Review: Bitch Planet #1
In this first issue of Bitch Planet, a gargantuan woman trucks a prison warden, demanding clothing that will fit both of her “FUCKING TITS,” as she says it. This is a ridiculous comic book, filled with loads of boisterous, violent women and reasons to laugh and grin with cathartic satisfaction. Behind the foreground of brutal takedowns and dumb fun is a cavalcade of rich thematic beats, all buoying a wholesome feminist message. Kelly Sue DeConnick knocks it out of the park with this debut issue, working with her artist Valentine De Landro to deliver a multifaceted mash-up of stupid comic booking and intellectual storytelling.
DeConnick is indeed trying really hard to nail a solid thrust of feminism in this comic, something made obvious by an essay on the subject of modern feminism in the back of the book from a college professor. What she comes up with in this script is something that totally pulls it off without coming across as ham-fistedly overt. A distinctly patriarchal system of seeing women as disposable play-things is visible in the nooks and crannies of this wacky set-up. Particularly despicable interactions among men, having conversations that ultimately reveal their plans to use women for their sex and their entertainment and their sadistic release and then casting them away, reveal a future world that institutionalizes misogyny to a deplorable degree.
Bitch Planet doesn’t exactly attempt to offer a realistic depiction of modern society, but a symbolic exaggeration that maintains the same essential issues like body image, sexual objectification, and violence against women. In its own weird way, Bitch Planet is believable, not because a planet devoted to imprisoning women seen as “noncompliant” is much like anything in the real-world on the surface, but because it is rooted in the same issues in such a way that it feels like a natural extension. Women are oppressed, and this comic mirrors that sad fact of today in way that leaves an impression.
In a more literal sense, however, Bitch Planet is about a planet holding a huge load of angry, often obnoxious women. The guards treat them horribly, getting a kick at their expense to waste away the rest of their day at work. The more and more evil and powerful the establishment is built up to be, the more and more satisfying it is to see the gruesome comeback of these women. The skulls getting cracked and the noses getting squished against fists feels a whole lot better knowing it’s from strong women (diverse in race and body type, might I add) lashing out, frustrated, against the system. Bitch Planet simply feels good.
Essential to this comic’s success is the art, which sets the scene perfectly for the atmosphere being attempted here. The faces are vaguely reminiscent of how Jeff Lemire does faces, in their intentionally rough design. The whole book looks rough and messy and a little gross and uncomfortable. It’s not a pretty book, but it would hurt the story if it was.
If you ask me, it’s comics like Bitch Planet that get the medium better than anything else. Once we get deeper into the story and art treated to some character development, I’m sure we’re going to have something special on our hands. This first issue a smart comic that says a lot without doing much, but it’s still so damn gross and goofy. Intellectual story-telling doesn’t have to be stuffy; it can be a picture-book with a pissed off woman shouting about her fucking tits.
Story: Kelly Sue DeConnick Art: Valentine De Landro
Story: 8.75 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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