Important Note Dept: As you can probably guess, I’ve been a bit busy with Real Life(TM) this summer, and while I’ve been productive at many things, I sure as hell have not been productive at blogging—I’ve been reading at a glacial pace, which caused my writing to lag as well since I need to, y’know, read things before I can review them. Rather than disappoint everyone with silence, instead I’ll just post reviews of things most of you don’t care about: graphic novel reviews and art posts! I have a bunch of short graphic novel reviews stockpiled on Goodreads and elsewhere, and some half-completed art posts I can finish up. What a time to be alive!
In the future, women deemed “Non-Compliant” are sent to an offworld prison known as Bitch Planet to die. Their society reveres male figureheads as “Fathers” and urges women to be doting Stepford Wives and to stay in line, and those who rattle the cages of this social system suffer from a bad case of non-compliance. Living on Bitch Planet is a harsh life of brawls with guards and the occasional riot, but things start to change when inmate Kamau Kogo is tasked by the system to form a team of players to join the hypermasculine sport of Megaton, sort of like far-future-football. Things won’t be easy, with several subplots up in the air, and many satirical over-the-top jabs to be made. And on Bitch Planet, no one is safe…
There’s a long and storied history of feminist science fiction offering futuristic utopias/dystopias that oppress women, but I can’t say I foresaw one that approached by way of ’60s/’70s “Grindhouse” exploitation films, particularly the “women-in-prison” subgenre. That sounds like a recipe for a regressive, pervy mess, but Team Bitch Planet instead makes it a visceral, powerful, satirical voice of third-wave feminism. Now that I think about it, using oppressed women in prison allows DeConnick to approach feminism alongside other issues: prisons, police brutality, racism, etc… all of which are issues of power anyway, issues of control and power imbalances and inequality. So, the perfect intersectional meeting point. This is a book that challenges you, makes you think, and isn’t afraid to get its hands dirty from shoving issues like trans-phobia or body shaming in your face. And it conveys that rage in a smart, savvy, mature manner that just clicks, especially with satirical back covers that cut down to the bone:
I’m not kidding when I say that this is probably the most important comic I’ve ever read. If Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Pretty Deadly is art because of its beauty and style, Bitch Planet is art for its message and purpose. Walk-don’t-run to your nearest comics purveyor to buy this. If at all possible, get the individual issues (either physical copies or digital issues on Comixology) because each one is packed with fantastic columns and letters, which aren’t included in the trade paperback. The columns are on-point essays about feminism and race from noted scholars and authors. And reading peoples’ reactions to the series via their letters is just amazing. This is a damn good series, and I hope it keeps going forever. At least until Deconnick is done telling the story she wants to tell. Hell, I’m adding it to my pull list, and I haven’t bought comics as they came out pretty much ever…
Do I recommend this/will I continue reading it?: Are you fucking kidding me, I just called it the most important comic I’ve ever read.
Recommended for fans of: Orange is the New Black, Saga, Monstress, ODY-C, Lumberjanes, Ms. Marvel, Rat Queens, Margaret Atwood, feminist SFF in general
Not recommended for readers who: are misogynists; are prudish; don’t like fun and hate themselves
Title: Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine
Author: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Illustrator: Robert Wilson IV, Valentine De Landro
First Published: 2015
What I Read: Kindle/Comixology digital edition
Price I Paid: $10 ($1.99/issue sale)
MSRP: $9.99 tpb / $7.99 ebook ($3.99 Kindle/Comixology)
ISBN/ASIN: 1632153661 / B018YD04NM