Review: Bitch Planet: Triple Feature! #5

Here it is fellow humans. The final issue in this run of Bitch Planet: Triple Feature! This has been a really fun, poignant, and intelligent break from the main storyline that gave many a chance to break into the comic world in a big way. According to Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro a big part of the decision to do this again is dependent on the future success of these guest writers and artists. Not that it needs to be said, I still want to encourage people to take note of the guests they liked from the run and see what else they are up to. This could turn into an even more powerful platform than what it already is. Speaking of which, this issue contains yet more important topics with racism and ageism as the main points of focus. Two of these stories I consider to be among the best of the whole run making this an issue fans will definitely want to pick up. 

Going from less impressive to most, we have “Mirror Mirror” by Jon Tsuei and Saskia Gutekunst. The storyline features two potential action stars trying out for the same role unbeknownst to the other. Right away the parallel that we are shown falls apart. Jackson Wong is clearly the better of the two in every way including work ethic, ability, and general awareness of the way the world unfortunately works. The ending is the perfect demonstration of the latter and the way in which Jackson reacts is indeed a learned response to this situation, as is Van Norris’ reaction and his inability to see what had occurred. The art perfectly demonstrates this in ways that the words alone could not and the energy level captured in it is very well done. The main reason that this is the least impressive in the issue speaks more to the strength of the other two stories than a weakness in the story itself.

“Basic Bitch,” by Bassey Nyambi, Eyang Nyambi, Nyambi Nyambi, and Chris Visions, shines a harsh light on the way in which African-American culture is glorified while at the same time African-Americans themselves are demonized. This is perfectly encapsulated in the term “hood-rat chic” which we see explored in various different ways including clothing, food, and even the language they use. Sadly, this is seen in real life as well. What I enjoyed most about this story is the concept of the “big reveal” and how it is not exactly the kind of reveal that Paige Anderson had hoped for. Just as in “Mirror Mirror” we can see that things are not as parallel as they should be. The final page is especially impactful with all the little details painting a much bigger picture that shows just how systemic the issue is. The art for this story isn’t my favorite, but the coloring is amazing when it comes to the use of the reds and blues. This is a must read.

The first and best story in this issue is “Everybody’s Grandma is a Little Bit Feminist” by big hitters Elsa Charretier and Kelly Sue DeConnick’s husband Matt Fraction. This story feels like one that needed to be told because of how important it is for world building and conceptual framing. Bitch Planet is set in a world where the patriarchy is explicitly embodied in the form of the New Protectorate. If the world they used to live in is understood to be similar to the one we are in now, then the natural order of things would result in grandparents who are the inverse of what we see in our reality; instead of being more conservative, the elderly of Bitch Planet’s world are much more liberal. I took great joy in seeing Nanna talk about her college experimentation and just about everything else that came out of her mouth, which provided a strong contrast to the normalized racists and sexist remarks coming from those around her. Of course, her age goes not prevent her from getting shipped off. Apparently, this: “Happens to old folks all the time,” which finally makes another discriminated against group another recognized part of noncompliance. The art here is excellent with facial expressions, or the lack thereof, conveying massive amounts of information. I also love the little details like the wheels on Nanna’s chair. This story made me feel like I was reading a short from the main storyline.

The extras in this issue are also once again top-notch. First off, it contains the fourth and final part of “Future(ist) Conversations: Jamais Cascio on the Future of Race & Gender” This part focuses on Stochastic Terrorism and modes of social change. I love the way that Kelly Sue DeConnick refers to a tool she uses with her children where she has them draw a circle on a piece of paper and write everything that is their responsibility in the circle and everything that is not outside of it. It is a great tool anybody can use to assess the things they actually have control over. There are also creator bios and a wonderful advertisement for tampons that plays on the advertisements seen in the main storyline and then breaks it down. It also shows how the understanding of a natural healthy process that 50% of the population experiences can and should improve. Finally, we get another wonderfully empowering cosplay.

These triple feature runs are great opportunities for new readers to get a taste of what Bitch Planet is all about and I highly recommend this issue for those still on the fence. Already established fans will have a lot to love. Showing just what is at stake here, Jamais Cascio cleverly states: “Big social changes don’t have too many origin stories. 1) Break the system and replace it, (2) Demonstrate a better/more powerful/effective system, or (3) get bitten by a radioactive activist.” Each issue of Bitch Planet works to highlight the issues that are otherwise not seen by enough people showing the way that fiction can help make these needed changes. The pen can indeed be mightier than the sword.

Story: Matt Fraction, Nyambi Nyambi, Bassey Nyambi, Eyang Nyambi, Jon Tsuei
Art: Elsa Charretier, Chris Visions, Saskia Gutekunst
Cover: Valentine De Landro

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