Comic Review – Events Take a Turn for the Worse in “Star Wars: The High Republic – Trail of Shadows” #4

Much like franchise creator George Lucas, author Daniel José Older has proven himself capable of telling both Star Wars stories that I really enjoy and ones that I don’t care for quite as much. Fortunately, the Marvel Comics miniseries Star Wars: The High Republic – Trail of Shadows has been falling into the former category, and the penultimate issue #4 (out today) continues that trend of quality.

Trail of Shadows #4 opens on what I can only assume is the Chadra-Fan homeworld of Chad, where Dr. Kisma Uttersond returns home to his family to deliver supplies, but not for long– he’s about to set out on a task to betray his employers, the ruthless marauders known as the Nihil. But another Chadra-Fan tasked with spying on Uttersond stows away on his ship undetected.

Meanwhile on Coruscant, private investigator Sian Holt and Jedi Master Emerick Caphtor bide their time as they wait for reports to come in from the many contacts and informants they have out in the field regarding their probe into some recent mysterious Jedi deaths. So when they get a signal from Beesar, the stowaway Chadra-fan, they spring into action with a small squadron of Republic starfighters. Aboard the Nihil vessel, Uttersond eliminates one of his oppressors, but Caphtor boards before he can put his true plan into motion. Caphtor is immediately incapacitated by the strange creature– kept in a locked crate– that’s been killing the Jedi, so Beesar tries to help out but is overpowered by Kisma’s Tarnab accomplice Arathab Fal. It takes a last-second incursion by Holt, who grabs Emerick’s lightsaber and slices off Arathab’s arm, to save Beesar’s life and get the increasingly debilitated Jedi to safety.

This issue ends with a cliffhanging crossover, tying into the events of Claudia Gray’s recent novel Star Wars: The High Republic – The Fallen Star, and our protagonists are left wondering just how they’re going to seek help in their investigation when the Starlight Beacon space station– the Galactic Republic and Jedi Order’s home base in the Outer Rim– is suffering from a devastating attack of its own. Older (partnered with the skilled illustrator Dave Wachter) continues to deliver a page-turner of a potboiler detective story with Trail of Shadows, and I find myself chomping at the bit to find out what’s going to happen in the final installment, coming next month. Are our heroes finally going to discover the true nature of the beast that has so successfully given the Nihil a decided advantage over the Jedi? Will Emerick Caphtor recover in time to help his fellow Jedi Knights aboard Starlight Beacon? And what will become of Dr. Uttersond and Arathab Fal? This is the kind of Star Wars story that keeps me coming back for more, but since there’s only one issue left I have to settle for what remains in its climax. I can’t wait!

Star Wars: The High Republic – Trail of Shadows #4 is available now wherever comic books are sold.