Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick / Artist: Valentine Delandro / Image Comics
First things first, thanks to the Bitch Planet creative team for putting a trigger warning for sexual assault on the opening pages on this issue. I believe more and more of the creators of the media we consume (in this case nerdy media like comics and television shows) are blindsiding us, the fans, with content that we love but forgetting that real shit happens to us. I’m not just talking about lazy writing and dumb tropes for female characters (*cough* Did someone say Game of Thrones? No? *cough*) And before you jump into whining about how social justice warriors are ruining comics or whatever you love just remember this: comics don’t exclusively belong to you. Comics belong to all of us.
And if you’ve been hiding under a rock or Donald Trump’s hair
piece , you would know that women are a large percentage of comicbook readers. In fact, women have been there from the start. You could argue that Bitch Planet is pandering to female readers but in reality–this is a comic that is catering to a fanbase which I can only guess has a big female fan base. Isn’t it nice to give a shit about your fanbase? I digress, after the trigger warning there is also this tidbit here:
Last issue we lost a shining star, we lost Meiko. Meiko, Maki. “A field—self-professed engineer and bonafide smartass” as the inside text of this book tells. It was brutal death for me to experience as a reader: I was just getting to know Meiko alongside you fellow readers. She was an inmate on Bitch Planet that caught the eye of Kam. She was very much a smartass and a true casualty to our girls who are daring to shake things up and win back freedom. It’s been a while since last issue dropped so I thought I’d have ample time to mourn Meiko. I suppose I did. With issue number six, we are granted the opportunity to learn more about her and who she was. This issue opens t
This issue opens to the childhood of our girl Meiko. On the opening pages the first person we see is her mother. Then we see young Meiko and the rest of her tight-knit family: her father and her younger sister. All smiles and jokes and what appears to be a nice, stable family life where the girls look to be cherished as much as girl children can be and they are encouraged to take up the arts: playing musical instruments–courtesy of their mother who has taught them and does so as her occupation. Is this is the first mother that we encountered so far for the inmates? Not grandmother or mother figure but actual mother?
As you keep reading you’re quickly bound to be surprised–in a good way of course. Maki’s parents are apparently down for the cause, as in they just might be revolutionaries who live quietly under the radar. As we see here with Maki’s mother secretly teaching calculus to her all girl class. Word? And this doesn’t look like a new thing as she puts on music beforehand and the girls take out what I presume are (math?) textbooks out of their EMPTY musical instruments cases. I’m sure this is an world where this doll exists in too and more but DAMN, this is getting good with each page.
And do know that it gets better — Meiko’s father checks out too. From what gather he is an engineer on pretty big deal projects with budgets that probably eclipses the GDP of most countries who apparently has had young Meiko learning from him and contributing to the overall project. Meiko has helped him complete this project, her hands have been all over these blueprints. She’s done the math and measured and all that jazz. But in a better world she could be recognized for this as her father tells her.
On that note, back to our reality, in a better world young women like Malala Yousafzai would not have to be targeted, shot and rise to survive a brutal attempt on her life just because she wanted to continue her schooling and become a champion for the education of girls everywhere. (And the youngest Nobel Prize laureate on record) In a better world, girls in countries like Uganda wouldn’t have to miss long periods of school and drop out due to not having the proper sanitary supplies needed for their menstruation cycles. BUT back to this review: Meiko’s father is so proud of her and gifts her with a copy of the final blueprint as he’s planning to give every other person who has also been apart of the project. He’s treating her like a team player.
What do we have here Meiko Maki? A stable family life where the parents have equal footing in raising and nurturing their girls and being productive members of society? And the enemy comes forth in the way of a coworker, no, superior at work that all but forces him way into a family dinner at the Maki home with questions about Mr. Maki’s latest project that he just turned in. This dude is blonde, blue eyed, reeking of white privilege and is the textbook definition of cultural appropriation here folks, (yes it’s an actual term social justice warriors, mages, etc didn’t make this one up).
He is dressed in what is wildly inappropriate attire for the setting of a dinner–some kind of robe with a yin and yang symbol as which could possibly have an Asian influence as he yaps about Sake (the Japanese alcoholic beverage) and officially wins creep of the year when he
eyeballs compliments the women in the room on their beauty including the young Maki sisters.
Plot-wise, that’s where I’m ending my analysis. You really have to read through this issue. Art wise, the later scene of this exchange at dinner and the last few pages of this issue are a true sight to behold as everything we’ve learned about Maki–about who she is: as a member of her family unit, as a daughter and as deeply initiative girl comes back into focus. It’s not to be missed.
As with Penny Rolle’s backstory issue where some of us recognized black matriarchy in the form of young Penny’s grandmother or felt out of place due to being biracial or multiracial and finding common ground with Penny there. Or seeing affirmation in seeing Penny’s confidence and love of her body which defied society with each step she took. “For Asian/AAPI girls, when white privilege invites itself to your family’s dinner table” can certainly be one overall theme/layer here.
Having your culture fetishized on a grand scale and being chalked up to stereotypes regarding your gender could be another. Learning what sacrifice looks like to a preteen/teenage girl could be yet another theme from this book. There are layers to this book, so many that I have to reread. And maybe that’s not the same view for some viewers but I encourage you to read through this issue and read what is quite possibly one of my favorite endings to an issue of BP, scratch that comic book issue ever.
And so ends another fantastic character driven issue of Bitch Planet with guest artist Taki Soma and newcomer new colorist, Kelly Fitzpatrick onboard. I stay smitten with Bitch Planet. If it furthers the “feminist agenda” just know that I keep buying it, reviewing it and taking glorious selfies with my copies. Till next issue! May the bitch be with you!
10 Tiny Violins out of 10