Southern Cross #1
Writer/Cover: Becky Cloonan
Art: Andy Belanger
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letters: Serge LaPointe
Behind the CurtainBecky Cloonan is constantly proving her talents by pumping out hit stories and gorgeous art. That is especially true as of late with books such as Gotham Academy, The Kitchen and Demo vol. 2. Andy Belanger also has a unique way of telling stories through illuistrations, as primarily exhibited on the title Kill Shakespeare. His understanding of the human figure is really top notch stuff, and adding his art style to Cloonan's eerie tale promises a really enjoyable read.
What's Going On?
Southern Cross focuses on Alex Braith, a woman travelling aboard the transportation vessel known as the Southern Cross to Saturn's moon, Titan. Her sister, Amber was working their with an organization mining the moon's resources, until she died. Alex is off to retrieve the body and hopefully find out what went wrong. Many passengers on the ship prove to be strong personality types such as her chatty roommate Erin, the informative Captain Mori Tetsuya, and an obnoxious gentleman bunking across the hall from the two ladies. The longer she is on the ship, the more she begins to discover about it. I think that as the story continues we are going to find that what is starting out as a relatively simple quest is going to develop into so much more, as hinted in this first issue.
Cloonan uses the characters very effectively as a way of progressing the plot and developing the main character, but more interesting than that is the way she uses the ship's crew for exposition. Many stories that take place in space use heavy text to create context or just don't relinquish details at all, but Cloonan has many of the shipmates explaining what different parts of the ship do, some of the vessel's history, and general layout. It is a much more engaging form of story telling. There is also a duality that is brought to Alex Braith. On the outside she can be cold and stand offish but when displayed introspectively it is revealed that this journey is completely unknown territory for her and that there is a definite sense of cautious uneasiness. The characters that are introduced in this book each have a distinct voice that is heard throughout the issue. I don't trust all these folks, maybe that's from me being cynical or maybe I'm really not supposed to, guess we'll find out!
How's it Looking?
Belanger's style is a great match for Cloonan's storytelling style. They clearly have an identical vision for this tale. Belanger manages to create a universe that looks expansive while inhabiting restrictive claustrophobic environments. Space looks awesome, he clearly has a great handle on fleshing out a place that could be portrayed as empty, but with all the detail he adds it still manages to feel cold and vast. Inside the Southern Cross, there are machinery, pipes, and cables that need no explanation. They are set dressings that make the reader want to know more about the ship and what else could be tucked away in it. What I found particularly impressive is the way Belanger draws eyes. Every eye is glossy and expressive, providing further emotional recognition in each character as well as furthering an already intricately detailed story. The character models and their costumes are perfectly matched with their surroundings, and are not overly detailed as many interstellar stories tend to do. Loughridge provides deep blues, greens, and teals to make the ship seem almost as dark and mysterious as the vacuum surrounding it. The colors also utilize dramatic lighting to show some gorgeous eye grabbing scenes.
Treat yourself to this story. It is a well written, fresh look at a genre with impressive visuals that further add to the experience. It's clear that character voices are important to Becky Cloonan and she makes sure to make them distinct and engaging. Meanwhile, Andy Belanger ensures that your eyes will be constantly drawn to each panel. That duo as well as the rest of the team form a read that is hard to put down and even harder to wait for the next issue. Southern Cross #1 came out on 3/11 and costs only $2.99!