Welcome to Your World: Should You Be Reading ‘Bitch Planet’?
When you look at the sheer range and number of original stories being told in comics form today, it’s hard to imagine a better time to be a comics reader. Online and in print, from all around the world, artists and writers are telling stories with their own voices and styles, and there’s so much to choose from that it’s sometimes difficult to know what to read next. With Should I Be Reading… ?, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today.
Bitch Planet tells the story of women who are judged “non-compliant” and sent to an extra-planetary penal colony, the "Bitch Planet” of the title. A rare and welcome example of feminist science fiction in comics, it debuted in December 2014 from writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Valentine De Landro, published by Image Comics.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Your life under the patriarchy as told through a sci-fi female-exploitation-film lens. In the future, "non-compliant" women are sent to a floating prison in space, the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost. Non-compliance includes murder, “marital neglect,” obesity, abortion, “seduction and disappointment,” and lack of forgiveness over marital infidelity. If a woman does it and it upsets a man, the woman is given a one-way ticket to Bitch Planet.
The women of Bitch Planet are offered a chance to earn their freedom by competing in a game based on calico fiorentino --- an early, brutal predecessor of football --- but “accidents” abound. No one is safe.
While the game goes on, the history of the world is gradually filled in, and the women’s back stories are told in stand-alone issues.
WHO'S IT BY?
Kelly Sue DeConnick is best known for her other feminist comics, such as the Carol Danvers-starring Captain Marvel for Marvel, and Pretty Deadly for Image Comics. Former X-Factor artist Valentine De Landro provides the pencils, with Cris Peter on colors, Clayton Cowles on letters, and Laurenn McCubbin designing the back covers. Various guest artists illustrate the stand-alone issues, including Knuckleheads' Robert Wilson IV, and Takio's Taki Soma.
Each individual issue also features a guest essay on a feminist theme. Guest essayists so far have included Feminist Ryan Gosling creator Danielle Henderson; Tasha Fierce of Tastefully Ratchet, Guardian editor Megan Carpentier, and Sword of Sorrow writer Mikki Kendal.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
Aside from the feminist essays included in each issue? Aside from the cutting criticism that attacks sexism with passion and verve, more visceral and vicious than any other comic? Aside from the fact that it manages to dive into exploitation flick stereotypes without giving in to male-centric fetishism? Aside from the much needed inspirational message about embracing who you are and knowing you are enough? Aside from the advertisements on the back cover that parody contemporary ads and are hilarious and horrifying? Aside from the fact that it might be the most important comic book being published right now?
Well, it's an awfully good sci-fi yarn filled with kick-butt women punching misogynists in the face.
WHO SHOULD READ IT?
WHERE CAN I READ IT?
Individual issues are available at better comic stores and Comixology. The first trade paperback is available in stores and on Amazon.com. Note that the trade paperback edition does not include the essay content.