Bitch Planet – Issue 1, December 2014
It was inevitable that I would pick up a copy of Bitch Planet. I am a huge fan of Kelly Sue DeConnick (remember that one time she replied to one of my tweets?!), and knew it was on the horizon. Even so, life threw me a curve ball and I was out of action for a bit, so as the first three issues came in, they sat languishing on my desk. In that time I have seen the growing number of readers tweeting about their “non-compliant” tattoos (temporary and permanent) and I had to wonder what could inspire such a reaction after so few issues. And now I get it.
From the very first pages we are thrown into the world of Bitch Planet. Exposition is glossed over and used to dramatic effect in revealing the story before us. This issue features a dual story – introducing us to the new inmates arriving on Bitch Planet (or the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost) and the personal story of Mrs Collins. We learn that one of the new inmates is there voluntarily and we learn more about how Mrs Collins came to be there – as the two intertwine this first issue resolves in the most gut wrenching way and with the most heart breaking realisation.
So, yes. I can see why readers immediately reacted to this new series – there’s a good chance a non-compliance tattoo might be in my future too. Because Bitch Planet takes reality and expands it – takes the roles and expectations placed on women in our society and takes it a step into a bleak future. Because Bitch Planet gives us icons and heroes – some may be criminals but some of those crimes are merely that of being a woman. Because when you stand up proudly and say you are non-compliant, you are standing up for yourself and for women everywhere. Because when I got to the last page my heart was in my throat and I shivered.
The art work throughout hits completely the right note, enhancing the story in the way the best comics do. The same goes for the fantastic front and back covers, harking back to the pulp days of the exploitation genres the volume plays with. The story is there from the beginning – we already have a feel for the background of Bitch Planet with little being said. At the end we are left with the intrigue of who is Kamau Kogo (who we can assume was the volunteer inmate) and what will happen next?!
This is such a brave comic. In the artwork, the mature content, and in the story and premise itself. I love super hero comics, but even more I love comics that venture from that medium, as this does. Recently there have been some very good representations of women in non-super hero comics (Velvet, Rat Queens, etc), but this takes it another step further. From the image of the naked women – stripped back, vulnerable and persecuted rather than idealised and sexualised – to the feeling of power bubbling beneath the surface of these women, this is another level.
As first issues go, this is hard hitting and to the point. Not just to the story, but to the point. I almost wonder how the rest of the series is going to live up to this astounding issue, which quite honestly is the best comic I’ve read in quite sometime. If you haven’t started reading Bitch Planet yet, then that’s something you should really take care of as soon as possible!