Star Wars: The High Republic: Trail of Shadows #1 review!

A new Star Wars comic set in The High Republic era launched recently, the five-part mystery mini-series Trail of Shadows.

The series, written by Daniel José Older, sees Jedi investigator Emerick Caphtor and private detective Sian Holt teaming up to investigate a very mysterious and dangerous threat to the Jedi and the Republic. The first issue released recently, and it’s fantastic! Let’s dive in to the review – and as always, full spoilers are ahead!

SUMMARY:

We pick it up as Loden Greatstorm is turned to dust at the Battle of Grizal, with Bell Zettifar and the other Jedi in shock, mourning, and fear. As we see these heartwrenching scenes, the words of a nursery rhyme echo through the pages: “Shrii Ka Rai Ka Rai … We’re coming to take you away.” Later, back on Coruscant, Jedi High Council Member Stellan Gios enlists the help of Jedi Master Emerick Caphtor, the best investigator in the Jedi Order, to find out what happened. Emerick is skeptical, but even he can’t ignore the fact that Stellan is shaken and afraid – and maybe most of all, desperate.

Stellan has the nursery song on his mind, and Emerick’s droid also begins singing it. Emerick doesn’t like it, as it reminds him of the song Stellan and Emerick would hear growing up, one that evoked fear. Stellan sends Emerick with a team of Troopers to Vrant Taurum, the location of a small Nihil base discovered shortly before the attack at the Republic Fair. Emerick agrees and sets off, still skeptical about what he wound find. He and the soldiers do indeed find a Nihil base and meet resistance, but are able to defeat the enemy forces.

Meanwhile, on Level 1347, private detective Sian Holt searches for her friend Keefar Branto. She tracks him to an alley, where she discovers that Keefar has apparently gotten himself into some kind of trouble. The two of them wind up being chased by an intimidating-looking alien, who fires and hits them. Just as he’s about to strike and kill Sian, she fires her blaster at him, presumably killing him.

Between these two events, Emerick realizes that everything actually is connected, as he approaches the cave the Nihil had been defending, one of significance, one that had recently had a section removed – and one that has inscribed on it the very same nursery rhyme.

REVIEW:

I thought this issue was absolutely fantastic. It’s engaging and compelling, offering a fresh take on The High Republic while staying very interconnected to the era overall. We’re only one-fifth of the way through this story, but I could definitely see it becoming one of my favorites from the era so far.

The way it connected with The Rising Storm is tremendous, and it meant we had to re-live the harrowing events on Grizal and actually see this time what happened to Loden. It’s heartbreaking, and it is evident that the Jedi are rattled. Stellan Gios is the one we see in this issue, as he’s trying to get Emerick to investigate what happened. We know more about the Great Leveler than the Jedi do, and even we don’t know much. But we know that it’s a creature of some sort that can apparently turn even one of the greatest Jedi to dust.

And what this does is strike fear in the heart of the Jedi who witnessed it. Fear is a theme running throughout the issue, particularly centered around a haunting nursery rhyme. It’s one that was apparently told to Jedi when they were children, one they have come to associate with fear (and who wouldn’t, given a nursery rhyme about people coming to take you away?). This actually first appeared in Cavan Scott’s audio drama Tempest Runner, and here it takes center stage. And the mystery surrounding it continues to grow. Why is it on Gios’s mind? Why is it that the song, as Stellan remembers later, ends with “dust”? And most of all, why is it that the lyrics are inscribed on the cave that the Nihil are at? There’s something very mysterious, and probably sinister, going on here.

The fact that this is really a mystery story told in the Star Wars universe is great and quite a refreshing look at the universe, and we get to see a Jedi Master who is an investigator. I really love that, and the whole intrigue of it has me desperate to read more.

We also are introduced to Sian Holt in this issue, and while she runs into trouble of her own, we don’t yet know how this story connects to the other – only that it does. And we know that because of this, Holt and Emerick will team up as the story goes on.

I’m a huge fan of this story. It’s harrowing and mysterious, and it offers a very compelling introduction to what figures to be a fantastic, and very significant, story in the High Republic era!

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