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‘Bitch Planet’ #2 is a Bold Breath of Fresh Air

‘Bitch Planet’ #2 is a Bold Breath of Fresh Air

Bitch Planet #22015-01-27-bitchplanet

Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art and Cover: Valentine De Landro
Colorist: Cris Peter
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics

As comic book readership becomes ever more aware of problems within popular media, it’s been harder and harder to find a book that isn’t problematic. Kelly Sue DeConnick’s ongoing independent book, Bitch Planet, is a gem in the slowly improving realm of comic books and geek culture. Only two issues in, it’s of course, impossible to say whether Bitch Planet is entirely non-problematic, but as of last week’s issue, and seems far more indicative of equality and representation than many other books. At least this is the case when the reader is old enough for strong language, nudity, and certainly violence. This book is not for the kids! Nor is it for those whom become incensed immediately upon hearing the “f word” (feminism). For those who are more open-minded, and those who have been searching desperately for a comic book that represents them, look no further!

Taking place in the undetermined future, Bitch Planet presents a dystopia that isn’t as dystopian as it first seems. In this futuristic world, women considered “non-compliant” are banished to an off-planet prison where they are subject to the cruel whims of the guards, and, of course,the suited men who control the guards. In this second issue, DeConnick’s intriguing hero, Kamau Kogo, finds herself falsely accused of murder. Isolated from the other prisoners, she fields a too-civil-to-be-sincere conversation from a white, female guard. At the same time, the suits back on Earth discuss how best they might use the women of the prison to line their own pockets, discuss a mysterious, and dangerous sport, Megaton, and leave Kogo and the other women with decisions to make. Parallels between these events and events in our own world are not difficult to see.

Certainly, it can be difficult to find a meeting of powerful people that is not comprised of mostly white men, and the commentary on both propaganda as well as the exploitation of minorities is acute and pointed. Despite less focus on other intriguing prisoners such as Penny Rolle, and an extended look at scenes outside of the prison with characters who are not the book’s heroes, DeConnick’s writing manages to create some prolonged intrigue as well as a constant desire for more of the plot. Even the characters we’re not meant to care about draw our attention. It is worth mentioning that even with small roles in this issue, two new characters, Violet and Meiko, are immediately intriguing with DeConnick’s promises of future issues focusing on the backstories of supporting characters. Similarly, perhaps what is the only noticeable fault in this issue is the small role played by Kogo’s fellow prisoners. However, with next month’s issue, titled “The Secret Origin of Penny Rolle”, this problem seems destined be rectified.

It is impossible to talk about Bitch Planet without mentioning the stupendous art of Valentine De Landro. His cover wastes no time in setting the tone of the book by setting itself up as a sort of advertisement, like an old exploitation movie posters playing into the world of the comic. The art within the panels themselves is similar using both an older, Bronze Age look as well as new styles. Expert shadowing, along with contrasts between the prison and earthbound settings play right along with the script, and help the reader to situate themselves into each scene. Cris Peter’s colors also show these contrasts, and establish the futuristic world of Bitch Planet.

Both the artistic and writing aspects of this book are bold and filt well with the equally bold characters within the story. This creates a very rare comic book that is not afraid to make the necessary commentary without holding back. If there were any doubts as to this, one need only flip to the back of the book, where readers can find not only letters and tweets by fans, but a letter from DeConnick, and an essay in a planned series of essays, written by Black feminist writer Tasha Fierce. Before you close your issue of Bitch Planet, or open it back up to re-read, be sure to check out the marvelous back cover, which both keeps in theme with the front, while selling actual merchandise, and giving a short, but heartfelt tribute to Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen who last December committed suicide. It is all these pieces together that make Bitch Planet what it is, which is a revolutionary and much anticipated addition to comics as a whole.

– Julia Michels