Here comes the continuing analysis of Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro’s Bitch Planet #2. Spoilers for pages 6-11! If you’d like to see Part I, click here.
The title page repeats the imagery from Issue #1 of the women entering Bitch Planet, having been stripped of clothing, showered, they’re now greeted by one of the Barbie-pink hologram women. The unattributed dialogue bridges the two scenes. It could be the welcome greeting to the women, but it also seems to be a continuation of the conversation between Solanza and Father Josephson: “Tell us how you can be of service…The Fathers are deeply invested in the betterment of us all.” The dual purpose these lines serve emphasizes the hypocrisy of the Fathers as well as the system at Bitch Planet. These women are not better off. The system does not look to their betterment in any way most of us would understand.
In fact, in the next scene we see Bitch Planet’s system attempting to break Kamau and convince her that she was the one who killed Marian last issue. We find out that she’s been in solitary for 18 hours without sleep, food, or water. They’re moving on to phase 2 of breaking her, which entails the “confession module.”
Confession module comes to her in the form of a large, pink (as always) dominatrix-style hologram. The hologram uses a classic guilt strategy to elicit the confession. The hologram points out that Marian’s death has left a motherless son, that she leaves behind a brother and sister, that Marian will never see her boy grow to be a man. The hologram then pulls out a bunch of insulting accusations: Was Kamau jealous of Marian’s beauty or her skin? Is Kamau an animal? These are racial stereotypes repurposed for the module.
It is interesting that no mention of Mr. Collins is made–after all, Kamau doesn’t know that Mr. Collins is an unfaithful, duplicitous d-bag–but he is pictured on some of the screens behind the hologram, flashing pictures of Marian’s life. In fact, the array of pictures we get on the screens seems off for the module’s purposes. We get one picture of her baby son, a couple more with various family members. We get one garish shot of her eating. Two more explicit sex shots. It is unclear how some of these pictures are meant to work on Kamau. It perhaps shows more about what obsesses the system: for women, eating, family, sex. There is a shopping picture but no indication of her at work. The view is invasive and limiting, just like society’s eye.
The module goes in for the kill, demanding, “Why would you kill her?”
But the module has not worked on Kamau. She is not brain-washed. She is not broken. She responds, “No. Stop. You lie!” then punches a screen, shattering the glass and symbolically breaking through the propaganda and untruths they’ve been feeding her. This is a symbol for the many women in this comic book, and throughout the world, who see the expectations of the Fathers or the patriarchy, especially through mediated images and ideas, and see them for the lies, propaganda, and untruths that they are. Kamau is going to be set up as a champion for non-compliance in the plot, but she is resonates as an idea for non-compliance in the larger culture, both theirs and ours.
The men who run the modules are impressed. They’ve never seen a woman like Kamau up against the module, and they’ve never seen someone break the “shatter-proof” glass. This elicits an order that surprises Schiti–transfer room 6 to specials. This means sending in a special operative. A woman. Flesh and blood, not light and reflection. Her name is Whitney. She is dressed in full combat gear. Clearly, she expects violence to ensue. And clearly Kamau has presented a very special case.