cover image Southern Cross, Vol. 1

Southern Cross, Vol. 1

Becky Cloonan, Andy Belanger, and Lee Loughridge. Image, $9.99 (160p), ISBN 978-1-63215-559-7

This uneasy blend of science fiction noir and horror comics, written by Cloonan (Gotham Academy), has a setup that's unrealistic even for SF. It's difficult to imagine a real-life system in which oil is pumped and refined on Titan, a moon of Saturn, and then shipped back to Earth on streamlined spaceships that resemble the anime Space Battleship Yamato! Punkish former thief Alex Braith is Titan-bound on the eponymous vessel, anxious to find out why her sister, Amber, was killed. But the trip itself becomes a terrifying ordeal. The ship's crew are alternately surly or unctuous, and generally creepy; the passenger across the hall is a member of her old criminal gang; her overly chatty cabinmate vanishes; and something is going terribly wrong with the gravity drive that powers the ship, as decaying but not-quite-dead people keep popping out of nowhere with cryptic warnings. The story is sharply illustrated in bold close-ups and eerie space vistas by Belanger and Loughridge. Readers who can get past the absurd setting will find that a puzzling mystery story is just getting started as the action breaks off at the end of this first volume. (Jan.)