In this Cell by Cell, I look deeply into the panels of BITCH PLANET #6, pages 11-12, appreciating and analyzing the story and artistic composition. In these two pages, Mr. Braxton gets down to business with Makoto. And business is blackmail.
Kelly Sue DeConnick
In this Cell by Cell, I look deeply into pages 9 and 10 of BITCH PLANET #6, appreciating and analyzing the story and artistic composition. Mr. Braxton appropriates culture ignorantly, as a set of symbols without deeper meaning or larger context, and then assumes he knows the value of it. His attitude is of the imperialist, exploring and claiming what he sees as his right. He manipulates the vulnerability he has found in Makoto in the interest of taking even more in his sense of privilege and power.
In this Cell by Cell, I look deeply into the panels of pages 7-8 of ‘Bitch Planet’ #6, appreciating and analyzing the story and artistic composition. These two pages develop the relationship between Makoto and Meiko as he shows her the final blueprints of the spaceship they’ve designed together for the Protectorate.
DeConnick and De Landro blow the doors off the second arc with stark ironies, nauseating apathies, and contrasting raw emotions. Stakes get higher and allegiances get muddied as the lesson once again rears its ugly head: all bodies serve the Father–male and female, guard and prisoner, black and white. And bodies are disposable.
Carol Danvers is not just a fantasy about being powerful–she’s my fantasy that I can be powerful because my desires are powerful. She’s a fantasy that we are strong enough to triumph over our minds and bodies and misfortunes. Strong because of our misfortunes. Strong enough to be the people we choose to be.
It’s been four months wait since we last got a Bitch Planet fix. Despite that length of time, issue #6 does not disappoint. In fact, it amplifies the sound and fury of issue #5, offering ironic contrast to the characters of the present narrative by flashing back to the time of their innocence before the Protectorate squashed their dreams of building a better world. Guest artist Taki Soma brings a delicacy of line to the story, emphasizing that hope is a thing with feathers, but also hollow, fragile bones.
As the narrative of the final violent event plays out, the panels become more regular and more cinematic, mimicking the ratio of a theatrical widescreen. The chaotic action of the previous pages gets stripped down to reveal the horrifying realization of Meiko’s death. Once the guard does his evil deed, the story becomes entirely about the women’s responses.
As the violence ramps up to the issue’s conclusion, the action on the field and the layout of that action becomes more fragmented and chaotic. Faces are hyper-expressive, causing frustration, panic, and, in the case of Operative Whitney, smug enjoyment to leap off the page. A new layout presents a structural diagonal, as before intensifying the sense of tension and chaos. It also creates a disorienting zoom in, pull back effect, like a dolly zoom (or Vertigo effect) for the page.
The scene is packed with emotion: Yumi’s anger at what she feels is Makoto’s betrayal of their success and Makoto’s feelings of regret and entrapment. Use of color and lighting and the juxtaposition of the two different but related moments amplify the emotional impact to lead into the issue’s climactic moments.
Switching back to the double page spread, De Landro once again employs the bilateral symmetry to emphasize the two sides of the game. But unlike the previous score of the game, this one shows the clear power imbalance. Though the layout is symmetrical, the guards have the judge on their side, and it allows them to get away with illegal plays and unnecessary violence.
Switching back to the 8-panel structure for a two-person dialogue, these pages depict a conversation in the men’s bathroom between Maki and Carl, Father Josephson’s assistant. It appears straightforward enough, delving into Maki’s credentials for making the A.C.O. stadium but also exploring more of his anxieties. However, in the subtleties remain the intricacies of class and power and the structures that keep those without power from coming together in revolt.
The scrimmage between the NC team and the guards begins and sees its first score. An injury on the field creates a different score to be settled. Like with the previous pages depicting the team, these are given the two-page spread to emphasize the space of setting and give room for the many bodies in panels. De Landro creates a symmetrical mirroring of left and right on the double-page to emphasize the two sides of the game, the reactive antagonism within the story, as well as spotlight the Liu twins.
These pages show a literary communion. Josephson’s goal, by sharing drinks, is to bring them together in service of his plans for the ACO team and the financial betterment of the Duemila conference. However, at every panel break, we see the tension of the communion. Maki doesn’t want to be involved, and it is only through manipulative coercion that Josephson succeeds.