Writer Daniel Kraus and artist Chris Shehan return with another fantastic chapter of their character-centered horror series with “The Autumnal” #3. Along with colorist Jason Wordie and letters by Jim Campbell, this issue delivers more fantastic emotion and relatability from its protagonist while never letting up on the story’s unnerving atmosphere. With a brilliantly put together script and fantastic visual work, this is another chapter in one of the most well-constructed horror comics I’ve read in recent memory.
“A drunken bender lands Kat in front of a wise and handsome tattoo removal specialist, yet she’s drawn back to eerie Comfort Notch, where a trove of old photos reveal the figure behind the town’s ominous legends.”
Writing & Plot
Daniel Kraus has made sure to spend plenty of time getting to know our lead characters with every chapter so far, but in “The Autumnal” #3 we get our first bits of outward vulnerability from Kat. The internal struggle this woman has had in trying to keep herself happy despite past trauma all while raising a daughter has been handled with careful sincerity by Kraus. She feels like a real person more and more each issue. The fact that her story ties in so well with whatever the hell is happening in Comfort Notch is this comic’s true work of wonder thus far. I’ve noted before how this comic pulls off its sense of tension so well because of how much the reader is made to care for the characters while also intertwining their lives with the horror at hand. The more uncertain the lead characters are, the more we are. The more frightened and unnerved they are, it’s the same for us. Kraus doesn’t give the audience any additional pieces to the puzzle; for the most part, we know just as much as Kat and Sybil do. The mystery behind the haunted autumn views of Comfort Notch is a mesmerizing tale of cultish and eerie behavior. Experiencing this tense horror tale from Kat and Sybil’s perspective continues to be an immense pleasure.
Artist Chris Shehan performs some of his best work yet (which is saying a lot) with his pencils on “The Autumnal” #3. His character animations and expressions is at its peak here, with much of the focus being on the subtle changes in expression from panel to panel. There’s a sequence where Kat is venting about her current experiences in Comfort Notch and her past trauma over a 6-panel grid (think the interview sessions in Heroes in Crisis), and Shehan draws Kat’s emotional journey across her face in a brilliantly recognizable yet subtle way. His design for the most creepy moment yet (no spoilers) is also chilling and will stick with you long after the comic is bagged and boarded. His panel direction is once again top-notch as well. There’s a sense of character focus combined with artsy cinematic appeal that is reminiscent of the cinematography seen in great horror films, but crafted in a way only achievable in comics. The colors of Jason Wordie are once again outstanding, immersing the comic in stunning amber autumn glows and foggy urban smog. Jim Campbell’s lettering utilizes a sort of soft, modern font that is used in a variety of ways. When characters whisper or talk to themselves, Campbell just uses small, faint lettering. It’s a move that’s been done, but not quite to this degree (at least not that I’ve seen) and it’s very effective. This is yet again a phenomenal piece of work from the visual team.
“The Autumnal” #3 is yet another chapter in this horror series that balances levity and character development with a deeply unnerving atmosphere. Daniel Kraus pens a script that mixes relatable human emotion and experience with a mysterious supernatural horror that makes for an intoxicating genre experience. The visual work of Chris Shehan and Jason Wordie is immensely detailed and well-animated and paints the town of Comfort notch with a deceiving beauty. This is another fantastic installment in this new horror series, and I can’t recommend enough that you grab this newest issue from your local comic shop when it releases on 11/26!