Read Diversely Reading Comics

Reading Comics: A Look At Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro.

Only four issues into this new comics and my love for it knows no bounds.

Bitch Planet

Bitch Planet is a pulpy dystopian series written by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Of the excellent Pretty Deadly and Captain Marvel) and artist Valentine De Landro.

From a storytelling perspective, Bitch Planet takes place in a horrifying dystopian future where white men run the show and non-compliant women are sent to another planet, to an Auxiliary Compliance Outpost – AKA Bitch Planet. The non-compliant are the criminals, the guilty, the women – most of them minorities – who don’t conform in a myriad of ways. What constitutes “criminality” and “non-conformity” in this world are as arbitrary as you can imagine in this type of scenario: it’s obvious that the system is rigged against women from the offset.

And because definitions and comparisons are sometimes useful, I want to say that Bitch Planet is kinda like Orange is the New Black in space. But this would be an apt description only if I add: Piper gets killed off in the first episode so instead of focusing the story on the privileged white girl, we get a story that focuses on the marginalised characters. Then you add Big Brother and an exploitation society, then pile on top of this all kinds of shit that women have to face in a patriarchal society which includes but is not limited to, pressure about how one looks, and a budding background storyline that will see the inmates teaming up to play in the Megaton – a game that appears to be a question of life and death with compulsory viewing and participation – and then possibly we have an approximation of what Bitch Planet is like. Maybe.

Bitch-Planet

With only four issues out so far (the fifth comes out now in May), it’s very early in the game to see where this is going. With a promised 30 issue to cover the entire arc, the creators are at the moment playing a long game, taking their time to build up the backstory and the characters as well as a futuristic world that is simultaneously far-fetched and an entirely unrealistic extrapolation of our current society. This makes it clear that Bitch Planet is as much a conversation with our present as it is with our future and this is made all the more obvious when it comes to the extra materials included with each issue. There is not only an afterword by the author on writing the comics but also a double-spread essay written by a guest author on topics pertaining to feminism for a feature called Bitches Be Like.

To add to the cool factor, every third issue will feature a guest artist with a focus on each of the characters’ backstory. The first of those centres on Penny Rolle who is sent to Bitch Planet for “repeated citations for aesthetic offenses, capillary disfigurement, and wanton obesity.” Much of this issue is flashback, a harrowing look at the character’s childhood and the growing pains of a mixed-race, fat woman who by the end of the issue triumphantly shoves her unrepentance up patriarchy’s ass. Penny is also calmly judging you judging her:

bitchplanet3pg

Bitch Planet is an overtly intersectional feminist comics that offers more than its ongoing story. With an appealing packaging where its extra materials are as important and exciting as what’s within the covers, Bitch Planet is unabashedly loud, proud, in-your-face, angry feminism. It’s fucking glorious.

The point I am trying to make is: only four issues into this new comics and my love for it knows no bounds. Get it, read it, relish it.

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11 Comments

  • Laura Hartman
    May 18, 2015 at 7:44 am

    “orange is the new black it space”! priceless!!

  • Laura Hartman
    May 18, 2015 at 7:45 am

    Duh – IN, not IT – auto fill strikes again. ha ha ha

  • D Franklin
    May 18, 2015 at 10:14 am

    No love for the small ads on the back of each issue, Ana?

    Seriously, I saw this on Twitter and was like “please tell me I can still like the Smugglers”. It’s good to know I can!

  • Ana
    May 18, 2015 at 11:07 am

    @Laura – it is the most obvious comparison I could think of! It’s interesting that the author has given an interview where she says she had not actually watched OITNB.

    @D – I love the small ads! I knew I was forgetting something! 🙂

  • Megan
    May 18, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    In the both good news and bad news dept, these issues seem to be sold out everywhereeeeeee. Frustrating, because I want to GIVE GIVE BITCH PLANET MY MONEY. But I guess good that is HAS sold out…but still. Interestingly enough, at my local store, it seems like ALL series that have been popular with women have been selling out and are impossible to stock. You think the publishers would stop underestimating the buying power of the lady folk…

  • Ana
    May 19, 2015 at 4:32 am

    Megan, I KNOW. I went everywhere looking for it so then I had to resort to buying digitally at comixology – and you know, I am now totally in love with reading comics digitally – it’s cheaper,more convenient, I can download the app to any handheld device or computer or read online and they have tons of back issues. (I swear I am not getting paid by comixology to say this HAHA)

    Alternatively, they should release the trade version with the first 5 issues soon!

  • Samantha
    May 19, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    This one has been on my radar for a little while. I love Kelly Sue DeConnick’s stuff. Now I’m def. going to have to check this out.

  • Megan
    May 19, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    @Ana – I know I need to make the switch, but I’m such a luddite. And yes, lessons have been learned, so I’m going to make sure the TPB will be PRE-ORDERED for me 🙂

  • Layla
    May 21, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Wait, no, HOW DO I FIND THIS? I can’t believe I didn’t know about it. This is the most perfect thing: “And because definitions and comparisons are sometimes useful, I want to say that Bitch Planet is kinda like Orange is the New Black in space. But this would be an apt description only if I add: Piper gets killed off in the first episode so instead of focusing the story on the privileged white girl, we get a story that focuses on the marginalised characters.”

    Like, that is the “Orange is the New Black” that my heart needs. One where Piper dies and I don’t have to read about her incredible privilege, her boring het romance, and her insufferable boyfriend. Overtly intersectional feminist comics! I need you in my life. I have a space prepared for you. Thanks so much for reviewing this, I’m seriously looking forward to getting my hands on these.

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