Comics

Published on December 10th, 2014 | by JCDoyle

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Bitch Planet – Review

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Earlier in the year Kelly Sue DeConnick reinvigorated the western comic with her mystical tale Pretty Deadly and now she’s taking on the Women In Prison genre.

Bitch Planet is a no holds barred, sci-fi take on the movie genre that has been around since the 1930’s and has been infused with DeConnick’s wit and superb character building. In this first issue she manages to subvert the exploitation aspect of the movie genre while embracing the design and look of the pulp fiction aspects of WiP.

It all starts with the transport of 6 new prisoners on their way to an Auxiliary Compliance Outpost – nicknamed Bitch Planet – and their initiation into the prison routine. The reader is introduced to a collection of Radicals, killers and a volunteer but it isn’t clear which is which adding an element of mystery to the characters from the very beginning.

Bitch Planet insert 1

The three characters at the centre of issue one are:

Penny, an in your face kind of a woman who doesn’t play well with authority figures. She exudes confidence but needs a little pushing to get involved in other peoples business. Within minutes of entering the prison Penny talks out of turn and takes a beating which starts a full on riot between the women and the plastic masked guards who seem to revel in striking out with their batons.

Marian is the quiet, innocence pleading character who is portrayed from the outset as the fish out of water. On Earth her husband is shown to be attempting to get her released, insisting that there has been a mistake and, following the rules of the genre, the reader accepts this lady as the heroine of the story: her journey through the prison system and her character growth will be at the heart of the story. At least, that’s what you’re meant to believe. After a confessional with the holographic Catholic,  and a twist in the tale back on Earth, Marian’s plot spins off on a completely different, unfortunate, path.

In steps Kamau, the true hero of the day. She is trained in martial arts, considerate of others, protective of the weak and an all round bad ass. From the outset she stands up for the rights of others to be treated as real people and when she comes up to bat, she knocks everything for six.

Bitch Planet insert 2

Over the last few years Kelly Sue has written a whole range of characters, some for the Big Two publishers and a collection of others including creator owned titles for Image Comics, but one thing that links them all is the humanity that she imbues into all of them. She acknowledges that there are many facets to every character, no-one is purely ‘good’ or purely ‘evil’, and uses this to create real empathy for the heroes in her work. With Bitch Planet she tells you from the beginning that these women are potentially killers but within seconds this is forgotten because the reader is introduced to a selection of women, not just their crimes. These are not the 2 dimensional characters that feature in WIP films like Chained Heat, these are well constructed, thoroughly thought out individuals.

The characters are not just created by Kelly Sue’s brilliant words but by the outstanding design work by Valentine De Landro. The expressive style of the art work and the diversity of the characters gives this comic a fresh and exciting appeal. De Landro subverts the exploitive nature of Women In Prison clichés to create very positive and diverse images of the women.

The world of Bitch Planet is not a safe or pleasant one and some readers will not feel comfortable in it. However there is some very smart writing and striking artwork in these pages and the extra’s at the back of the comic, a short essay by Danielle Henderson and a humorous mock Ad Page produced by Laurenn McCubbin, make this a must buy.

 

BitchPlanet01_CoverA

Title: Bitch Planet

Publisher: Image Comics

Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick

Artist: Valentine De Landro

JCDoyle

JCDoyle

Lover of comics and Art and Sci-Fi in multiple media. Currently teaching my kids the ways of the Geek (while protecting my first editions)
JCDoyle

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