The third issue of the Trail of Shadows mini-series recently released, furthering the Jedi and Republic joint investigation into the Nihil’s mystery weapon just as Marchion Ro closes in on the Nihil traitor.
This was the third of five issues, meaning we are now over halfway through the story! I’m expecting it to only continue to pick up momentum from here as we start to get more answers and clarity – but for now, let’s jump into our spoiler-filled review of issue #3!
Emerick Caphtor and Sian Holt talk with Stellan Gios about the latest developments in their investigation: Dr. Uttersond is betraying the Nihil and trying to sell very dangerous weaponry. The crew decides that finding out more information is more important at the moment than stopping Uttersond. Meanwhile, Marchion Ro talks with Uttersond via hologram, mentioning reports of a Tarnab named Arathab Fal murdering some Nihil. Upon ending the call, Ro dispatches some of his men to follow Uttersond, as Ro doesn’t trust him.
As Emerick and Stellan listen to Sian perform the same musical number that’s been haunting them, they are suddenly called back to the Starlight Beacon immediately because of another attack. Aboard the Starlight, the crew is brought up to speed on the state of Terec and Ceret, who are alive but in grave condition after being attacked by the same horror that killed Loden Greatstorm. Keeve Trennis is unable to really articulate what happened, and afterward as Emerick and Sian try to piece together what this mystery weapon might be, they speculate that it could be a chemical agent – which causes Stellan to erupt with anger, saying that he was there and that it wasn’t a hallucination. He later apologizes, but it is clear that what happened has rattled him – just as it has the other Jedi. Avar Kriss arrives and meets Stellan, causing Emerick and Sian to leave, sensing the complicated relationship between the two. Emerick shows Sian around the Starlight, and she picks up on his apparent feelings for Keeve, comforting him that caring for people is part of being human.
While all of this happens, Uttersond’s ship comes under attack from a ship with a Nihil path engine, and Arathab Fal emerges, fighting the Nihil. But it is Uttersond that winds up killing some of them too… only to discover Marchion Ro’s ship has arrived. “We were so close” he says to Arathab. As Ro’s forces board the ship and discover the Nihil murdered, they then find Uttersond barely alive but badly wounded. They ask Ro if he wants them to finish the Dr. off, but Ro says they need him alive for now for the information he might be able to provide about the Nihil traitor.
One of the things that really stood out to me about this issue was how the Jedi are haunted by whatever this mysterious weapon is, and that it’s made even worse by the fact they don’t even know what it is. The descriptions they do have – Bell Zettifar said it was “a darkness with hundreds of teeth,” Elzar Mann saw only a blur, and Keeve saw a “giant monster” – make it very hard for Emerick and Sian to put it all together. We see Keeve frightened and saddened, being comforted by Emerick. We see Stellan erupt with uncharacteristic anger (especially notable for a member of the Jedi High Council) when the investigators question whether it is actually a living creature. And we see Ram Jomaram racing other Padawans through the hallways as a way to let off some steam. Whatever this thing is, it has the Jedi on edge.
And this thing is the biggest driver of the whole comic, which works really well because we as the reader don’t know what it is either. It seems like it’s a creature, but we don’t have much more information besides that. So we too are in the dark, just like the Jedi are. Which means we too are learning as this mini-series goes along just like the Jedi are, which is fantastic. I just hope that this series actually gives us some real answers, as I hope there are actually significant stakes and revelations in store about whatever this weapon actually is. We’re only through three of five issues so I’m definitely NOT complaining about how the story has gone so far; rather I’m simply saying that with all of this build up, I hope there are answers that don’t make it feel like a let down.
The other note about the Jedi, before jumping over to talking about the Nihil, is that this issue plays up the idea of attachments, hinting numerous times at Stellan’s relationship with Avar. We get a glimpse as to how Emerick views this, and it seems like it’s not exactly a secret amongst some of the other Jedi (in the way that, say, Anakin and Padmé were). But even Emerick appears to have some feelings for Keeve, which Sian picks up on. One of the things that the High Republic has done really well (and there are many!) is show us how this era of Jedi views attachment, which seems much healthier than the ideology of the Jedi during the prequel trilogy. And with how much of a focus that has taken in this second wave in particular, I’m expecting there to be a significant payoff – whether through rewarding joy or heartbreaking sorrow – soon.
But now let’s jump over to the Nihil, and I loved seeing Marchion Ro in this issue, and seeing him without his armor. In fact, we get a shot of him standing atop his ship, apparently in space, which is pretty epic. Uttersond has something he wants, and Ro orders the Dr. to bring it to him – but Ro doesn’t trust Uttersond. The implication is that Ro suspects Uttersond is a traitor but doesn’t know for sure, and I suppose that’s the same place we are in – although this issue and the previous one does seem to make it pretty clear that he’s working with the Tarnab on some plan of sorts. We just don’t know what that is.
This issue didn’t really put the Jedi any closer to discovering the answers, but I loved how it gave so much time to them discussing things amongst themselves, and I especially loved how it tied directly in with The High Republic comic series with what happened with Terec and Ceret! Another one of the things I love about the High Republic is how all of the stories seem so significant and so inter-connected, and this is a brilliant example of it. It’s super rewarding for those of us who read all of the stories and try to keep up with all of it. But this issue also furthered the intrigue with Uttersond, Fal, and the Nihil, with Marchion Ro personally involved and closing in on the Nihil traitor. With two issues left, this series continues to tell a compelling and intriguing mystery thriller. I’m really enjoying it.