A ghost story around a campfire is almost as a given as death and taxes, but when those stories come to life, survival is not. Croak revolves around three young adults that venture out on camping trip “where their worst nightmares come to life.” Written by Cody Andrew Sousa, with art by Francesco Iaquinta, and colors by Chris O’halloran, Croak is a tension-filled thriller that moves at a breakneck pace tempting the reader to skip ahead. But whatever you do, don’t turn back.
The story opens with three friends, Tim, Nick and Aubrey who are on their way to a camping trip, despite the fact that only one of them is a camper (Nick). The story does an excellent job of giving us a bit of tension, but then pulling back and letting it build up until all hell breaks loose. Sousa leads us to assume that Croak is going to rely on the typical campfire ghost story trope, which it very nearly does.
When the story isn’t going through one of its tension-filled frenzies, the dialogue does tend to get a little uninspired. And unless I missed something, we don’t learn Tim’s name until halfway through the second issue. The twist at the end of issue three makes up for any previous missteps, minor though they are.
O’halloran’s use of dark colors sets the mood flawlessly; I think this is where the newsprint aides and adds to the story. The texture of the paper and the thicker, more absorbent material adds depth and darkness to the page. Having said that, there are a few panels where it took a few extra glances before it sunk in.
Kudos to Iaquinta’s creature creation, and the cause everyone's distress, which looks like a pterodactyl on two legs crossed with a giant rodent with two large bulging red eyes. Think of a Skeksis on steroids. The bold lines also add to the intensity of the situation.
Croak is just one of the hundred titles published by Alterna Comics. Overall, it’s an enjoyable thrill-ride that I would recommend for fans of that genre. Croak is a three issue story arc that is over before you know it and will leave you wanting more both from this story and the creators. All three issues are available now where Alterna Comics are sold (a complete list of retailers who carry Alterna titles is available on their website alternacomics.com). It is recommended, for a story like this, that all three be read in succession to get a fulfilling experience.