As we enter the winter and witness the leaves being stripped from the trees, The Autumnal and its haunting fall story continues this week with issue #3. Kat Somerville and her daughter, Sybil, are trying to fit into the town where Kat grew up while creepy things continue to rear their ugly head. As the mystery of the town, its history, and how Kat plays into it heats up the narrative continues to explore Kat’s identity.
It’s becoming quite clear there is something very hidden in Kat’s past that has yet to be revealed, which is gracefully sussed out by writer Daniel Kraus and artist Chris Shehan. This third issue reveals a version of Kat who wants to be the stand-up mom in a town where it’s hard to gain people’s trust. This issue explores her desire to fit in, but also how she reacts when she can’t play the part. Through key scenes at a tattoo shop and quieter scenes with her daughter, we begin to see who this person is and was.
Kraus is doing an expert job writing a believable character who, like us all, wants to be an adult but we’re all sort of guessing at how that works. Add in her obvious rebel nature and childhood that doesn’t quite make sense, and there’s a keen mystery to be had here. Shehan provides an interesting double-page splash of photographs revealing key moments in Kat’s life.
There’s continued striking use of white cutting into the edges of the panels from the gutters that creates a sense of tension and fear. Colors by Jason Wordie add new dimensions to the narrative too, especially in a scene with a tattoo artist. Over nine panels of Kat, we get interesting plays with light on her skin as well as a starkly pink color. These colors help draw us into her desperate cry for what seems like help while also keeping your interest up with simple headshots of Kat speaking. There’s also a truly haunting child’s drawing that’s a standout moment in the book.
The slower pace is a bit rare these days, though the cards are certainly being revealed once you reach the cliffhanger. That said, the slowness feels ever crushing in the first half of this book while Kat attempts to lead a normal life in the small town. Things pick up when she reaches a pub, though. Another minor quibble is some handy plot help after Kat smashes a glass over a guy’s head–and somehow gets to walk away–but it’s an easy enough element to gloss over and move on from.
The Autumnal continues to be an engrossing horror story that creeps you out with its fringe reveals and haunting underbelly. It has yet to reveal its true nature so we may get to know Kat a bit better and thoroughly understand her before the secret of the town is revealed.
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