REVIEW: Bitch Planet #4

Story By: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art By: Valentine Delandro
Publisher: Image Comics

I am not sure that, at least counting tweets, if there is a more polarizing book out in comic book land than Bitch Planet. Essentially, it’s an homage from writer Kelly Sue DeConnick to prison exploitation prison movies from the 60’s and 70’s, especially focusing on how women have been portrayed.

So, in the book, the future is very male centric, with non compliant women shipped to another planet, which is known colloquially as Bitch Planet. Here we are introduced to cast of female characters who have been sentenced for various crimes such arguing when their husband has an affair or if they are fat. This issue, sees the start of the creation of a megaton (sport event) team to challenge the state funded male equivalents.

Not having read the book, I took a crash course to get up to speed. DeConnick certainly knows her stuff. You will have seen the characters in different movies, from The Longest Yard, Lock-up and in part Escape to Victory. Sure these aren’t the exploitation genre but reading the issues, it seems the sport event, as in the movies, will attempt to get the reader on the underdog’s, in this case the ladies, side. The script is spot on. Fans of her mainstream work, such as Captain Marvel, may be surprised. For me the dialogue seems like a natural progression from Danvers attitude.

The art is fantastic. Valentine De Lando  has a stark style, which suits the dystopian environment. It is brash and in your face and makes no apologies regarding the nudity. In fact, I would say it’s this honesty that is De Lando’s strength. The women come in all shapes and sizes and they look like real people. Sure, the exploitation element is prevalent throughout especially in the various shower scenes. But again, the strength of the characters shine through so much so, I would ask the question, who is being exploited, the women or the Peeper?

I am fortunate. In my day job, I work with a group of people who happen to be mostly women. The soon to be Mrs Hughes has the same job title as I do and we earn the same salary. The feminist issue isn’t a major thing for me in real life. I am that annoying person who doesn’t see, black or white, man or woman, gay or straight. I just see people. Yes, women are portrayed differently in different books and yes sometimes that means being drawn a certain way. Just because I read about female superheroes doesn’t mean I am going to objectify women. Unfortunately, it seems we focus on women in comics, totally ignoring the impact that half-naked women dancing provocatively on MTV, which can have a much bigger impact on how women are seen than the “should Wonder Woman wear pants” argument.

Whew, rant over. Go check out Bitch Planet. It is one of the best books out there, offering all sorts of commentary across a variety of societies issues and features strong characters.

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