I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for months, but can any story live up to that kind of hype?  Your Major Spoilers review of Bitch Planet #1 awaits!

BitchPlanet1CoverBITCH PLANET #1
Writer: Kelly Sue Deconnick
Artist: Valentine De Landro
Colorist: Cris Peter
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Editor: Lauren Sankovitch
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $9.99

Previously in Bitch Planet:  Comic books, by their nature, are a strange multi-headed beastie. born of the pulp houses of the 30s, forged in the fires of a World War, it is still sometimes difficult to extricate the idea of a comic book from the expectation that it is “for children.”  Over the years, there have been comics that were radical in tone or ideas, and some that chose to push the envelope of what is socially acceptable or polite, questioning authority and examining the moldy underside of the rock that is conformity.  And then, there came this book…

TWENTY MINUTES INTO THE FUTURE…

The first couple of pages of this comic grab you by the lapels (or equivalent accessory, I don’t know from fashion) and drags you into its world, starting with a journey across a futuristic-but-familiar crowded cityscape, a world where every surface bombards us with messages about conformity, consumerism and the vast importance of being pretty.  There’s a lovely transition into narration (which is actually diagetic to our story, incredibly) that takes us to our main setting: an off-planet holding facility for “non-compliant” women, known colloquially as “Bitch Planet”, but in polite conversation deemed “Auxiliary Compliance Outpost.”  The focus on such jargon tells us a great deal about the world, and the women who arrive at the Outpost are deemed guilty of various crimes (two are killers, some are ‘radicals’ and one is deemed a volunteer), but each of them is treated with the same level of brutality in the name of efficiency.  This is a world where a woman can be sent away and deemed responsible for her husband’s dalliances, a world where speaking up for one’s self will label you a criminal, a terrible place that somehow still feels very familiar and contemporary, especially in matters of race, gender interactions and perceptions of feminism.

…STILL INCREDIBLY TIMELY

This story was a challenging read for me, one that makes it more difficult than my usual comic book review.  Full disclosure: I’m a white CIS male from the midwestern United States, and I worry how my voice and opinions on the more difficult aspects of this story will be received.  This is a very feminist narrative, and that is a good thing.  The major screen-time is given to two POC characters, which is also a good thing.  There are wonderful moments throughout this book, from the holographic “hostess” to the casual misogyny of the guards and male characters, and a REALLY lovely bit of badassery from Kamau Kogo, whomt one of the guards identifies as “the star of our show.”  It’s a fitting designation both in and out-of-universe, and the depiction of her on the page where this is stated is stunning.  Valentine De Landro delivers excellent artwork throughout the issue, keeping the characters distinct and unique when they’re wearing identical orange prison jumpsuits, or while naked during processing.  It’s not every day that you find a comic book with a cast not only this racially diverse, but also of different sizes and body types, and the long sequence of nudity comes across as dehumanizing and unpleasant rather than sexualized in a comic fashion, thanks to more strong work from De Landro.  I enjoy the color palette in use as well, especially the bright swathes of pink in the cover art, guaranteeing a book that will stand out on the shelves.  The worst part (in terms of the story being told) of the whole issue comes as we find out the reason why Marion Collins was sent up the proverbial river, and the upshot of her smug-and-terrible husband’s battle to get Mrs. Collins back from her designation of Non-Compliant.

THE BOTTOM LINE: STUNNING AND THOUGHTFUL

Still, whether or not I feel qualified to discuss race, gender or social issues, I have full confidence that I know from comic books, and this one is utterly amazing.  First issues are hard, especially in a fantastical setting, but DeConnick shows her work in a way that is engrossing and subtle, making me think hard about the world *I* live in.  This is not going to be a quiet book, but the bright pink cover and the angry rhetoric still can’t cover the fact that there are a lot of really important topics on display in these pages, making for a layered and truly satisfying reading experience.  Bitch Planet #1 has a GREAT title, a strong premise and some wonderfully expressive and dynamic art, and clearly has Important Things that it wants to say, doing so with enthusiasm and earning 5 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s a good’n and I look forward to where this story is going…

I've been looking forward to reading this book for months, but can any story live up to that kind of hype?  Your Major Spoilers review of Bitch Planet #1 awaits! BITCH PLANET #1 Writer: Kelly Sue Deconnick Artist: Valentine De Landro Colorist: Cris Peter Letterer: Clayton Cowles Editor: Lauren Sankovitch Publisher: Image Comics Cover Price: $9.99 Previously in Bitch Planet:  Comic books, by their nature, are a strange multi-headed beastie. born of the pulp houses of the 30s, forged in the fires of a World War, it is still sometimes difficult to extricate the idea of a comic book from…
Loud, intelligent and unapologetic about it, with some amazing art and a disturbing/brilliant premise

BITCH PLANET #1

Writing
Art
Coloring

Loud, intelligent and unapologetic about it, with some amazing art and a disturbing/brilliant premise

User Rating: 3.78 ( 3 votes)

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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