Star Wars has a hard time expanding its scope. The franchise ostensibly supports a massive open universe of endless possibilities, but it tends to fall back on the same handful of familiar names and faces. Darth Maul provides an interesting example by dying in his first appearance before being brought back to live on forever in external material. His evil gang, the Shadow Collective, brought him into contact with the Mandalorians.
In their cultural presence, Maul and the Mandalorians have a lot in common. Both were introduced as incidental background details of their first project before being venerated by fans and gradually centralized by the story. In the Star Wars universe, anything is possible with a good enough visual design.
What is the Shadow Collective?
The Shadow Collective is a supergroup of galactic organized crime led by the rogue Sith Maul. After Maul was cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi, he abandoned his duties as Darth Sidious's apprentice. Instead, Maul sets out on his own for fortune and power. Maul created a new set of legs while hiding in the bowels of a nearby planet. His brother, Savage Oppress, gave him a new purpose. His first outing with a group of pirates went up in flames, leaving Maul and his brother to start a new team. Maul created the Shadow Collective to oppose both sides of the Clone Wars and eventually unseat Sidious as the primary leader of the galaxy. Those are pretty lofty goals, but Maul gathered the support of every ill-intentioned group he could contact to get the job done.
Maul and Savage Oppress were discovered by Pre Vizsla, the leader of the Mandalorian terrorist cell known as Death Watch. Vizsla's ancestor was Tarre Vizsla, the first Mandalorian Jedi. Vizsla sought a return to the old ways of Mandalore. He planned to overthrow Satine Kryze's pacifist regime. Maul forms the Shadow Collective by recruiting from multiple other crime syndicates. Maul brokers deals with the Black Sun, the Pyke Syndicate, and even the Hutt Clan. Behind Maul's power, his mother, Talzin, provided guidance. This gave Maul access to the army of his people, the Nightbrothers. With Viszla's ambitions, an army of criminals, and a former Sith at the helm, the Shadow Collective was a force to be reckoned with.
What did the Shadow Collective Accomplish?
Pre Vizsla's goal of conquering Mandalore was no easy task. Even after converting to pacifism, the Mandalorians were the most intimidating race of warriors in the galaxy. A full invasion was out of the question, even with a million armed criminals at their disposal. Instead, Vizsla and Maul arranged a strategy to win the hearts and minds of the people. Maul's band of assembled criminals would attack Mandalorian civilians, destroy property, and cause chaos in the streets. Vizsla provided the Zabrak brothers with a list of targets to threaten and assault. This undermined confidence in Satine Kryze's leadership and the policy of peace that had kept them safe for so long. Once the Mandalorians were afraid, Vizsla and his Death Watch soldiers would sell themselves as their heroes. During a public speech, Vizsla took the throne with the full support of the people. Pre Vizsla's goal was accomplished, but that wasn't the end of the Shadow Collective.
Maul always saw Mandalore as a stepping stone to his eventual larger ambitions. As such, he was a liability to Vizsla as soon as the planet was theirs. Vizsla betrayed Maul and Savage, throwing them into prison. Maul developed a scheme to reclaim power. After Vizsla recruited or executed every politician in Satine's old cabinet, Maul approached the former Prime Minister, Almec. Maul challenged Vizsla to single combat and easily killed the Mandalorian warrior. With that, he established himself as the planet's new leader and allowed Almec to hold the seat as a figurehead.
What Happened to the Shadow Collective?
Maul held Mandalore for a long time. Maul eventually drew the ire of his former master. Sidious attacked Maul and Savage as the Mandalorians rebelled against the Sith leadership. Maul was captured, and Savage was killed. Sidious and Count Dooku tortured Maul's mother's location out of him, then destroyed her and her people. Multiple crime syndicates pulled out of the collective. Sidious's separatists obliterated the Shadow Collective, forcing the leaders to go into hiding. Eventually, the Crimson Dawn joined the Collective, giving Maul a new team to lead after he escaped captivity again.
The Shadow Collective was one of the most theoretically powerful groups in the Star Wars franchise, but their influence proved insufficient to resist the might of the Force. Maul has the potential to be a fascinating character. A dedicated villain who loses his place in the grand scheme and decides to go into business for himself is always more engaging than a taciturn minion. The Shadow Collective brings many fan-favorite elements of the franchise together for one violent run on Mandalore and a short career of crime. Their reach exceeded their grasp, but it's hard to fault them for trying.