Bitch Planet Volume 1: Extraordinary Machine
Kelly Sue Deconnick, Valentine De Landro, Robert Wilson IV, Cris Peter, Clayton Cowles
When I reviewed the debut issue of Bitch Planet late last year, I made the claim that this it was the best thing Kelly Sue Deconnick had written to date. I’m a big fan of KSD’s work, but there was something so fresh, so different and high concept about the book that struck a nerve with me in a way her previous comics haven’t. I sadly fell behind on the title due to a move, and several other life-related reasons, but that’s no longer the case! The first trade has hit the shelves, I had read it, and now I will do my best to sell you on it.
If you’re not in the know, Bitch Planet can be described as a twist on exploitation in a sci-fi world; in the future women who don’t fit into a super sexist society’s norms are tossed into a space prison known as the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost, aka the Bitch Planet. An all women’s prison setting may sound a bit risque, but Kelly Sue and artist Valentine De Landro are aware of that, and let the reader know that it’s far from the case. Granted the book IS gorgeous, the cast is never sexualized, making it the opposite another popular women in prison series “Orange is the new Black”. Deconnick has gone on the record stating she’s never seen the show, and the content of this trade is proof of that. We’re introduced to a cast of female prisoners that are all bad ass, and face an enemy that views them as less than human. There’s a lot of parallels to today society, and while most of them are taken to the extreme, a lot of the antagonistic character’s actions and dialogue may leave you feeling uneasy. But these ladies are “Non-Compliant”, and are not about to lay down and die.
There’s a lot to like with Bitch Planet, assuming you’re not the type of person who thinks harassing women on the internet is a good use of time. The book is ambitious, as the creative team touches up/comments on all sorts of topics like sexism, body shaming, racism, sports and media corruption… a lot of things really, which is impressive, given that it’s only five issues of content. And like I said, it’s visually stunning. Regular series artist Valentine De Landro has a cool grindhouse look to his art that is fitting for the vibe of the reto-future book. I also dig seeing a cast of characters with various body types, which is refreshing, and makes the book feel grounded. I’m also a fan of the clean, Mike Allred-esque work of guest artist Robert Wilson IV, who’s contributions to the done-in-one origin issue of fan-favorite character Penny Rolle are fantastic. Equally important to the visuals of Bitch Planet is colorist Criss Peter, who constantly changes up his style to fit the story. Bitch Planet is as every bit as good looking as it is clever, thanks to this trio of artists.
And I honestly don’t know where to begin with signing praise to Kelly Sue’s contributions to this book. Her dialogue is razor sharp, and it injects so much life into the cast and the world they inhabit. It reads and feels like 100% pure DeConnick; unafraid to go into some dark territory, challenge the readers, and inspire them in ways her past work hasn’t. I loved her Marvel work and her other creator owned book, Pretty Deadly, but those books pale in comparison to what KSD brings to Bitch Planet, and I want more of it immediately.
Bitch Planet is a tremendous comic, one that’s easily worth your time if you want your views challenged. The creative team has created one of the most important comics in the last 5 years in my opinion, and for $10, you’d been foolish to past it up.