When it comes to scary movies what’s the scariest part? If you said, “When the monster jumps out,” you’d be wrong. No, in fact it’s the moments before that monster pops out as the tension and sheer madness of anticipation is what gets all the tinglies activated.
So far Southern Cross has been very good at kicking up the tingles with an intense brooding story, but how is issue #3: is it good?
Southern Cross #3 (Image Comics)
Southern Cross is the name of a spaceship on its way to the moon of Titan. The protagonist is named Alex Braith and she’s there to uncover why her sister mysteriously died. The ship is filled with average joes making a living, but also a shady captain, a doctor who knows more than he’s telling and quite possibly some kind of ghost. All we know is the reactor giving the ship its gravity has what appears to be Alex’s sister’s ghost inside it. She doesn’t know that yet though, but she has more to worry about. Also, monsters may be afoot.
Scary scene as credits. Nice.
Writer Becky Cloonan delivers another strong issue with great dialogue and interesting character work. The Captain of the ship gets more time this issue to let his hair down and he’s a bit of a creepy dude. Clearly he knows something is up, but if it was as equally bad as this issue is creepy he should be running for the hills. What is it with captains of ships? They all lose their minds. This issue opens with the captain and from there bounces around, from a flashback to Alex’s childhood with her sister, to a shady character who works for a seemingly evil corporation. It all amounts to some interesting storytelling that keeps you on your toes. Hell there’s even a scene with Alex inspecting a video tape (how often are those used to creep us out at the movies) that suggests this whole thing is even more complicated than we thought.
“Do you wanna know how I got these scars?”
The art by Andy Belanger continues to be fantastic and the colours by Lee Loughridge are also tastefully muted and creepy. There’s no coincidence a sickly green is used in some of the creepier scene and later yellow in a tense sequence where Alex has little time. Something Belanger consistently does is a flat 2D panel to show where the character is spatially, but also to create a sense of claustrophobia. It’s a fantastic technique, particularly effective because it’s just never done in comics today. The last few pages, a scene between the mad Captain and Alex, are also well done as the tension rises and a monster literally comes off the page at us. I suppose my only gripe is there’s less detail around the panels as in previous issues, but that’s more of an extra I miss than anything affecting the quality of the issue.
Really the only issue I found with this issue was the final few pages. The captain spills his guts to Alex and I’m not really sure why. The motivation isn’t necessarily right there on the page. One could assume why he’s doing it, but it comes off as one of those cheap exposition dumps in movies to get the reader caught up on some things so we can get to the next scene. There may be an explanation down the road, but it’s not in this issue.
Is It Good?
I’m not sure I’ve enjoyed a horror comic as much as this. It’s scary in a way that makes you think and it’s done by a fantastically paced story and very strong characters.