Review: The Autumnal #1 (Vault Comics)

Writer: Daniel Kraus
Artist: Chris Shehan
Colorist: Jason Wordie
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Designer: Tim Daniel 
On Sale: 9/23/2020

The Autumnal has just begun and I can already tell it’s a journey that will be full of ups and downs with dark, physiological and possibly supernatural themes. Vault Comics once again delivers great, new and original content.

PLOT AND STORY

Following the death of her estranged mother, Kat Sommerville and her daughter Sybil flee a difficult life in Chicago for the quaint and possibly deadly town of Comfort Notch, New Hampshire. Kat is brought back to her childhood home to attend the funeral of her Mother and all in Comfort Notch is not as it seems.

As an opening issue to a series you can not ask for much more than the intriguing yet guarded path Daniel Kraus has laid out for us. We learn some of Kat’s past but nowhere near the detail I’m sure we will explore as it appears Kat hasn’t had the easiest of lives. Her daughter Sybil has some form of behavioural disorder but again Kraus leaves me wanting to know more. Is this due to a rough upbringing or is there more to it which will be exploited during their stay in Comfort Notch?

Reading this story gave me early Alias/Jessica Jones vibes, then I was picking up on a Constantine level of eerie nature and upon their arrival in Comfort Notch it gave me a dreaded sense like the movie Get Out. Issue one doesn’t tell me much detail about anything but if teases me with enough strings of stories that I just want to pull on them all and find out exactly what’s going on in Comfort Notch and why Kat left at such a young age. I do fear doing that will send me down some rabbit holes I may never get out of.

ARTWORK

The combination of Chris Shehan’s art with Jason Wordie’s colors makes Autumnal a thing of beauty. Each panel depicts a bleak story simply by the emptiness that surrounds our characters. Kat walking alone down a street with this beautiful splash of watercolour esq style really sucks you into Kat’s emotions, you know she is sad or upset or angry without even reading the words.

The shift in colour in this book is perfect. Chicago has not been a happy time for Kat and Sybil which is enhanced elegantly by the dark miserable looking tone to the pages. When they arrive in Comforth Notch everything shifts to a bright, optimistic looking shade of orange which brings home the message of the books title Autumnal.

I would also like to compliment letterer Jim Campbell who uses a very simple white speech bubble for the text but in doing this makes the words pop off the page due to their contrast against the darker colour tone to the pages. Then Jim uses a square, shaded box for Kat’s self monologue and inner feelings which blends better with the panel’s feelings helping the reader understand Kat’s state of mind.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Autumnal is a book I did not expect to enjoy because I normally enjoy the more science fiction, super hero related books but I found myself pleasantly surprised. Autumnal is a great example of creating something good, compelling and engaging and you will win your audience. This is a book with great potential and I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing where it takes me. I think people who enjoy meaningful, thought provoking stories with a dark side will get a lot of enjoyment out of this.

I read this via an advance preview copy issued by Vault comics and received no incentive to review this comic.

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