By Robert Larson
Southern Cross doesn’t let up with the second issue of this arc, which is usually where a series slows down for a little bit. But given the crisis that’s unfolding on Romulus, taking things slowly wouldn’t really make all that much sense. Everything was so close to crisis as is, and the disappearance of the Southern Cross and the murder of Carter has make it all fall apart. In the middle of this, Hazel is trying to make sense of it all without getting killed, knowing full well that a murderer is targeting her.
In the aftermath of Carter’s murder, Forsythe is taking command of the rig. But Hazel refuses to back away from her investigation, and Kyril spills what he knows about the Southern Cross and the artifact. Hazel puts it together that Amber is connected with this and that a third party was connected to both her and Alex. But that doesn’t help with any of the rig’s other problems, not the least of which are the miners who are on the verge of mutiny. All it takes is one accident for everything to erupt.
I came away from this issue appreciating the fact that the protagonist is an older woman, a demographic that is strikingly absent in most comics (Aunt May aside). Yeah, it’s Becky Cloonan so Hazel isn’t exactly soft around the edges, and she’s clearly carrying her own baggage, not unlike Braith. But she’s also not Braith, or even an older version of Braith. Alex was just barely holding it together from the very first issue of Southern Cross, whereas Hazel seems relatively in control. Something tells me she’s seen it all and has managed to live with it, at least back when “all” didn’t include alien artifacts and madness. Whether she’ll be holding it together after this is anybody’s guess.
What also works for this issue is not doing “more of the same” from the first arc. Hazel fits into that nicely, but there are other examples. We’ve already established that the supernatural is at play here, so Hazel isn’t forced to waste the reader’s time chasing a red herring explanation: she knows from Kyril that an alien artifact is at play, and we waste no time as readers following this. Instead, we get to follow up new mysteries, such as the identity of the person who left a message on Amber’s communicator, or why the Seven Hands is chasing this obviously dangerous artifact.
And, as usual, I’m still in love with the artwork of this book. The sort of Mad Max/Alien jumble works especially when in separating the guards from the miners, whose looks actually can be divided into those two. And I’ve always been a big fan of the back matter artwork and advertisements, but the computer with a VHS player is too good: it just riffs off of so much good ‘80s sci-fi. I’m already pumped for more of this book.
Southern Cross #8
Writer: Becky Cloonan
Artist: Andy Belanger and Lee Loughridge
Publisher: Image Comics