On a whim last month, I took a chance with a little suspenseful Sci-Fi story written by Becky Cloonan and drawn by Andy Belanger. As I read it, I discovered that it was quite an excellent undertaking. I must say that I am very glad that I did take a chance as Southern Cross #1 was one of the best titles that I read last month. It played on so many emotions and moods that it not only captured my attention, it bound me, spanked me, and made me beg for more. But all S and M references aside, I found in the opening salvo of Southern Cross what looks to be a really creepy and entertaining comic that has solid elements of conspiracy, politics, dark science, and mystery. We have now entered into Issue #2 and it looks like our protagonist, Alex Braith, is beginning to have some suspicious thoughts enter into her mind. During the 1st issue, it was made known that Alex was headed aboard the Southern Cross ship to the Moon of Titan, searching for answers related to how her sister could have died. Death on the Saturn moon is not uncommon as the ZEMI Corporation has a large scale mining operation working around the clock and in brutal conditions. But as for Alex’s sister, she worked inside within the confines of the offices. Something just doesn’t seem right, and Alex wants to find out why.
As the new issue begins, Alex’s roommate on this cosmic voyage, a kind of annoying lady named Erin McKenna, has disappeared it would seem. On the surface, nothing looks too suspicious as Alex believes that Erin must have left the room early and maybe just happened to have forgot her key and ration card. Or maybe Erin left in quiet to avoid speaking to Alex since she was quite cold to her during their initial meeting. Who knows? But as time presses forward and Ms. McKenna does not show up, Alex becomes more suspicious. What’s even stranger, is that Erin’s clothes are on her bed and are laid out in a weird way. It all just doesn’t seem right.
Alex goes looking for help, but the crew of the ship seem to be unconcerned with this missing lady and some are downright ugly in their responses to Alex’s concerns. Other people that Alex encounters around the ship act very strangely, making vague statements or they ask her bizarre questions. Something is going on here and people seem to know, but aren’t saying anything. Or maybe they are just not saying anything to Alex. It all seems really suspicious. While sitting in the room and out of curiosity, Alex decides to look through Erin’s files and discovers much to her shock that the contents are her sister’s case files referencing her death and cause which doesn’t quite sound like it was an accident.
From there, the screws turn, the strangeness continues, and a teaser of an ending hits the reader like some seriously cold water to the face. Strange things are afoot on the Southern Cross and the walls of this super ship feel like they are closing in, especially on Alex.
As I read this issue late in the evening with the lights dim, I kept kind of looking over my shoulder every so often checking to make sure that someone (or something) was not creeping around my room’s corner. Becky Cloonan, writing the story mostly from Alex’s inner thoughts with some surface interactions, is paced in a way that makes you feel paranoid, real paranoid. Though The Southern Cross is a super colossal mega ship, Cloonan writes the story to where it feels much smaller, and smaller, and smaller. It is a wonderful plot design that sends chills down your spine as you read. More so in fact than some of the other horror comic offerings that I have read recently. Heck, more so than many of the horror comics that I have read ever. This comic is creepy and cold, feeling distant at times. Yet as close as a breath breathing down your neck at others.
Adding to that paranoia feeling, artist Andy Belanger draws the sequences very tight allowing you to feel the walls closing in. This ship is expansive, but it sure doesn’t feel that way. And it is getting tighter as the ship continues to plunge its way to the dark and depressive moon. I am really enjoying Belanger’s work. Those chills feel real to me and makes for some seriously sweet reading.
And if Cloonan and Belanger’s touches aren’t enough, colorist Lee Loughridge adds the cherry on top with his shadows of darkness. In Issue #1, there was a mix of warms and colds. But as this issue unfolds, the colds become prevalent. You feel the coldness and the dark.
Though we are just in the first half of the year, I must say that Southern Cross has made a profound impact on me thus far. The creepy factor is off the charts and I can’t remember feeling so paranoid while reading something like I have in reading this series. Like the Southern Cross ship itself, this story is pressing forward at a heavy and dark warp speed that has me anxious to see where we go from here. The only thing that I feel for certain is that things will be getting more intense for Ms. Alex and likewise for the reader too.