Kat has discovered the dark past of Comfort Notch, and how it involves her. And now that the equinox has arrived, what is going to happen?  Find out in The Autumnal #6 from Vault Comics!

THE AUTUMNAL #6

Writer: Daniel Kraus
Artist: Chris Shehan
Colorist: Jason Wordie
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Editor: Adrian F. Wassel
Publisher: Vault Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 14, 2021

Previously in The Autumnal: Kat made friends with Carol Ravintzky, the town misfit who also happens to be an addict, which the town uses as another strike against her. Carol gives Kat information about Clementine and the town’s history; Kat helps her get some medical help for her issues. Kat meets the Mayor, who assures her there never have been any children missing from town. Kat’s neighbor, Mrs. Dobson, apologizes to her. Kat has a get together with Rob, the handsome tattooist and misses several texts from Carol. Then Carol is found dead. Kat uncovers another lead, a woman named Jewel. She tracks her down and discovers the unpleasant truth. When she was a child, she had been chosen by Clementine to be a sacrifice!

THE WHISPERING OF THE TOWNSPEOPLE

The Autumnal #6 opens with Kat in the library again. She tries to control her temper even as she hears the whispering of gossip all around her. Right now, it’s all about Carol. The woman whom no one liked but everyone talked about is still the topic of the conversation, especially spooky details from the medical exam after her death. The topic soon changes to misfit #2 in town, Kat. Kat seethes at this, but she is here to find some volumes of archived newspapers and get out with them.

She finds something she was looking for, something Jewel told her. Then she buys a bunch of stuff from the hardware store. The gossip follows her. Already people have heard that someone stole a bunch of old newspapers from the library. She picks Sybil up from Mrs. Dobson’s house. Mrs. Dobson has heard about the newspaper theft and figures out that it was Kat. She urges her to leave town while there is still time. But Kat decides to stay and fight. This was set up beautifully. It is well established that Kat has nothing left in her life, nothing but the house in Comfort Notch, and now that she has it, she is going to fight for it.

Once she gets home, she starts sealing it up. She boards the windows and fireplace. She tapes over the cracks around the edges of the door. A stray leaf skitters into the room, and she unleashes on it all of her fear and fury, which scares Sybil. Apparently, Carol told her how to keep Clementine out of her house, and tonight is the night, the night of the autumnal equinox. She goes out in her yard to clear leaves from it and nearly stabs Rob with her pitchfork.

She tells him what she found – that the story of Clementine Biddle was not originally the story of an abused and victimized young woman, but the story of a witch who made a deal with a forest spirit. Rob is skeptical, but he urges her to leave if she’s afraid. Again, Kat is making a stand and doesn’t want to give them a chance to burn her house down. Rob thinks she needs to seek help, and to prove his point he tells her he is going to walk in the woods, through the leaves, and come back.

Kat goes back inside with Sybil and the wind starts to pick up. Blown leaves hit the windows. Kat makes a snap decision to leave to get help. She opens the door and they brave the leaves, first to go to Mrs. Dobson, to use her phone, but she is not there. Then they get into the car. As they drive through town, it is dark. No one is around, anywhere. And on the way out of town, Kat finds the road is closed, and then one of her tires blows out.

THE WHISPERING OF THE LEAVES

One of the things I want to talk about regarding The Autumnal #6 is how deftly the team has set up the horror aspect of something as innocuous as fall leaves. If you skimmed through this book and had never read any of the series, I think the leaves would stand out as colorful and beautiful. But we who have been reading have seen the corpses with leaves stuffed into their mouths. We’ve heard the story of Clementine. We’ve seen people’s reaction to the leaves. We’ve seen individual leaves in incongruous places, and swirls of leaves right before a death. The set up has been gradual and so well placed that it sells the idea that the leaves herald awful things. Add to that the wonderful lettering, such as when leaves slap against windows, and we hear the sound like daggers to the heart.

BOTTOM LINE: REACHING THE POINT OF NO RETURN

I like the way The Autumnal #6 reverses the trope of, “Don’t run into the small, dark house to hide.” Here, it is the wide open outdoors we must fear, at least on the equinox. All the pieces have been carefully laid out, and it’s all coming down to whether or not Kat can escape her fate.


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By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

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