Everybody All Aboard! You are invited to partake in a journey to the Saturn moon of Titan courtesy of The Southern Cross, a super charged tanker with some slight conversions to accommodate for tourists and the like when it's not too busy moving its bubbling crude off of the moon. On board for this journey is one Alex Braith, a person headed toward the moon not in search of pleasure or work, but in search for answers. Recently, Alex's sister Amber died under mysterious circumstances. Alex has now has punched her ticket on the Southern Cross to go find her sister's remains and to try to figure out why her death happened and who may be involved. She also might wish to instill a little justice for her sister before all is said and done.
So begins this story, on board a sprawling ship hurdling itself to a dank and dark destination. Written by Becky Cloonen and drawn by Andy Belanger, Southern Cross #1 looks to be a tale shrouded in secrets and lies all along the dankness and darkness of space and lifeless moons devoid of anything but hard work and possibly even harder death.
This opening issue does not give us too much information as to all of the secrets that await young Alex on the moon when she gets there and especially on the ship. But writer Cloonen does pace this along under a thick veil that allows for the mind to wander trying to figure out exactly what is happening. And in delivering this writing style, much like our protagonist we are left in the dark with a million questions and few answers (minus some strange interactions and one big bomb drop ending teaser). Little is known, but like the mighty Saturn moon itself and super space tanker that bears the title, this story looks to be immense, enthralling, and maybe even a little bit horrific too. My kind of tale.
Told mostly from Alex's perspective with some character interactions filling in the rest, this opening issue is a little slower paced than I would have initially expected that it would be. But the pacing is done deliberately by Cloonen as she wants us to soak in the smells, the sounds, the sploshing, as well as the pain that is coated on it with each page turn. It is a good use of writing that allows the reader to follow this story and really focus in on the surrounding landscapes, which include some dire warnings nicely placed across the mundane and drab scenery. Included within this scape is the very mighty Zemi Corporation. One possibly untouchable powerhouse company that may hold all the answers, but will not be giving them out anytime soon.
Like Cloonen's writing (and super sweet cover), artist Andy Belanger depicts Southern Cross #1 as a dark and foreboding place, something technologically advanced, but a place that is crushing itself to death upon its own greed, corruption, and excess. Alex is drawn with a ferocity and intensity that shows us that even though she may be slight in frame, she will be one tough customer in a scrap, especially when family is involved. Belanger, draws Alex in a way that makes her a very interesting character indeed, There is much more than meets the eye here.
Also like the writing of Cloonen, Belanger spends a great deal of time focusing on the sights, smells, and overall dankness of the place. Sploshing water appears to be a theme and Belanger works the reader to take his/her time in reading the story allowing for ample time to soak in the atmosphere that surrounds Alex and her travel aboard The Southern Cross.
And not to go outdone, colorist Lee Loughridge brings equal contrasts of cold darks and hot warms to give the reader a sense of the varying degrees of feeling here. Just like Cloonen and Belenger, Loughridge uses the coloring to create a feel for the story that is just as powerful as the visual cues that are given.
Of all the comics that I have read here in 2015, I must say that Southern Cross #1 is probably the deepest one that I have encountered. The entire creative team generates the story to degrees of feeling more so than the average comic. Hell, I think that I actually began to smell the smell of burning fuel, sploshy metallic tasting water, and smoky air that permeates this whole story. It is an interesting experiment that could really produce some serious dividends in the thrills and chills department as the story progresses. Nothing feels like it is as it seems. And behind all of the darkness, there appears to be something even more sinister than just some simple corporate greed at play. Southern Cross is a page turner to be sure and this first issue is a strong hook that looks like it will be reeling you in slowly, like a deep-sea fisherman, until it lifts you out of the depths of the deep blue (or black in this case) and into the bright light and choking fresh air of the boat. I for one am stoked to see where it will go from here.