Published on February 18th, 2015 | by JCDoyle0
Bitch Planet #3 Review
It’s an Origin issue.
Kelly Sue has already outlined the structure the series is going to follow with each third issue of Bitch Planet being a Special Issue focusing on an aspect of the world outside of the main narrative. And for this first special she has focused on the history of one of the characters: Penny Rolle.
This issue follows a story within a story format with Penny’s life slowly revealed as she is under interrogation before her prison term starts. The Fathers (those in control in Kelly Sue’s dystopian world) want to understand why Penny is so non-compliant and how she could possible accept what she has become. They think that by patching into her deepest, darkest thoughts they can find her true self and make her feel guilty about who she is. Of course, they are in for a shock.
Penny is revealed to be the daughter of criminals (although their crimes are not discussed) and she is brought up by her loving Grandma until the day the authorities take Penny away to be adopted by the State for her own ‘protection’. She is taken from a home of happiness and the arms of someone she loves to be sent into an environment of bland conformity and cruelty. The story shows how badly she adapts to her new surroundings and her loyalty to her family get her in to trouble time and again.
The final flash back of the issue shows the events leading up to Penny’s arrest and illustrates a woman who can no longer just accept the bullying she encounters every day just for merely being a little bit different. This section of the story is superbly executed and has a very strong rhythm. Penny is working behind a counter making muffins while a string of self-centred, self-important ‘betters’ dole out abuse to her because of her lowly station. Her frustration at the world she is forced to live in builds and builds and is illustrated brilliantly through a series of panels that focus closer and closer onto her face as her arm becomes more and more of a blur, pounding away at the muffin mix. Her face twists from mild annoyance to outright aggression as she is finally pushed too far and strikes out with violence.
At the hearing Penny is fitted with a device that will read her mind and project an image of her ‘perfect’ self so that she can see where she has gone wrong but the Fathers just don’t understand that some people like the way they are.
The denouement to this issue maybe a little obvious but I think that’s the point. If you thought that Penny Rolle has any other impression of herself than the one she eventually see’s in the mirror shaped screen, then maybe you should reread these comics: the women in this story know who they are, what they’ve done and above all they do not compromise themselves to please others or to make their lives easier. What you see is what you get and as Penny says at the very beginning of the issue “I feel you judging me” she has already judged herself and not found herself wanting.
This issue is about accepting who you are, inside and out, and the moral is obvious: don’t impose your ideals onto other people. The entire society Kelly Sue has created for Bitch Planet is about forcing people to live in a certain way, to look a certain way and to think in a certain way. Penny Rolle’s story illustrates perfectly why all of those things are wrong for society. She starts off as such a happy, carefree girl, comfortable with herself and her surroundings, it’s only when the State’s ideals are forced onto her that she strikes out and no longer fits in.
Another bonus of this issue, and the format that Bitch Planet is going to take, is that if you haven’t read the previous issues (and why haven’t you? Check out how good they are here) you can still follow the story. It is a standalone issue. It rewards those already indulging in this sci-fi dystopia but is an easy to follow moral tale that can be read in isolation.
There are the usual extra’s which are just as engaging as the main story and will definitely give you pause for thought.
Bitch Planet is an intriguing idea and this issue is part entertainment, part non preachy sermon. You will cheer for Penny Rolle, even as she behaves in the most outrageous fashion and at the same time Kelly Sue makes you question your own society: those obvious ‘villains’ that push Penny over the edge are everywhere in our world.
Title: Bitch Planet
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Robert Wilson IV
Extras: Megan Carpentier/Laurenn McCubbin