Croak is a new 3-issue limited series from indie publisher Alterna Comics. The publisher boasts an impressive and unique line-up that have already dealt with a lot of various subjects and genres, but Croak is something different. Croak harkens back to the days of pure old-school terror. That thing that you can’t quite see in the dark, and wish that you never could. That evil that plays on our basest of fears as told through old campfire stories.
And the first two issues of Croak do just that: We go back to the most traditional of “scary stories”, showing why these classic fears still work on our subconscious, even if we are quick to dismiss them as superstition.
Issue #1 finds three teens (Aubrey, Nick, and Tim) plan a camping trip in the woods. Despite the promise of a group outing, Tim’s enthusiasm isn’t shared by his friends. In fact, the three spend more of their time bickering with each other than anything. After hiking out in the woods and finding themselves lost, it’s revealed that no one prepared for this journey as much as they believed, and the three make due with what supplies that they have.
Tim decides to tell a horror story. That old “killer in the woods” tale that has haunted the imagination of every camper at some point or another. Nick and Aubrey are quick to dismiss the story, but Aubrey thinks she sees something in the shadows. This results in a prank that goes horribly wrong, and whether through destiny or fate, some stories come true. All the while, something far more dangerous lurks in the woods….
Issue #2 deals with the repercussions of the last issue, as a friend now lies injured before the group. While they try to decide the best course of action, the injured party disappears. The remaining survivors go out to search for their missing friend. As they search, a “Croak” noise comes from the nearby swamp, growing in volume, and shattering the already uncomfortable silence. It is here that things proceed to get far worse.
Of course there are events that go deeper than this, but part of the fun of this is finding out who is able to survive this new growing horror, and what remains to be asked is: What has become of the victims?
Croak goes straight for the classic horror story, and the visuals really highlight the suspense. Between Francesco Iaquinta’s intense art, and the bold, basic colors of Chris O’Halloran, the overall look strongly reminded me of those old EC Comics’ Tales From the Crypt stories.
This story is also backed by Cody Andrew Sousa’s writing, really bringing the final element together to really recreate that “feel” those old comics evoked. In an age of superheroes, and boldly computerized coloring, getting back to a more simplistic style becomes more intense, and compliments the stark nature of the predicament our hapless heroes find themselves in.
I am expecting Issue #3’s eventual release to finish telling what becomes of the survivors, and does that grisly campfire tale told in Issue #1 truly hold the key to their fate, because things aren’t looking good for the group. In a time where practically everything is so expansive in massive interconnecting stories and incredibly massive budgets, it’s nice to see a story that cuts the crap on the sub-plots and gets straight to the scary.
I can’t believe that I have to wait until Issue #3 comes out….