Sabrina Taylor

Feminism and Comics Collide on Bitch Planet

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A nod to the women-in-prison genre plus sci-fi references combined with feminist commentary equal one wild and thought-provoking ride to Bitch Planet.

 

Cover of Bitch Planet #1 from Kelly Sue Deconnick and Valentine De Landro via Image Comics

Cover of Bitch Planet #1 from Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro via Image Comics

 

Bitch Planet #1
WRITER: Kelly Sue DeConnick
ARTIST: Valentine De Landro
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
RELEASE DATE: December 10, 2014

Do not miss out on Bitch Planet. Get your copy of Bitch Planet #1 now!

In Bitch Planet #1, DeConnick takes us to the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost–known to many as Bitch Planet.  We meet Penelope “Penny” Rolle and Marian Collins, two women who are brought to the planet because of their “noncompliance” with what is expected of them as a woman, or what some would call the noncompliance–being a bitch.  We witness how the organization in charge of sending noncompliant women to the ACO has not only brought about a cultural shift within civilization, but we also see the extent that they go to making sure those being sent to Bitch Planet are brain washed into believing that they deserve to be sent there for the good of civilization at large. The stories of Penny, being singled out for being “noncompliant” due to her size, and Marian, sent to Bitch Planet because she was noncompliant in terms of being sexually available and physically attractive for her husband (who had an affair with a younger woman), are the catalysts for the fight that breaks out upon their arrival to ACO.

I have been waiting for this comic for about a year.  As a Valkyrie, an association of women working in comic shops,  we heard a whisper from DeConnick about the project and to be honest, I couldn’t believe it was actually being printed.  It’s not that I thought it was a bad idea, I just couldn’t believe that someone would really print something so (unfortunately) radical and feminist. My anticipation and expectations for this title have been higher than most comics I read because of the current cultural landscape (GamerGate) and because of how revolutionary Penny is as a character (fat-positivity movement and the current racism debates due to Ferguson, Missouri.)  I have to say that not only were my expectations met, but they were exceeded.

The story weaving from beginning to end was remarkable in the sense that DeConnick uses many tactics used by advertisers in the 1950s and 1960s to justify that a woman’s place in society is subservient.  DeConnick hits the ground running right at the beginning with making you feel that something is off about the society we are about to enter yet everyone in that society is aware of their parts and they are playing them–some out of fear and some in order to maintain the status quo.

I am extremely thrilled about the fact that Penny is a loud, powerful and non-apologetically large black woman and I understand the rumblings that have gone on about yet another white comic book creator writing for black characters, that debate is warranted and necessary (and one I plan to dive into deeper in another article.)   But, I feel that DeConnick does a great job creating Penny as a complex person who is deeper than any stereotype we would lock a character like Penny into. De Landro’s art style is perfect for this title, allowing for the (thankfully) diverse cast of women to be fleshed out in a high quality, cinematic-like way. The fact that he incorporated a Glamour Shot of DeConnick into one of the early frames of the title was a hilarious nod to our world and the expectations of women in the world of Bitch Planet.

Final Verdict: Go get this title.  Just go do it.  Buy two actually!  And here’s to the conversations that Bitch Planet will bring to the comics community.

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