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?
My favourite part of this comic was the colours. How these three narratives use colours to build their narrative arcs.
Amanda’s is all golden yellows, as our hero fighting the fascists. Static, as she remains static throughout the issue
Freeman is in purple, a colour of power. But also a dark colour trapping him in shadows. WHile his soldiers are in red, a colour of danger. A red that exists only until they reach the storage unit, where the colours turn yellow as they intrude on Amanda’s world (and building the tensiont that they will find her), until it all flashes red as they die and we learn they were never near Amanda
Meanwhile, Xing is in a dark grey. She’s always been a wild card because she’s been suffocating under the weight of oppression, a weight that is palpable. It is hard not to be reminded of Freeman’s colours above, that make you fear that she could be losing to them. The tension comes from teh fact that we don’t know whether she can withstand the overwhelming oppression that the colours represent, and her ability to withstand will decide Amanda’s fate. But her talk to her mother, entering a golden light similar to Amanda’s, gives her strength and reminds her of the importance of maintaining her individuality. She can’t escape the dark and must return, but that thematic reunion with Amanda is everything she needs to get strength to withstand it. ANd so, she starts praying for Amanda’s success. And ends the issue looking resolute to the camera. She’s trapped int he dark, but she has found the inspirations he needed to keep fighting, after 4 issues that tested her and tested her.
ALl of that, primarily handled through the colours and the panel structure. A truly fantastic issue
Yeah, the colors are quick, easy way to establish the tone of each of these stories. And it’s really cool to see those colors on the opposite end of the spectrum (violet and red) sorta strobing in that middle panel. Freeman’s so chill and easy with his words (and subsequent drinking), but they have such violent consequences.