is patience. Maul clearly has some trouble grasping this concept, particularly as it relates to the philosophy of the Sith, and Sidious acknowledges that it may seem contradictory. But Maul must nonetheless have patience, because without it the Sith will never rise again. The Jedi had the numbers and had the trust of the Republic, and so in order to defeat them Sidious knew that they could not simply engage the Jedi in combat but work to circumvent those two realities. We obviously know what his plan was that he would put in place, bringing about the Clone Wars to create a level of distrust in the Jedi amongst the Republic, forcing the Jedi to actually embrace the mantle of great warrior, and creating a clone army that could eliminate the numbers. We know too from The Clone Wars show that Maul was very much in on the plan, having been informed about this plan and having been a part of it until his (supposed) untimely death at the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Naboo.
Sidious, then, has patience, and Maul is forced to learn it too. Maul wants to kill Jedi, but they must play the long game if they are ever to truly succeed in bringing back the Sith and eliminating the Jedi. Yet this also allows us another insight into the Sith understanding of the Force. Sidious recognizes that even though a Sith derives his or her strength from emotions, these emotions must be tempered against a strategic plan.