by Patrick Ehlers
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Why am I watching this scene?
Screenwriter Advice, Traditional
While the “who,” “what,” and “where” of a scene is crucial to the audience’s understanding of what they’re experiencing in the moment, it’s the “why” of a scene that ends up being the most meaningful. If there’s no reason for the scene, then it doesn’t belong in the piece. This is one of those pieces of writerly advice that’s actually kind of intuitive, and readers and audiences feel it without having to be told. If we start reading about a man climbing a tree, then we assume something happens to him in that tree. Writer Aleš Kot and artist Danijel Žeželj take the conflict inherent the mere existence of a scene — three scenes, actually — to tease out a slowly burning tension-inferno in Days of Hate 5.
Three scenes. Amanda, Freeman, Xing. That’s how they’re staged on the page, the two lovers and co-revolutionaries, separated by the fascist asshole trying to quash their rebellion. Kot and Žeželj establish the characters, moods and settings as efficiently as possible.
Amanda’s location was given in a chyron on the previous page: “Kansas City, Missouri.” Kot didn’t need to include that information, but it’s helpful to keep the reader’s attention focused on what could happen next. We know where we are, we know who we are; but why are we seeing this? That’s the only question the reader is left to mull over.
Of course, Freeman wants us to think that the reason we’re seeing these scenes in because he’s going to order a raid on Amanda’s storage unit / weapon cache. He’s the first to speak, the most assertive and full of bluster. But he also gets out of the way pretty early. After a scant two pages, Freeman starts trading his middle panel with a squad of paramilitary goons en route to gun down Amanda. Freeman is afforded some insane distance between his words and his ideology enacted. Meanwhile, the top and bottom panels stay with Amanda and Xing respectively as they await the inevitable.
It’s scary shit — a whole issue of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m not sure whether to be encouraged or discouraged by Xing’s exchange with her mother. While Freeman uses his words in this issue to silence his enemies, Xing explores something her mother told her when she was younger. Leading us to ask the question: are we reading this issue because Amanda’s going to die? Or are we reading this issue because Xing is about to make a decision about her role in the resistance? It’s both.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?