“Bitch Planet” #1 aims to be the comic anthem of feminism. Social commentary and over the top exploitation come together to make this issue one of the best and most memorable debuts of the year.
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Illustrated Valentine de Landro
2014 Best Writer Eisner Award nominee KELLY SUE DeCONNICK (PRETTY DEADLY, Captain Marvel) and VALENTINE DE LANDRO (X-Factor) team up for the very third time to bring you the premiere issue of BITCH PLANET, their highly-anticipated womenin- prison sci-fi exploitation riff. Think Margaret Atwood meets Inglourious Basterds.
If you subscribe to the awesome newsletter Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction put out then you’re already well aware of what “Bitch Planet” is and, like me, feel attached to this book before even reading it. We’ve been able to see the process behind creating this book, and it acted as the perfect way to hype it, because “Bitch Planet” #1 does not disappoint. This is easily one of the best debuts of the entire year.
“Bitch Planet” takes place in a society that encourages compliance from its women. Those who can’t comply get sent to a prison off Earth referenced by the people as Bitch Planet. “Bitch Planet” #1 focuses on one particular woman and how she got there. Without giving everything away, the direction this story takes is fairly unexpected. Instead of setting up where this entire series is going, DeConnick and de Landro throw us right into the gauntlet and make us feel like we’re a part of this by focusing on what it’s like to arrive on Bitch Planet.
This issue is insane in every positive way possible; it is a 1970’s exploitation flick brought to comics. You could go in a completely serious direction because of the subject matter, but this ends up actually being quite fun because of the over the top nature. DeConnick and de Landro are not shying away from madness because, quite frankly, the scenario is the definition of madness. This is no holds barred action and mayhem that breaks the molds of what women in comics have done before.
If there’s ever going to be a title that encapsulates the female movement in comics, it’s “Bitch Planet”. The world of these women is really not so drastically different than what we already live in and that’s part of what makes this story resonate so well. This is a world full of double standards, and it’s no more apparent then with our focal character Marian. The reason she’s there makes all the difference in this issue working, plot wise. Non-compliance goes a lot deeper than breaking major laws. Non-compliance is defined, at least partially, as women not fitting into the molds that society has created. I was legitimately angry reading “Bitch Planet” #1 so the emotion of it all is coming through strongly.
The title of the book is really important to take note of as well. I’m convinced that this is going to be the example people go to when they talk about feminist comic books so the use of the word “bitch” is worth discussing a little bit. It’s clearly used as an insult at times within the story but I don’t think we’re meant to walk away feeling like it is. I feel like DeConnick is trying to change what the word means through this story. Often times women who are referred to as a “bitch” are strong, opinionated and in control of things. It’s a nasty word used, often times, by men to describe a women doing the same things a man does which again, seems to be what most of these women are locked up for.
Valentine de Landro’s style is perfectly suited for “Bitch Planet”. De Landro does a great job at conveying this really gritty world while still not going overboard with the darkness. The most striking thing about the art is that there are a lot of naked women. It’s there. You can’t miss it. However this is not used as something sexy. These women are being stripped down to their cores and there’s an attempt to force them to redefine who they are. It’s an attempt by the people in power to demean them. He could have easily thrown clothes on the women during a riot early on but she doesn’t because it’s important for us to stop seeing nudity as a definite sexual thing. The art really feels retro while still looking like this takes place in a futuristic world. You can see the 70’s influence very clearly, but the prison still looks like something from the future thanks to the designs of the men who are seemingly running the whole prison. This is a really pretty book in a non conventional sense.Continued below
“Bitch Planet” #1 does not give a ton of insight to where the entire series are going but this one shot like story focusing on one inmate does a fabulous job of setting up the tone and world. It definitely does the job of guaranteeing you’ll pick up issue two. “Bitch Planet” is going to be big. You’ll want to get on this hype train before it’s too late.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – You don’t want to mess with these bitches.