Two issues in, The Autumnal may just be the best series that Vault Comics has ever published. Written by Daniel Kraus, drawn by Chris Shehan, colored by Jason Wordie, and lettered by the best in the biz, Jim Campbell, this character-driven, purposefully paced horror comic has felt like vintage Stephen King by way of Ari Aster. Does this third issue live up to the standard set by the debut?
The Autumnal is "Google how many issues it's going to last" good. (The answer is eight. Good on Vault for giving a book like this a shot for a longer run than what is common these days.) In the first two issues, the characters and the story were so enthralling that it immediately invites readers to invest, and by the third, it's impossible not to feel tied to Kat and Sybil. By the third, The Autumnal will have your heart. Now, the scariest thing is wondering what Kraus and Shehan will do now that you're in their snares.
The Autumnal #3 sees the foreboding hints at the supernatural when the first two issues begin to take a horrifying shape. This issue is every bit as compelling as the first two but gets even scarier because the narrative remains grounded, making the terror feel that much more real as it begins to sharpen in clarity. Shehan's artwork is beautiful throughout the whole series, and he draws a hell of an autumn scene, but here we get to see how he handles character acting as Kat cascades through a depressive trip outside of town, going from a bar to a tattoo removal shop. Under this creative team's hands, every character feels real and nuanced, making this small town horror work on absolutely every level.
The Autumnal may have five issues left to go, but I'd take fifty. Some of Vault Comics' longer titles have terrific art but a weak narrative, but this is one that has it all. The Autumnal is one of the best books on shelves, and it has been since its debut.