From writer Daniel Kraus, artist Chris Shehan, colorist Jason Wordie , and letterer Jim Campbell, comes the fifth chapter of one of the most well-crafted horror comics of the year. “The Autumnal” #5 is a thoughtfully paced comic book with intimate focuses on its cast of characters, while adding more pieces to the creeping puzzle that is the unseen terror of Comfort Notch. With an equally meditative and unnerving script and eerie perfect artwork, this comic is yet another incredible installment in a brilliant story.
“The sudden vanishing of a Comfort Notch citizen compels Kat to follow a hidden-in-plain-sight clue… before the worst omen of all manifests from the leaves.”
Writing & Plot
The writing on Daniel Kraus for the duration of this entire series thus far has been nothing short of astounding, and the same goes for “The Autumnal” #5. The script for this issue is rife with character moments that feel real and grounded, and make every person feel like someone you could actually speak to. Kat is now one of my favorite comic protagonists in recent years, and its because I feel like I understand and empathize with every aspect of both her past and her current struggle. She is a single mother with a checkerboard past that is only trying to do best by her child, and her instincts tell her over and over that there is something overwhelmingly wrong with this new town. The fact that she is also a good person is a bonus. There are almost no horror clichés here; Kat doesn’t stick around just to further the plot, as she is rooted to Comfort Notch and its people by her own nature. The supporting cast is fantastic as well, with Kat’s daughter being a delightful character, the scarred drug addict Carol being a sympathetic grouch, and tattoo removal specialist-turned boyfriend Rob keeps on being a beacon of reason and light. The dialogue itself feels real and genuine, with each character having their own voice. The creepy moments land with the perfect amount of shock, and the tender moments feel affirming. This series continues to be one of the most well written comics on stands right now, with Kraus being a tour de force of talent.
The paradoxical soothing yet unnerving aesthetic of “The Autumnal” #5 is built once again by artist Chris Shehan, whose pencils provide stunning detail and tone for environments, characters, and the general creepiness of Comfort Notch. The small town covered in leaves and woods comes across like a mix of a Stephen King novel and John Carpenter’s Halloween. The little details of the houses and resident small town diner carry a sense of familiarity to them that draws the reader into the comic with ease. The character animations are once again outstanding, with each person having their personalities portrayed through their expressions. Kat’s worry and suspicion shows through her eyes, Rob’s concern for his new lover is plastered on his face, while the lies of the deceitful are bared through grinning teeth. The colors of Jason Wordie are what really sell the “Autumn” part of “The Autumnal,” with the whole town and setting being draped in that orange and red hue that can suddenly turn into foggy shadow and other dark, vivid hues during the more horrific scenes. Subtlety is still the name of this comic’s game, so the visual direction of this comic is crafted to keep the reader strung along with often silent panels to accomplish storytelling beats that can only be done in this medium. Minor details are brought to your attention that can sometimes be difficult to make out, but that is all in the design. The letters from Jim Campbell are a perfectly contemporary font that blends in with the story and still sells the tone of the dialogue and narration perfectly. This is an expertly crafted comic book, and one of the most intricately put together horror books of the year.
“The Autumnal” #5 is a brilliant, insightful chapter in a horror comic series that is brimming with brilliance, character insight, and creeping horror. Daniel Kraus pens a script that gives priority to the evolving emotions and relationships of the main cast, while demonstrating a keen sense of tension and dread building when it comes to telling a horror story. The visuals from Chris Shehan and Jordie Bellaire are a beautiful and haunting display of character and environmental artistry, with out-of-nowhere haunting imagery and top-notch panel direction. This truly is one of the finest horror comics in recent memory, and you owe it to yourself to pick up this latest issue when it hits shelves on 3-10.