I return from the short break to continue the close reading of Bitch Planet #1 by Kelly Sue Deconnick. This particular installment is going to be briefer than the previous three, since other responsibilities have impeded my writing. Alas, life.
This is where the panel structure of the comic gets wickedly brilliant by cross-cutting between The Catholic’s interview with Marian Collins on Bitch Planet and Solanza’s interview with Mr. Collins back on Earth. The Bitch Planet panels have a blue background and female characters, while Earth’s beige and male contrasts to easily keep clear the two lines of action. Cross-cutting in film is meant to create a direct relationship between the two scenes. Viewers will assume there is a connection through the juxtaposition–perhaps the scenes are happening simultaneously or even two different sides of the same wall. The climax of Silence of the Lambs uses the cross-cutting to surprise the viewer when we find out it is Clarice outside of Buffalo Bill’s house, not the FBI raid squad. Well, Bitch Planet does this too.
To emphasize the relationship-making of the cross-cutting, Kelly Sue Deconnick deliberately merges the dialogue through repetition of phrases shared by both Mr. and Mrs. Collins. In spots they even seem to finish each other’s sentences. We get the backstory of how Marian ended up NC. Mr. Collins admits first that he had an affair, but Marian fills in that she drove him to it. How does a woman drive her husband to an affair? Did she give him a ride to the mistress’s apartment? No, but this illuminates the expectations of compliance. She didn’t want to have sex with him. She was non-compliant. He found a woman who would be compliant.
Marian then explains that she was devastated when she found out about the affair. She threatened him. Mr. Collins says, “She went crazy! I didn’t feel safe!” He went to the authorities of compliance. They said they couldn’t do anything on her first infraction, so he paid them off.
Meanwhile Marian changed her behavior and forgave her husband. Mr. Collins, in the next panel, states, “Just like that it was fixed! And it was like…starting over. We put all the ugliness behind us. Moved on.” Because of the juxtaposition of panels, the reader thinks it is Marian’s change of heart that fixed things, but this is part of the deception of the narrative. Mr. Solanza suggests he could sort things out but that it might take a while. Mr. Collins hands over another pay-off to grease the bureaucratic wheels. Solanza changes his tune.
These men, bargaining over the life of a woman, are “ick” inducing. She’s escaping riot violence. It’s clear every moment counts to get her out of the traumatic situation of Bitch Planet. Solanza’s smiling distance is even more terrifying than The Catholic’s soulless eyes and condescending religiousness. But this is only ramping up to the truly horrifying climax of the issue.
To be continued in Part V.