Southern Cross is a book that has taken me by surprise from the first issue. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I picked up the first issue, I just knew that I liked the cover art, and I liked the creative team on the book. I didn’t realize the depth that the story would have, or how detailed the artwork would be. I didn’t expect this book to be a murder mystery set in space, which takes a hard right turn into some inter-dimensional travel sci-fi epic. I think that if I had known going in the details of this book, I probably wouldn’t have been as interested in it as I am, because if you told me this book would be all of those things (especially within the span of just six issues) I would have assumed it would be a great big jumbled mess of storytelling. This book is anything but jumbled, or a mess, though- so bear that in mind if you’re not yet on board with Southern Cross.
This issue opens with the tail end of the confrontation between Alex Braith and the ship’s doctor (which, I am sure surprises no one- doesn’t go well…) and the crazed look of the doctor just drives home how messed up things have gotten. The detail of the artwork throughout this issue is stellar. I love how there are such expressive faces with the dark and detailed spaceship backgrounds. I really like how, as the story progresses throughout different parts of the ship that the color scheme changes- getting darker as Braith descends deeper into the ship.
I thought it felt odd that the captain would send Braith away just as things are getting most dangerous, and that the ship is potentially crashing/breaking apart/being sucked into some weird inter-dimensional portal by life forms from another dimension. The scene with Zia and Braith and the creepy guy from across the hall from Alex was the “turn” that seemed much less of a twist than expected- though, seeing Alex channeling some serious super-rage powers was a welcome sight (though the naked dead lady was something I could have done without).
Then we start to see more of the crazy geometric shapes in space, which are what demarcate the gate to another dimension. I really love the detail that Andy Belanger puts into his art- it just looks so detailed, so thoroughly thought out- there aren’t any flat black backgrounds, there is a lot of great detail, and it really sets this book apart. Also, even though it isn’t a “comedy” book, there are still some great (“great” being objective here) moments of humor, especially in this issue. In a moment that reads like the good-bad one-liner from a 90’s action B-movie, Braith punches the bad guy right in the mouth to stop him fleeing the ship with the artifact that seems to be the key to this whole crazy story, and she says- “Southern Cross Flight 73 to Loose Tooth City, NOW BOARDING!” then BAM! It was just a fun, silly moment, and one that I thoroughly didn’t expect, but that I enjoyed all the same.
The end of this issue is where logic seems to leave the equation for the captain of the Southern Cross and Alex Braith- not that their plan doesn’t have merit, just that it seems to be the most dangerous option, period. Braith and the Captain decide to go through the weird alien dimensional portal, and in advance of whatever seems to want to come through from the other side, go in and close it from the other side. I get why they are doing it, but it just seems like a pretty big leap for these two people who don’t seem to have much altruistic behavior in their pasts to facilitate this decision. But, if they don’t come to this decision, then the book ends rather abruptly, and nothing more exciting can happen. So in order for the story to work, they have to get this courage from somewhere and dive headfirst into the unknown to try and save all of humanity (and possibly our entire dimension).
I truly have no clue what is going to happen with this book going forward, and I couldn’t be more excited. I hope that we get some seriously detailed and inhuman looking alien/beings from another dimension in the next part of the story, because I really cant wait to see what Andy Belanger has cooked up for the next arc of this book. This book has done a lot of world (and universe) building in just six issues, and seemingly has blown all that up with the flip of a switch, sending our main cast of characters into the unknown. Though, there will still be some of the “terrestrial” side of things happening going forward, since we are introduced to some as-of-yet unnamed characters who seem more than a little miffed that the Southern Cross “disappeared” (see: went to a different plane of existence).
I have enjoyed this book a lot, and it has done a great job of subverting what few expectations I had about this story, and just being a well written and spectacularly drawn book that has been a really strange and interesting read. I think if you like stories with intrigue, murder mysteries, sci-fi elements and some really, REALLY gorgeous artwork- then this book is for you.