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Star Wars: The High Republic – Trail of Shadows
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

Star Wars: The High Republic – Trail of Shadows’ TPB review

Trail of Shadows is a great noir story set in the Star Wars galaxy.


There are a lot of different kinds of Star Wars fans today. There are ones who think that the only things that count are the eleven films, or some combination of them. There are people whose Star Wars is the stuff that Timothy Zahn wrote. Others who see Dave Filoni’s work as the best of a galaxy far, far away. There’s a lot of Star Wars floating around in the ether, and a lot of opinions about what counts. A lot of personal canons being treated as universal truth. 

In a lot of ways, everything about The High Republic publishing initiative has been a breath of fresh air for me, at least as far as Star Wars goes. I haven’t had specific expectations for what needed to happen, no preconceived notions, and had little opinion on any of the creators work beforehand. Am I surprised that I’ve liked it so much? Not really! I love Star Wars, and as much as I’m critical of it, I’m also not hard to please. 

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Which you can hold against me as I say that Star Wars: The High Republic – Trail of Shadows is an excellent Star Wars story, a great comic, and well worth your time – though it’s somewhat difficult to fully recommend because of its odd place in the larger story. 

Trail of Shadows mostly takes place after the second High Republic book, and ends during the third. It has spoilers for the ends of both books, and while all the necessary context is in the comic, the books are both worth reading. In effect; if you’ve read those, great! Definitely read this! If you haven’t and you want to, probably hold off! But if you don’t plan on reading the novels, you can totally read this and get it, and you’ll probably like it! Because like I said before: I really like this comic. That mostly has to do with the kind of story the creative team chose to tell here. 

Star Wars: The High Republic – Trail of Shadows
Marvel Comics

The High Republic has mostly focused on larger scale events, the big escalations in the conflict with the Nihil. There have been a couple of examples where that wasn’t true, but for the most part, everything has revolved around large battles that are reminiscent of, well, Star Wars. Trail of Shadows bucks that trend, by delivering what is essentially a noir story in the middle of this galactic conflict. This itself isn’t new to Star Wars (look at Attack of the Clones), but it’s done in an incredibly endearing and skilled way.

Older, Wachter, and Marchisio largely sell this comic by its tone, which feels like it takes its cues from every great crime story I’ve ever experienced, but feeds it all through a Star Wars lens. The main characters are a Jedi detective (basically) and a private investigator (more or less) who are hunting down leads on something that hurts force users. The actual plot is good; it’s kinda basic, very steeped in crime tropes, but it gets to play with those in fun ways. 

The relationship between the main characters, for instance, is both new to Star Wars, and puts a wonderful twist on the typical detective-femme fatale relationship in most crime stories. The comic has plenty of these examples where it feels like the creative team thought about how they can use crime tropes in Star Wars that would heighten both ideas, and it works every time. 

However, the real treat here is the tone of the comic, which is just masterful work from all involved. 

Star Wars: The High Republic – Trail of Shadows
Marvel Comics

From the jump, Trail of Shadows puts the horror to the fore, and every step toward solving the mystery leads to more horror. There’s a sense of dread that follows the investigation, not unlike the tone of the third High Republic novel. It’s masterful work, that’s compelling and anxiety inducing. 

Trail of Shadows is a great noir story set in the Star Wars galaxy. It’s approachable if you don’t care about spoiling other stuff, and might even be a gateway into The High Republic because of that. If there’s one thing Star Wars isn’t, it’s “in order.”

Star Wars: The High Republic – Trail of Shadows
Star Wars: The High Republic – Trail of Shadows’ TPB review
Star Wars: The High Republic – Trail of Shadows
Star Wars but noir: it’s very good.
Reader Rating1 Vote
8.9
Perfect tone
Great mix of genres
Love this creative team
Takes place in between two stories, and effectively spoils both if you're coming in fresh
9
Great
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