Trail of Shadows was promoted by writer Daniel José Older as being a noir mystery homage with the classic odd couple as the protagonists. While the first issue was heavy on the exposition and set-up, with our main characters not even meeting, this issue wastes no time in speeding up the pairing and delivering on its crime noir promises in delightful fashion.
Weeks or months have passed since the first issue’s events; Emerick Caphtor and Sian Holt are wallowing in their own ways at the dead ends of their separate cases. Luckily, they are summoned to see the Supreme Chancellor, who quickly introduces the duo, finds the common link between both cases, and puts them to work.
The Nihil and Loden Greatstorm’s death at the hands of a powerful weapon are of interest to Caphtor, while the man selling the weapons, Arathab Fal, is of interest to Holt as her partner’s killer. They’re sent to Gambler’s Paradise to find the criminal afterwards.
In the lead up though, the pair get to know each other, and we get some slick back-and-forth between the two on-route.
Older’s dialogue here really makes the issue; people from different paths interacting to solve a crime is a staple of the crime genre. It’s made even funnier when Holt sees through the lies of the Jedi.
Another homage hits when the duo enter Arathab Fal’s last known location, an apartment, and find a dead Umbaran. We get an amazing, well set-out double page of the two going back and forth analyzing the crime scene.
It’s Law and Order, Sherlock Holmes, and pretty much any detective story from the last 100 years; it’s spot on!
Following the noise of the firefight down the street, Holt and Caphtor find the hulking Arathab Fal in combat with a group of Nihil.
The Jedi and PI quickly make short work of the Nihil, but Fal gets away on his speeder, although not before Caphtor’s droid shoots a sneaky tracker on its back!
The trackers leads them to a rooftop overlooking what will become their next clue:
That Chadra-Fan is none other than Kisma Uttersond, a high ranking doctor working for the leader of the Nihil, Marchion Ro. Uttersond was Loden Greatstorm’s main torturer, and appears to have survived being thrown through a window by the Jedi during his escape attempt in The Rising Storm.
This series is really heating up now. Older has perfectly captured the Detective/Crime Noir genre feel he was going for, while also making it his own and progressing the story really well, especially since our two leads didn’t even meet in the last issue! Special mention to the art as well, which has very clear dynamic character designs that are pleasing to look at. And also, a bit of an obscure compliment: the panel placement and design here is great too.
This series is definitely worth your time, and hopefully the quality continues to be raised as the mystery thickens!