I started reading Southern Cross with a general idea of what the book is. A mystery in space. And it is that, but it takes a very different shape than I expected.
A woman named Alex Braith leaves Earth to collect her sister’s remains and possessions from Titan, where she worked for a refinery. While she’s at it, she wants answers about how her sister, who had a safe desk job, wound up dead. This is where my expectations came from: I figured it would be a lot of pounding pavement on Titan and getting in over her head.
That’s not what Becky Cloonan does. Before Alex can make it to Titan, strange things start happening on the ship on which she is a passenger. Crew behaves strangely. People disappear. Alex sees ghosts—both the spectral kind and the sort from her own past. Each of these things leads her to dig deeper into what is going on and what it might have to do with her sister’s death. Then things get weirder. Southern Cross is tight and intentional; each twist reveals a deeper layer in what is going on. It’s a suspenseful, engaging book.
Southern Cross didn’t even look the way I expected it to. Bélanger’s linework reminds me of Mike Allred’s art. It evokes classic comics and pop style. It’s clean in a way that works very well in a sci-fi setting. And Lee Loughridge’s colors add so much to this book. Starting from a Blade Runner-esque ‘80s dystopian sci-fi palette, he subtly transitions to darker, more muted, less varied tones. And when weird things happen, he leverages that initial neon palette to make more fantastical elements stand out without feeling out of place.
This book was a nice surprise. It defied my expectations, and it did so while building a tense, creepy mystery. It takes advantage of some of the familiar beats I expected, but Cloonan makes smart use of those to springboard into stranger elements. And Bélanger and Loughridge give her story unique, suspenseful visuals. Southern Cross definitely goes in the recommendation pile.
- Southern Cross, Vol. 1 (#1-6)
Writer: Becky Cloonan | Artist: Andy Bélanger | Colorist: Lee Loughridge | Letterer: Serge LaPointe