The second issue of the mystery mini-series Trail of Shadows recently came out, showing the investigation by the Republic and Jedi really getting started.
The series is written by Daniel José Older and spans five issues, so we’re just getting started. It deals with the Republic and Jedi investigating what happened at the Republic Fair, what happened to Loden Greatstorm, and what the Nihil are up to. So it’s really a Star Wars mystery thriller, which is awesome, and it feels like it is telling a really significant story for this first phase of the High Republic project.
Let’s dive into our spoiler-filled review of the second issue of this series!
In the aftermath of the attacks on the Republic Fair, Jedi Master Emerick Caphtor searches for clues, while private investigator Sian Holt mourns the death of her friend Keefar Branto. Both of them wrestle with fear, and both of them are summoned to meet with Supreme Chancellor Lina Soh. The Chancellor introduces the two and requests that they work together, as their cases may be related. The Chancellor says that Emerick’s case might have something to do with Keefar’s death, revealing that Keefar had actually been working undercover for the Republic when he was killed – unbeknownst to Sian.
Soh tells them that Keefar was meeting Arathalo Fal, a wanted murderer who claims to be in the upper ranks of the Nihil – and who is trying to sell an expensive and dangerous weapon on the black market for months. Fal was the alien who attacked Sian and Keefar, and he disappeared after that – but was recently spotted by another undercover Republic agent on Efavan, Vorzyd V. Fal confronts a Pau’an, demanding to know if he’s in or not. The Pau’an makes a few demands, which causes Fal to contact his boss. At that moment, Nihil storm into the room… but later, in an alley, Fal talks with someone on his comlink, wondering how the Nihil found them.
Emerick and Sian soon arrive on the planet, having a tenable yet working partnership. They show up to the crime scene, claiming to be with Efavan major crimes and talking their way into the building. They find the Pau’an has been brutally murdered, and the two investigators quickly piece together what happened: there was a firefight, and a creature with claws killed the man, but seemed surprised by the arrival of others; so the creature fired back and escaped through the window. It is then that an officer informs them about an incident a few blocks away, where the Nihil are being stalked by Arathalo Fal and killed one-by-one. Emerick and Sian arrive, with Emerick using the Force to clear away the fog and Sian using her blaster to kill the remaining Nihil fighter. They spot Fal trying to get away, but Emerick’s droid, Cue, installs a tracker on the speeder bike. They track him and Emerick patches Stellan in to witness the scene: Arathalo Fal stands towering over another fearful alien, and Emerick says, “I believe, Stellan, that we are looking at the mastermind behind all the mayhem.”
There are two parallel stories that wind up converging in this issue. The first pertains to the joint Jedi and Republic investigation, and the other pertains to this mysterious Tarnab who allegedly is working with the Nihil.
The main driver here is the investigation, as after introducing us to the characters in the first issue the second issue introduces the characters to each other, with Emerick and Sian being enlisted by the Supreme Chancellor to work together. I’m interested to see how the Jedi and Republic work together on something like this, since getting entangled in the government too deeply is something the Jedi need to be cautious of. But in light of what happened at the Republic Fair, and in light of what happened to Loden Greatstorm, it makes sense that Chancellor Soh would want to get to the bottom of it immediately, and as such to put some of the best investigators on the job. This comes alongside the revelation that Keefar was actually working for the Republic on a top secret mission, though I’m not sure if that will wind up being as significant for us as the reader or whether it will mainly serve as the driver for Sian to get involved with the investigation in the first place. We shall see.
I also like seeing hints of how Emerick and Sian approach these things differently, as Sian insists Emerick can’t just walk in with his Jedi robes. It seems that Emerick is used to leveraging his position as a Jedi to carry his investigations, while Sian sees the need to remain undercover – particularly in an investigation of this sort. Yet when it comes time to fight against the Nihil, Emerick steps up and takes the lead in fending them off. I hope we see more about how a Jedi and a non-Jedi work together to investigate these matters – and how they might not always think of approaching it the same way. But I also want to see them work together well, so it’s a fine balance.
The other parallel story pertains to Arathab Fal, who the Republic believes to be working with the Nihil. Yet as they close in on him, we realize that he’s surprised the Nihil found him and he actually the one killing the Nihli, and the issue ends with him having captured Dr. Uttersond. Emerick tells Stellan that they’re looking at the mastermind behind it all, but it’s unclear whether he means Arathab or Uttersond. My read on it is that Arathab is not exactly who the Republic thinks he is, and he’s wanting to get to the bottom of things as well. I don’t think he’s working with the Nihil, contrary to what the Republic thinks, but he does seem to be involved in this whole thing in some way, as there’s a mysterious storyline surrounding him.
This was another good issue, showing us the team-up between the investigators who will drive this story forward while giving us further clues and intrigue into what’s actually going on with the Nihil.