Published: October 13, 2021
Writer: Daniel José Older
Penciler: David Wachter
Colourist: Giada Marchisio
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Cover Artist: David Lopez
JEDI KNIGHT AND PRIVATE EYE TEAM UP TO UNCOVER A MYSTERY THAT WILL CHANGE THE HIGH REPUBLIC FOREVER! A Jedi Master is dead. Another is in a state of complete shock. It’s a murder the likes of which the Jedi Order has never seen before. There are no leads. There are no suspects. There is no motive. But Jedi Investigator EMERICK CAPHTOR must solve the case before it’s too late. The fate of the Jedi, the Hutts, the Nihil and everyone in the galaxy, hangs by this tangled thread of lies and deceit. Emerick will need to dive into the darkness, testing himself and his Jedi ideals like never before. He’ll need help. Luckily, Private Eye SIAN HOLT lives in the dark. Together, they’ll follow this trail of shadows wherever it leads. If they can work together, that is.
Back-to-back like any good detecting duo, Sian and Emerick look incredible making their debut on Lopez’s direct cover. The watercolour style has muted tones that lend themselves so well to this genre, and it just looks amazing. Anindito and Rosenburg’s variant is an incredibly posed shot that screams action, whilst Tedesco’s is kind of what CSI might look like Star Wars style, with its bokeh lights and blueish tint. With a new type of story to tell, they all usher in a new dawn for Star Wars literature.
Trail of Shadows rests underneath the mantle of the High Republic, but for the first time in modern Star Wars literature, it is bringing a mystery noir storyline. This is obviously exciting and opens up an entirely new part of the galaxy, from investigators to forensics droids, along with a whole cast of new characters. Daniel José Older is the one weaving this whodunnit together and be warned – do not read this series if you haven’t read The Rising Storm by Cavan Scott. Just don’t do that if you don’t want major, space-station sized spoilers.
A Jedi lies dead. Murdered by the terrible Nihil who are inciting fear and chaos across the galaxy. But how did it happen? How could a Master, strong with the Force, be cut down so ruthlessly? No one knows. At least not yet. Back on Coruscant, Stellan Gios asks Jedi investigator Emerick Caphtor to uncover the truth of this mystery, especially before it can happen again. For something that can strike down a Jedi, and strike fear into the Order, is something no one wants to face unprepared…
Older doesn’t rein in his punches with this comic. Trail of Shadows #1 begins with a body, like most murder mysteries, and for those who have read The Rising Storm then prepare to get your heart shattered all over again. If you thought losing a Jedi on page was heart wrenching, then seeing it in a comic panel is worse. However, it sets the scene and the stakes for this entire plot and the rawness of the emotion captured by Wachter’s artwork in this moment is just so real.
While it may have a dramatic opening this is a mystery story, so the plot is thoughtful and contemplative. Much like investigator Emerick himself. Fans have seen normal Jedi investigate things, especially during the Clone Wars but a Jedi specifically for the role is something entirely new. Emerick is already interesting in only a few pages as Older includes his internal monologue, which gives real insight into how he uses the Force to guide his questioning and clue searching. It will be fascinating to see how this works more in future issues. Plus, he has an adorable sidekick in the form of little droid Q-2, who’s the same model as BD-1 from Jedi: Fallen Order.
Unsurprisingly the plot ties in a lot with previous High Republic literature, not just The Rising Storm, and Emerick’s search takes him to Vrant Tarnum, a revered Nihil stronghold. There’s a haunting theme that flows throughout Trail of Shadows which leads up to Emerick discovering the source on this planet and let’s just say it makes for a perfect, spooky October read. This is a gritty, creepy Star Wars story and Older has balanced it so well.
Wachter’s amazing artwork then brings everything together, and his style suits the genre perfectly. There’s a real classic noir sense to it, with lots of shadows cast on and by the characters. As the story is very character-driven too then most of the panels reflect this with close-ups and portrait shots. There’s not a ton of action to this first issue, but when there is there’s plenty of motion lines and dynamic poses. Interestingly Emerick fights with a yellow lightsaber, which in the Legends era signified a diplomat and peacekeeper, so that actually fits very well with his character.
Older has set the scene of the crime and now it’s all about solving the case. Trail of Shadows #1 will leave fans with a lot of questions and answers will probably come slowly issue by issue. There are clues to be found here by sleuthing readers but in the words of Emerick himself, it’s going to get a lot worse in Trail of Shadows #2!
Star Wars: The high Republic – Trail of Shadows #1 is the first issue of a 5 part mini-series that was published on October 13, 2021 by Marvel Comics. This issue is available via The Marvel App and from all good comic book stores and retails at $3.99.