If you’re coming to this post cold, know that this is spoiler-filled. You can find the earlier installments here: Part I. Part II. Part III. Part IV. I began this series shortly after reading Bitch Planet #1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick for the first time and needing to process the content to reach satisfaction. Hopefully I’m helping some others out during this process as well.
The cross-cutting ends and the narrative returns to Bitch Planet where Marian is being quite literally looked down upon by The Catholic. “I have forgiven you. But you must forgive yourself, Marian. Penance is a gift to the sinner. Your pain will be your salvation.” So she’s that kind of Catholic. In the second panel, featured behind the lips and speech bubble of the The Catholic is what the internet tells me is a “coffin” torture device of medieval times. The sinner would be placed in the coffin for many hours depending on the crime, often in a public square to be made example of, or even out in the sun where the person would slowly die while animals ate their flesh. Gruesome. But on theme since the Catholic church was often behind the use of these items during pushes like the Inquisition to punish and destroy blasphemers and witches. Adulterers too. Generally speaking, the non-compliant, since that’s all it often took to be declared a witch at such times.
Two guards start to put Marian in the coffin. “What is that thing? What are you going to do to me?” she demands of them. Meanwhile, one of the other prisoners, a woman wearing a red bandanna, declares, “I’m going down there.” “To do what?” another asks. “To do something. To not stand up here watching…” The other prisoners who were watching from the area above see her move into the fray with Marian. “What’s wrong with her?” one asks. “What’s wrong with us?” another responds. Like with Penny’s start of the riot, the women need a leader to step forward to organize them, but it is not a leader who tells them what to do, but one who will model what to do so that the others might follow.
The woman in the red bandanna clearly doesn’t have a plan. Instead she simply starts with a distraction: “Hey! Hey! That stick make you feel like a big man?!” Her taunt is necessarily gendered. These non-compliant women are threats to the societal power of masculinity. The guards tell her it isn’t her business, call her girl. Their rejoinder reverses the gendered taunt: Yes, we are men with big sticks (dicks). Adults with power. You are a child with a sexuality to be concealed and controlled.
But at the far right of the panel is that “born BIG” tattoo. Penny’s ready to start another fight. Now, that’s a distraction.
Marian repeats her leifmotif–“I don’t belong here.” Behind her the wild haired woman grabs her hand and tells her to stay behind her. Penny continues to distract the guards. A subset panel transitions between Bitch Planet and Earth. The operator reports: “I’ve got a message about the Collins woman.” The Earth panel shows an overhead shot of Mr. Collins and Mr. Solanza. Solanza is saying, “Mr. Collins, your wife…” His speech bubble hangs over the shadow of a new person to the scene. We think the message to the Operator is to get Marian Collins out of Bitch Planet. Perhaps that shadow belongs to Solanza’s secretary…
But, no, this is the horrifying reveal, the payoff to all that cross-cutting earlier.
The shadow woman runs into Mr. Collins’ arms, and he yells, “DAWN!” This is his mistress, now his new wife. All of this negotiating has been for her benefit, not Marian’s. The two exchange nausea-inducing love cliches. Solanza explains that since Mr. Collins had paid for bureaucratic expediency, the warrant for Marian was never marked fulfilled. The new Mrs. Collins (Dawn) was picked up after a second warrant was issued for the same address.
“I understand. I shouldn’t have tried to circumvent–” Mr. Collins begins. Dawn breaks in, “We just wanted to start our lives together!” The new start, as connoted in Dawn’s name, was predicated on sending the old Mrs. Collins far, far away. But apparently that’s not enough. Solanza responds to her statement, “And now you shall, my dear. And as a courtesy…”
The next page cuts back to the Operators and Bitch Planet with continuing dialogue from Solanza. “…[W]ith no admission of culpability…” (Mr. Collins’ culpability or the government’s?) The Operator announces and opens a “red window” for Marian Collins. “…[T]he Council of Fathers has approved certain steps being taken…” A guard gets the message from the Operator and hands a knife to a black, female hand. “The blonde,” he instructs her. “…[T]o ensure the two of you need never worry about this sort of thing again.” The wild-haired woman stands defensive guard over a crouched Marian as four guards with batons consider closing in. Why don’t they close in? Because they have orders to wait, most certainly.
Continued in Part VI.