"Southern Cross #2" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Becky Cloonan
Illustrated by Andy Belanger
2015, 32 Pages, $2.99
Comic released on April 8th, 2015
Alex Braith is aboard the Southern Cross, a spaceship hurtling through the solar system towards Jupiter's moon, Titan. She's making this trip to pick up her sister's remains and to get some answers as to how and why she died in the first place. Something doesn't add up and the more time that Alex spends aboard this ship, the more questions she has. I get that people can become a little jumpy if they've been cooped up inside a vessel like this for a bit, but it's only been a couple days and already things are pretty strange.
Southern Cross has an uneasy feeling that flows through every page. You can sense something unnatural about this ship. This is immediately seen in the opening pages where Alex discovers her roommate is missing. She seems to have vanished. Her stuff is still there, and what's even weirder is that her clothes are laid out on her bed, as if she was laying there and then her body suddenly disappeared. This panel is so creepy. Artist Andy Belanger shows the clothing all wrinkled up, like the flesh was sucked right out of it. What could have caused this?
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That disturbing feeling continues as Alex makes her way through the ship. Writer Becky Cloonan brings the horror subtly, making it creep up on you slowly. You can't quite put your finger on what's wrong about this place, but you just know there's something. This makes the closing moments of the issue all the more frightening, when Cloonan pulls back the throttle and unleashes the terror. Most of this is still in the shadows, so your mind is filling in the blanks as to what's going on in the gutters between panels. This culminates in an absolutely gorgeous full-page spread from Belanger.
There are no normal people aboard the Southern Cross. They're all a little off. It could be that they make this trip so often that it's altered their psyches. Alex doesn't let it get to her though. She is on a mission, and a few whackjobs aren't going to stop her from finding out what happened to her sister. Whether it's her creep of her neighbor hitting on her or the flip-flopping captain who's gone from cordial to a total dick, she is having none of their bullshit.
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There's a sense of claustrophobia present in the book. You can feel the walls closing in on the characters as they make their way through the cramped environment. Even if there are just two people on the page, they can often look like they're right on top of each other. Add this to the WHUM WHUM WHUM of the ship's engines and you've got a pretty uncomfortable experience for anyone on board.
Southern Cross is the kind of horror that sneaks up on you. It bides its time, waiting for the right moment to strike. This isn't some cheesy jump scare. The soundtrack isn't going to spike as a killer leaps from the bushes. Instead it's going to reach right into your chest and pull out your heart and it's going to do it all in space. Even if you could get away, where are you going to go?