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Every Body Serves the Fathers in ‘Bitch Planet’ #7

BitchPlanet_07-1Bitch Planet #7
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art by Valentine De Landro
Colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Published February 17, 2016 by Image Comics

 

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.

For all of the language of the Protectorate as a father, Father Josephson is cold to the plight of fathers in the issue. The opening page depicts institutionalized murder of three black children taking a shortcut across Megaton Corporation’s lawn and thus setting off a trespassing alarm. The guard on duty casually orders their “neutralization” in a barely exaggerated fictionalization of the Tamir Rice and Michael Brown killings. Megaton Corp, despite its “personhood” under the law, has no concern for these children or their families. Their fathers will not get answers nor justice. And Father Josephson, the government-labelled father of the people, has no nurture in his nature. Entirely unaware of the cause of the incoming ambulances outside his window, he stresses to Solanza that he needs Maki to finish the arena in six weeks. Maki’s feelings regarding his daughter’s death are an inconvenience to be dealt with after that. Even Roberto Solanza, manager of Bitch Planet itself, has qualms about keeping the news from Makoto. But Father Josephson throws around the name of the Dollar Almighty and silences Solanza.

Read the rest of my review at PopOptiq.com.


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Meiko’s Backstory Sings With Reverberations in ‘Bitch Planet’ #6

BitchPlanet_06-1Bitch Planet #6
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art by Taki Soma
Cover by Valentine De Landro
Colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Published by Image Comics on January 6, 2016
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.

Issue #6 relates Meiko Maki’s backstory and kicks off with a stark content warning for sexual assault. I revisit it here since I will be talking about the events of the issue, including the depicted sexual assault. For those wanting to avoid it altogether, issue #7 will pick up with the main storyline and not reference the assault in the summary.BitchPlanet06_Gallery_2

Issue #5 left Meiko Maki–our feisty, buoyant, rebellious Meiko–dead on the floor during the N.C. Megaton team’s scrimmage with the guards. Her father, meanwhile, was putting everything on the line to see her by accepting the job from Father Josephson to build an off-world arena. The tension of knowing he was too late twisted the knife of the loss of a beloved character.

Issue #6 fills in the backstory of how Meiko ended up incarcerated at the A.C.O. Although we might have gotten this story prior to her death to give more context, the reverberations backward are even more emotionally devastating. The dramatic irony of already knowing how all this ends up sings throughout the issue, giving her actions a shade of depressing futility. As Yume states, “The world is so broken. Our only mistake was thinking [our girls] wouldn’t be broken too.”

To read the rest of my review, click through to PopOptiq.com.

http://www.popoptiq.com/bitch-planet-6-review/

 


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Cell by Cell: ‘Bitch Planet’ #5 (Part 11)

BitchPlanet05Cover

Kelly Sue Deconnick (writer), Valentine De Landro (artist), Image Comics

In Cell by Cell, I look deeply into the panels of an issue, appreciating and analyzing the story and artistic composition.

Pages 23-25 Overview

The final three pages drop the symmetrical structure because the power balance has been thrown so far askew that there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the game is entirely rigged. The double-page spread of 23-24 has no symmetry at all, instead having four panels each in entirely different sizes and layouts.

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.

To read the full article, go to PopOptiq.com!

http://www.popoptiq.com/cell-by-cell-bitch-planet-5-part-11/

BP5-23-25

 


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Cell by Cell: ‘Bitch Planet’ #5 (Part 10)

BitchPlanet05Cover

Kelly Sue Deconnick (writer), Valentine De Landro (artist), Image Comics

In Cell by Cell, I look deeply into the panels of an issue, appreciating and analyzing the story and artistic composition.

Pages 21-22 Overview

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:

It’s a technique that expresses two concurrent qualities: disorientation and realization. Certainly, punches in the face are disorienting, but worse is the realization that Meiko is left entirely unguarded.

The diagonal lines of narrative created by the littlest panels featuring close-ups of Penny’s face and fist can be read in multiple directions, as long as the bottom right panel is read last, indicating her sudden realization and panic about being distracted from her defensive duties. They can also be read as happening concurrent to the panels featuring Kam, Alika, and Meiko, creating a heightened sense of chaos.

For the rest of the analysis of these pages, click through to the full article on PopOptiq.

http://www.popoptiq.com/cell-by-cell-bitch-planet-5-part-10/

BP5-21-22

 


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Cell by Cell: ‘Bitch Planet’ #5 (Part 9)

BitchPlanet05Cover

Kelly Sue Deconnick (writer), Valentine De Landro (artist), Image Comics

In Cell by Cell, I look deeply into the panels of an issue, appreciating and analyzing the story and artistic composition.

Pages 19-20 Overview

This is it. The beginning of the end. The finale of the episode. Here comes the heartbreak.

Keeping the 2-page, symmetrical spread of the game scenes, these two pages kick off a 6-page action scene depicting the end of the scrimmage match between the N.C. team and the A.C.O. guards.

The antagonism continues to rise as a guard picks a fight with Penny. Unable to let the aggressions pass, Penny gets distracted from her defensive duty, allowing another team member to get double-teamed and escalating further violence with the guards.

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Cell 1 
is a close-up of a sweaty Meiko, smiling exactly like she was in the family picture at the end of the last page. To emphasize the connection, dialogue from Makoto, the closing bit of his argument with Yumi, is placed in a special box above her head: “Because she is our little girl.” BP5-19-1If this dialogue were coming from Josephson, it would seem condescending. From Makoto, though, it captures his regret that she’s gone. He misses the simpler time of her youth, before non-compliance. In spite of her criminal label, he attempts to maintain that relationship in his heart, reminds his wife of it. All that emotion is juxtaposed with Meiko’s indefatigable spirit. Her smile and her call for Kamau to give them the next play.

 

Read the rest of my analysis over at PopOptiq.

http://www.popoptiq.com/cell-by-cell-bitch-planet-5-part-9/


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Cell by Cell: ‘Bitch Planet’ #5 (Part 8)

BitchPlanet05Cover

Kelly Sue Deconnick (writer), Valentine De Landro (artist), Image Comics

In Cell by Cell, I look deeply into the panels of an issue, appreciating and analyzing the story and artistic composition.

Pages 17-18 Overview

This is the last part of the B-story of the issue. The 2-page scene splices together two dramatic moments: when the Makoto Maki tells his wife about the job, and the reflection in the car afterward. The merging of the two scenes is created in the familiar 8-panel dialogue page structure.

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.

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Page 17

Cell 1 and 2 give an establishing shot of the city split over two panels but continuous in the imagery. It’s reminiscent of the classic futuristic dystopia in Blade Runner, another setting that has off-world colonization. The city appears overcrowded, with elevated streets and tall buildings densely packed. Screens shine white on the gray, evidencing the advanced technology and importance of mediated message, while the familiar pink and blue color palette tints the asphalt. Yellow is added to the long shots, picking up the yellow in Yumi’s jacket and Makoto’s skin tone. The yellow suggests a third category to the compliant/non-compliant dichotomy symbolized in the prevalent blue/red (pink) palette. This couple finds themselves uncomfortably jockeying to stay compliant, but ultimately they’re being marginalized to another space altogether.

Read the rest of my analysis of these pages at PopOptiq.

http://www.popoptiq.com/cell-by-cell-bitch-planet-5-part-8/

 

BP5-18-7-8

 


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Cell by Cell: ‘Bitch Planet’ #5 (Part 7)

BitchPlanet05Cover

Kelly Sue Deconnick (writer), Valentine De Landro (artist), Image Comics

In Cell by Cell, I look deeply into the panels of an issue, appreciating and analyzing the story and artistic composition.

Pages 15-16 Overview

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.

Centralized in the page is the battle of wills between Kamau and Operative Whitney, but the battle is entirely one-sided. Kam has almost no power in this situation. Still, she stands up for her team and makes her voice heard.

BP5-15-16

 

Cell 1 spans the two pages. On the left side, taking up the bulk of the panel, is Penny getting tackled by two guards at once, double-teaming her. One appears to throw a punch. She yells in response. On the right side, Kam calls a foul. Her partial crouch shows her attention to seeing all of what’s happening to Penny down on the floor. This is the most important moment of the page and thus gets the largest panel. The extra-wide panel transitions the reader out of the small, enclosed spaces of offices and bathrooms in the parallel storyline and into the large expanse of the A.C.O. gym turned arena.

For the rest of my analysis, click through to PopOptiq.

http://www.popoptiq.com/cell-by-cell-bitch-planet-5-part-7/


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Cell by Cell: ‘Bitch Planet’ #5 (Part 6)

BitchPlanet05Cover

Kelly Sue Deconnick (writer), Valentine De Landro (artist), Image Comics

In Cell by Cell, I look deeply into the panels of an issue, appreciating and analyzing the story and artistic composition.

Pages 13-14 Overview

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.

This conversation occurs between two people under the thumb of Father Josephson. Carl speaks to Maki in a casual, joking manner, a level of ease assumed by their similarity of station. While Maki doesn’t exactly open up about the source of his anxiety, he does offer a joke at the expense of the rich to return the camaraderie Carl has initiated.

For the rest of my analysis, click through to PopOptiq.

http://www.popoptiq.com/cell-by-cell-bitch-planet-5-part-6/

BP5-14-7-8

 


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Cell By Cell: ‘Bitch Planet’ #5 (Part 5)

BitchPlanet05Cover

Kelly Sue Deconnick (writer), Valentine De Landro (artist), Image Comics

In Cell by Cell, I look deeply into the panels of an issue, appreciating and analyzing the story and artistic composition.

Pages 11-12 Overview

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.

BP5-11-12-full

Cells 1 & 2 stretch the entire width of the two pages, establishing the space of the arena which appears to be a modified exercise yard and then the pre-game posturing of the two teams. An announcer tells us who they are: “The A.C.O. Naughty N.C.s versus the A.C.O. Grappling Guards.” The guards have their arms up in postures of bravado. This practice bout is for “education and entertainment.” The entertainment part is clear, but who is being educated and in what way is ambiguous. Certainly the NC team is still learning how to be better players, but they’re also about to learn (again) that the rules made and enforced by others will always be used (sometimes quite flexibly) against them.

For the rest of the analysis, click through to PopOptiq.

http://www.popoptiq.com/cell-by-cell-bitch-planet-5-part-5/


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Cell By Cell: ‘Bitch Planet’ #5 (Part 4)

BitchPlanet05Cover

Kelly Sue Deconnick (writer), Valentine De Landro (artist), Image Comics

In Cell by Cell, I look deeply into the panels of an issue, appreciating and analyzing the story and artistic composition.

Pages 9-10 Overview

With the turn of a page, the issue takes us back to the conversation between Father Josephson and Makoto “Mack” Maki. Gone are the assistant and the video screen. Tonally this scene is more intimate and more subdued. Emphasis has to be on the emotional shifts, and they are subtle. Maki keeps his internal thoughts and emotions tightly guarded, and Valentine De Landro has to subtly show them and cannot risk distraction.

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 coersion that Josephson succeeds. BP5-9-10-full

Page 9

Cell 1: Josephson is foregrounded, though we see only his torso. He’s taking up space, being afforded, visually, a casual importance. He pours two drinks, an act of communion to connect on the issue at hand. Maki sits on the couch behind him, visually much smaller, facing away from Josephson slightly. Even in this long shot De Landro expresses Maki’s worry through the tilt of his eyebrows. He says, “Six weeks isn’t a lot of time.”

 

Read the rest of my analysis over at PopOptiq!

http://www.popoptiq.com/cell-by-cell-bitch-planet-5-part-4/