BIN SIFTIN’ with Rene LeClair: SOUTHERN CROSS #1 – IMAGE COMICS

Writer/ Becky Cloonan   Artist/Andy Belanger  Colours/ Lee Loughridge

I was at a loss as to what to choose for this week’s review, but I looked through my stuff and found a fairly recent little something called Southern Cross #1.

Southern Cross #1aIt’s always cool to see a comic from a Canadian team, folks. Well, Becky Cloonan is from the States, but now lives in Montreal. Andy Belanger IS Canadian and from Toronto I believe, but is based out of Montreal as well.

Becky’s been making a great name for herself over the years, not only as the self-published writer and artist of her own excellent work such as Demeter, Wolves and The Mire, but also in high-profile comics over at the big publishers. Heck, in 2012, Becky was the first woman to draw an issue of the main Batman series. It was, of course, kick-ass.

Not only is her issue of Batman kick-ass, but in 2013, Moncton had its first ever comic book convention. It was called the East Coast Comics Expo and we had the pleasure of having both Becky and Andy down for the event. There were a few other guests such as Ramón Pérez, Brenda Hickey, Troy Little and Moncton’s own Nick Bradshaw. The convention was small that first year, but everyone involved with it, then and to this day, is passionate about comics, community minded and out to make sure that the talent have the best visit to Maritimes they could possibly have. Both Nick and Ramón were working on Wolverine and the X-Men at the time, and I was lucky Southern Cross #1benough to get them to each sketch a character on the blank cover of #1. Nick drew Quentin Quire, aka: Kid Omega, and Ramon drew Broo, aka: Broo. One of few, true “pride & joy” category issues in my now disgustingly vast collection. Another such issue is a signed copy of Becky’s Batman #12.

All I can say is that both Becky and Andy put in a great many hours working their tables at the ECCE, sketching, signing and participating in discussion panels. The fans got more out of those two than they could have hoped. They we’re great folks to talk shop with and excellent folks to party with. Nerds know how to get down and don’t you forget it. If ever you fine folks find yourself in New Brunswick on the 3rd Saturday of May of any year, do yourself a favour and drop in on the East Coast Comic Expo. You won’t regret it.

Southern Cross #1cAt the time, Andy had done some work on DC Comic’s New 52 Swamp Thing. His style lends itself so well to the dark and murky nature of Swamp Thing stories, but the stuff of his that I really adore is his indie stuff like black & white mini comic Black Church. This book comes in a neat 7″x7″ format made to look like an EP, complete with a record jacket which makes it look so friggin’ metal. In Black Church, it’s 1430 and Vlad Dracul and his brother are escaping their Turkish captors. The rise of a prophecy about his son Dracula being the Antichrist forces Vlad to face difficult decisions in regards to his country. Metal.

Southern Cross #1dI think this is why I like Southern Cross so much. It feels like an indie comic, mainly because it sort of is, really, coming out of small Montreal-based Studio Lounak, but is published by Image Comics, which guarantees a North American, if not global, distribution.

Southern Cross, in this case, is a giant tanker of a spaceship taking off to a mining colony on Titan (the moon of Saturn, I’m assuming) and tells the story of Alex Braith as she journeys to collect the remains of her now passed sister. She died mysteriously, it would seem, and this issue only raises more questions as to what exactly brought on her death as we find out she wasn’t a high risk miner, but worked in an administration office. Alex clearly has some emotional issues relating to her past and her sibling and spends a lot of time in her own head in this first issue Southern Cross #1eas she wanders the many sprawling corridors of the ship. Andy’s art, I should mention, seemingly rolls out in almost a stream of consciousness kind of way as we discover with Alex the enormity of this ship. From passenger barracks to the engine room’s gravity drive to mind expanding space vistas, this book looks great. I also really dig the graphic designs at the end of the book highlighting space footwear, corporate logos, character designs and ship blueprints. It’s the little things that count.

The trip is just beginning for Alex. She’s got a chatty bunkmate for the voyage and is going to be on this ship for a week before getting to Titan. Anything can (and probably will) happen. Plus, what’s up with that across-the-hall neighbour of hers? He’s up to no good, I’m sure.

Southern Cross#1f

Southern Cross is out monthly in single issues now, if you can’t wait to see what Becky and Andy have in store for us, but Volume 1 will be in stores in November. Check it out! – RENE

(Rene LeClair is an avid comic book reader and works at Comic Hunter in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, spreading the word to all who love comics as well.  He is also a fantastic musician who currently plays with a great band called FEAR AGENT.  Rene has been at his music for years, including stints with Longtimers, Four Frames, and the amazing Dead City Rebels.  At the Comic Hunter (Moncton/Charlottetown) they easily have the biggest selection in the Maritimes for all your nerdy needs. They specialize in comic books w/ over 250k back issues, an immense library of graphic novels as well as a seemingly endless selection of board/card games. Whether you find yourself that side of Quebec or not, they’ll ship anywhere. Visit their website and contact them HERE.)