15. A graphic novel: Bitch Planet: Volume One by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Valentine De Landro
List Progress: 18/25
As you could perhaps guess from a comic with this title, Bitch Planet is not subtle. Started by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and illustrator Valentine De Landro in 2014, the ongoing series takes place on the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost, a prison planet for “non-compliant” women nicknamed Bitch Planet. Bitch Planet: Volume One- Extraordinary Machine collects the first five issues, introduces lead prisoner character Kamau Kogo and sets up a plot of a team of prisoners being volunteered for a popular bloodsport back on a Earth, but most of this volume is spent showing the dystopia they all live in and how much (or little) a woman’s place in the world has changed. It’s very heavy-handed, but being a bit broad doesn’t make it any less fun.
The setting of Bitch Planet is a very active and thrilling dystopic world, reminding me of a sci-fi version of Mad Max: Fury Road melted into V for Vendetta’s political intrigue and authoritarian government. Women are policed at every turn for being too aggressive, loud, bold, defiant, manipulative, and basically anything other than accommodating and kind. (And to the series’ credit, they do address the racial connotations of the set-up as well, how this system is just one more in a long line of systems implicitly designed to cage women of color.) Some components like the CGI female figures they have giving announcements and working as news anchors cross slightly into cartoony, but in a way that’s not too incongruous with the drama. While I don’t care too much about any individual character yet (save Penny, the one character given a full backstory issue so far), I am intrigued by the world and want to go along for the ride.
On an organizational nitpick, it’s frustrating how the panels will occasionally shift to two-page spreads with no rhyme or reason, not just on splash pages, and a moment when dialogue was swallowed in the center crease makes me think that no one considered how these panels would look in trade paperbacks that can’t be opened as flat as individual comics. I hope that will be corrected going into the second volume, but that is to say that I’m thinking about reading said second volume. I’m not racing out to get it, and some characters needs to get me hooked for me to read any past that, but for the moment I’m on board.
Would I Recommend It: Yes.