Title: Bitch Planet #1
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Valentine De Landro
Publisher: Image Comics
Rating: 4 / 5
When I initially heard about Bitch Planet, the first thing that popped into my mind was Snakes on a Plane. Was this going to be a comic that would draw me to it simply because of its name? I knew nothing about it other than it was written by DeConnick (whose Osborn mini-series is possibly the greatest depiction ever of the villain), penciled by De Landro (whose art will be sorely missed in X-Factor) and its main cast was all female. Well, I just finished reading issue one and despite (or perhaps because of) being such a great read, the comic is very political, poignant and even a little depressing (more on that later). Full disclosure: I still haven’t seen Snakes.
The comic opens up on a crowded “Earth” (no date given) and instantly we know it to be futuristic and dystopian, with Times Square-like billboards plastered everywhere and hovering police drones. There’s some religious pandering in the form of a seen narrator, explaining the pseudo-reasons why women are sent off-planet. Then we are dumped right into the thick of it.
DeConnick writes the story jumping between tones of sarcasm, wit, seriousness, depression and dejection. It’s funny to a point and then you sort of realize we are already doing this in our own society. In Bitch Planet, women who are “non-compliant” get sent off to the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost, or Bitch Planet as most call it. Men can seemingly send whichever women they feel deserve to go. While we don’t quite have that option here on our own earth, we’ve got plenty of problems of our own. Women face, among many other things: pay and job inequality, political struggles, power struggles, sexual deviancy from men, leering, gawking, abuse, media manipulation, body fascism and the list goes on. Bitch Planet doesn’t directly lob you over the head with these issues, but it’s all there in the thread that holds it together and it’s damn important, if I do say so myself.
Issue one of Bitch Planet does a great job of setting up this dystopian and heavily-patriarchal society. We don’t get bogged down with too much information and there are only a handful of named characters, but it’s enough to see what it’s all about. Think one part Brave New World and one part Marvel’s Mojoverse.
Spoilers lie ahead!
DeConnick also injects race commentary into the feminist angle, allowing us to think the protagonist will be a white, middle-aged female before revealing her as a red herring and showing that the real protagonist is a young black woman. Take that overrepresented character clichés!
De Landro’s character designs are really wonderful. He manages to make all the women stand out, despite having a setting clogged with women. His layouts are particularly interesting to follow and I look forward to seeing more of the environments.
The final page in the comic is a hilarious ad/propaganda piece, ripped right from the Bitch Planet world. “Hey Kids, Patriarchy!” It’s got everything from X-ray specs that show your husband’s inclination to provide you with torment to an ad asking you if you’re non-compliant, in a sort of “it’s bad to wear a short skirt for the boys” kind of way. It’s tongue-in-cheek, but then again, it sort of sums up the theme quite nicely: this is a comic that is going to say a lot of things about a lot of things. That’s not a very articulate way of me to say it will have deep meaning, but it’s the damn truth.
Hop on board.
Review by Brent Gladney