Exclusive: Cullen Bunn Talks Marvel’s Darth Maul Series – Plus a First Look at New Variant Covers

StarWars.com delves into the dark side with the writer of Marvel's upcoming series.

Maul (no longer Darth) has done pretty well for himself since Obi-Wan Kenobi sent him tumbling down a Naboo generator core. He’s discovered (and lost) a brother, built (and lost) a vast criminal empire, and now in Star Wars Rebels has gone back to his original goal: revenge. But there are still parts of Maul’s life that we’ve never seen before. And that’s about to change.

In a new five-issue miniseries, Star Wars: Darth Maul from writer Cullen Bunn and artist Luke Ross, Marvel Comics will explore the former Sith’s early years in a story set before Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. StarWars.com spoke with Bunn about what we can expect from this peek into Maul’s past, which kicks off February 1 with the release of issue #1.

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Exclusive reveal: Movie variant cover.

StarWars.com: Tell us about Darth Maul.

Cullen Bunn: This series takes place shortly before the events of The Phantom Menace. We’re following Darth Maul at a point when his anxiousness, his impatience, and his thirst for vengeance against the Jedi is at an all-time high.

He’s growing frustrated. He’s been taught to hate the Jedi. He’s been trained to kill them. But his master, Darth Sidious, has told him to bide his time, to keep himself hidden. This is driving Maul crazy, so we see him venting his anger by testing his skills against some of the nastiest creatures and cutthroats in the galaxy. During one of his missions, though, he learns something of interest. A powerful crime lord has captured a Jedi Padawan, and only a few people know about it.

Maul sees this as an opportunity to test his mettle against those he hates, so he sets out to find this Jedi. He has to operate in secret, though, because his master would not approve.

StarWars.com: What made the timeframe before the events of The Phantom Menace the best place to tell this story?

Cullen Bunn: The setting gives us a chance to see Maul in a new light. We don’t know much about him in before the events of The Phantom Menace. This lets us explore a different side of his personality and add some important new events and characters into his backstory.

In addition, the pre-Phantom Menace galaxy has a different feel and tone from what you’ve seen in the other Marvel comics, so that helped to set this book apart.

StarWars.com: Maul’s journey has revealed him to be many things. He’s been an attack dog, a broken man, and currently in Star Wars Rebels, he’s someone desperately searching for validation. Who is he in your story?

Cullen Bunn: I wanted to show a man with all of the aspects you describe. In The Phantom Menace, we saw him as a chained beast, pacing angrily as he waited to murder Jedi, but we really only glimpsed a small part of his personality.

In later iterations, he showed how cunning and devious he could be, and we saw hints of grief and loss and even guilt. I figure those things were all part of his personality, and I wanted to depict a well-rounded Maul in this series. He’s younger than he was in any of his on-screen appearances, but there are still shades of the man he will become.

StarWars.com: What can you tell us about Maul’s relationship with Darth Sidious?

Cullen Bunn: The relationship between a Sith Master and apprentice is not a kind one. We’ll see a bit of contentiousness between the two. Maul is railing against the edicts his master has put before him. Sidious is taking delight in seeing these rules make Maul more and more angry, more powerful in the dark side of the Force.

But this is a story about a student rebelling against a very cruel teacher. I feel like this tale helps to shape everything that happens between Sidious and Maul from this point forward.

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Exclusive reveal: Action figure variant by John Tyler Christopher.

StarWars.com: The design aesthetic of the prequel trilogy, particularly The Phantom Menace, is vastly different than later Star Wars stories. Has that influenced the writing/art for the series? 

Cullen Bunn: Definitely. As I said earlier, the time period affords this series a different look and tone. I wanted to show off several locations that would have fit well into the prequel trilogy. We’ll be visiting some familiar locales as well as some new places in the Star Wars galaxy.

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Exclusive reveal: 40th anniversary variant by Terry and Rachel Dodson.

StarWars.com: What’s the one thing you want fans to take away from this series?

Cullen Bunn: I want readers to have a much better, much deeper understanding of what makes Maul tick. I want readers to fear him, respect him, and even feel a little pity for him.

Justin Bolger is Lucasfilm’s Star Wars social media strategist and he doesn’t like the Empire… he loves it. Catch him occasionally on The Star Wars After Show and talk Star Wars with him on Twitter @TheApexFan.

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