One of the most intense series due to a slow building horror is upon us again this week. Is it good?
Southern Cross #5 (Image Comics)
To say this series nails the haunting nature of a quiet room is an understatement. Something is brewing inside this spaceship on its way to Titan (one of the moons of Jupiter) and it’s definitely evil. Alex Braith is on the ship to find out why her sister died and figured out a few things are fishy on the ship. Plus the gravity drive is acting weird and her sister may or may not be a ghost inside the powersource. A lot of stuff is building, with weird corpses showing up, doctors trying to drug people and a captain who’s a bit mad. This is however the penultimate issue which tends to be the setup bridge issue to get us ready for the big payoff ending.
Wait…it looks like he’s screaming yet there’s no exclamation points!
Writer Becky Cloonan does a good job in that regard, I’ll give her that. The problem though is there’s a lot of exposition here. It reads like characters are talking out loud to get on with it already. Braith doesn’t have to do much to get info out of people and after a few well placed “I’m going to make you think I know more than I do” questions they just spill. It’s unfortunate because it has been gloriously well paced and unnerving up until this point. It may be possible this series was cancelled earlier than it should have been, but even if that’s true it doesn’t play well enough here.
The big idea that’s sort of kind of revealed at the end is fascinating though, even if it’s still not clear what is happening. I’m sure all will be revealed next issue, but it does end on a high note with a lot of shit hitting the fan. This big idea is so freaking rad I could see this series easily being picked up for TV or a movie; it just needs a bit more time between this ending and the last issue to be stronger.
I don’t want to say Andy Belanger saves this issue, but Andy Belanger saves this issue. He continues to wow me with his amazing layouts and interesting details in the ship. Hell, even the opening credits page continues to be impressive as he weaves in the creator names and publisher info. He delivers yet another side scrolling page as Braith and the good doctor walk through the ship and at some point my irrational wish to have more of them almost got the better of me. Nope. I want more of those Belanger!
Love those stars.
The way he’s drawn the stars shining through the ship windows also draws you in very nicely. The blocking of the scene of Braith getting people to spill works wonders too. It’s intense and dramatic; sure, it feels somewhat forced, but it looks really nice. Then later as the ship tumbles like a bad Star Trek episode so do the panels, getting twisted and turned in effective fashion.
Okay, I do have one gripe and that’s the faces. Things get a little out of hand later in the issue with Braith losing her distinct features, or characters’ noses not looking quite right. I also don’t like the beard on the captain. It just doesn’t look right to me, but those are minor quibbles.
Lee Loughridge also continues to do a fantastic job on colors making things pop. The intense scene of Braith questioning people works really well due to the bright yellow and sickly green used. It’s very stark and helps break up the scenes in the issue.
Best damn credits page in the comic industry!
Is It Good?
I wanted to love this issue, but only liked it due to some fantastic art and coloring. The issue climaxes very well, but too much exposition and a narrative that feels forced and rush make this a not-so-perfect read.