With Should I Be Reading… ?, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today.

Ever since Saga set a new standard for indie comics success in 2012, there's been an explosion of American sci-fi comics, many of them from Saga publisher Image Comics. Of these, one of the biggest standouts is Southern Cross, which has created a compelling, dense world with stunning visuals and gripping mysteries in just its first six issues.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

In the distant future, humanity has achieved interplanetary travel and the megacorporation Zemi runs everything, from starships to shoes to food. Zemei is also in charge of the oil drilling trade that involves transporting workers from Earth to Jupiter's moon Titan and back for six months at a time.

Looking for answers about her sister Amber's mysterious death on Titan, ex-felon Alex Braith boards the tanker starship Southern Cross. Expecting nothing more than an unpleasant voyage, Alex finds herself drawn into a conspiracy involving suicide, drugs, and the mysterious pulses of the ship's gravity drive... and the ghosts it contains.

 

From Southern Cross #1. Andy Belanger.

 

WHO'S IT BY?

Southern Cross is written by Becky Cloonan, drawn by Andy Belanger, colored by Lee Loughridge, and lettered by Serge LaPointe.

Cloonan, who also provides covers for the series, currently also writes The Punisher for Marvel and co-writes Gotham Academy for DC with Brendan Fletcher. Having self-published a number of minicomics, she hit the mainstream with the Eisner-nominated East Coast Rising, and her artwork on the Vertigo series Demo and American Virgin. She's contributed stories to Swamp Thing and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, among others and in 2012, she made history as the first woman to draw an issue of Batman.

Belanger --- Cloonan's studiomate in the Montreal-based collective Studio Lounak -- was the regular series artist for IDW's Kill Shakespeare, and has pencilled and inked for series like Swamp ThingAnimal Man and Judge Dredd. He's also self-published work in Black Church and the anthology series True Patriot.

Loughridge has colored hundreds of titles, including The Batman AdventuresDeadly Class and Stumptown. LaPointe has lettered books including Gotham AcademyBatgirl, and Ultimate X-Men.

WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?

Cloonan is no stranger to creating compelling yet flawed leads and that's exactly what Alex is. She's devoted to finding out what happened to her sister, and she's haunted about things she's said and done. She clashes well with the crew aboard the Southern Cross, including Captain Mori, prickly first mate St. Martin, shady doctor Lon, and creepy passenger Krayl.

 

From Southern Cross #3. Andy Belanger.

 

The true stars of the series, though, are Belanger and Loughridge. Working perfectly in sync, they give us a cast of wonderfully drawn characters --- Alex has one of the best sneers in comics --- and, at least once per issue, they provide either a gorgeous outer space visual or some psychedelic cosmic imagery. Their blending of 2-D and computer elements are jaw-dropping, and it's a trip to realize their storytelling even bleeds onto the credits page and continues all the way through the design of the book.

 

From Southern Cross #4. Andy Belanger.

 

Melded with a compelling mystery and a great cast, this SF noir looks and feels like nothing else Image puts out.

WHO SHOULD READ IT?

Fans of Cloonan and/or Belanger's other work. Anyone who regularly listens to old Toonami soundtracks and techno groups like Glitch Mob. Fans of DescenderTrillium, Plutona, and the cosmic space stories of either of the Big Two, and particularly fans of Jim Starlin.

 

Detail from southerncrosscomic.tumblr.com. Andy Belanger.

 

WHERE CAN I BUY IT?

Southern Cross is available digitally and in print from a variety of retailers. A trade paperback collecting all six issues to date is also available. The series resumes publication with issue #7 on September 24th 2016.

Concept art and behind-the-scenes info are available on Tumblr (Warning: Flashing lights at link) and Instagram.