Given the current political climate and the completely welcome rebellion against male-dominated media, it’s no surprise that a comic like Bitch Planet hits all the right feminist notes. A quick-witted and artistic sci-fi epic, the comic written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and illustrated by Valentine De Landro puts a 1960s exploitation vibe on realistic themes of oppression, revolution and violence.
The first volume of Bitch Planet establishes the comic’s main characters and the dystopian world they live in. In this world, women who are not compliant are sent to an off-planet ‘Auxiliary Compliance Post’, which is not-so-lovingly referred to as the ‘Bitch Planet’. The plot centers around several women trying to survive in this prison, while we see one of the main character’s husbands desperately trying to free his wife from the prison for a crime she did not commit. There are twists and turns in each issue that readers will simply have to find out for themselves what really happened, but be warned: this comic will make you more than a little angry at the American patriarchy.
DeConnick created these ‘Barbarella-style’ characters as an homage to female prison movies from the ’60s and ’70s, and this definitely shows. De Landro’s artwork bathes our protagonists in rich, warm colors much of the time, giving a nearly euphoric feeling to often dark and disturbing moments. While the comic often comes off as a parody, it’s clear that the overt feminism expressed in DeConnick’s writing is no joke. The comic industry has been male-dominated for decades, but DeConnick is aiming to change that. Her work has been praised by publications and fans across the globe, and Bitch Planet deserves every bit of credit it’s received.
The comic does spend a little too much time explaining the world to the audience. Rather than let readers discover things for themselves, we are given a lot of exposition in the beginning, making the initial dive into the comic a bit straightforward and unimaginative. This dissipates as the comic goes on and could have been a hiccup in DeConnick’s story, but it would have been nice to explore the themes and settings more independently. Despite the initial hand-holding, Bitch Planet seems to have shifted the comic book industry ever so slightly towards a more equal and, dare I say it, badass playing field. I can’t wait to read the next installment.
You can buy Bitch Planet Vol. 1 at your local comic shop or online from Image comics here for $9.99.