words: Kelly Sue DeConnick/ art: Valentine Delandro / Image Comics
Not too long ago, another avid Bitch Planet reader sent me a tweet from Kelly Sue. It was Kelly apologizing, saying that Bitch Planet issue number four would reach our hands at a later date. Like many readers I was totally bummed out and stayed optimistic by rereading the first three issues and then even reintroduced a friend to the world of comics by way of a care package of comics which included a copy of issue one. (I racked up some serious awesome friends points and Karma there!)
First going in, I couldn’t help but notice the two men who act as surveillance techs of sorts, the first two men we see in the prison colony observing and taking notes on the inmates. One questions the other with the fate of the inmates, beginning to ask if things had been different before his coworker stops him–perhaps what? That these women could be spared suffering? Humilation? Abuse? It’s just that tone of the man on the right that I hear too often nearly everyday, whether it be the comments, (ugh the comments) on video with or about Anita Sarkeesian or more recently one of my parents telling me that there is a right way and a WRONG way to protest regarding the uprising that’s happening in Baltimore (that’s #BaltimoreUprising, yall).
It’s a tone…a way to dehumanize the person or persons in mind. It’s a tone that you hear on the news channels whose one-sided shameful coverage births respectability politic filled office chats and facebook postings. Think about it, how often do you hear that tone when you read about young women sexually assaulted on college campuses, “She shouldn’t have drank at that party” when really you should be vocalizing that it’s fucking obvious that folks don’t know the actual definition of consent? But back to the comic which is seriously envoking a lot of real life feels for me as you can see….
As promised last time, this issue we get that
And as written by DeConnick in the last pages, this was the very thing that kept the comic from coming out on time. The challenge was to have one of the more explicit shower scenes work with the story but not conform to the male gaze. It proved to be have more obstacles than the team originally panned out and thus it was reworked on until it was finally sent to the publisher. Whether you, the reader, think it was an irresponsible move or one that spoke of integrity of staying true to the task of bringing an unapologetic story, I truly think you’ll be a whole lot closer to finding your answer after reading this issue.
This issue accomplishes two things: the first showing how Kamau assembles her crew. She agreed to take part of the bloody sport that is Megatron and now she must “do her part” and deliver a crew that will deliver a spectacular event. We see her brilliant mind constantly working to jump over hurdles and get every single needed part of her plan together. We see the camaraderie of the women she’s picked and those same women getting a feel of what positions they are to take up. On a side note, we also gain a better understanding of the game it self: what is main objective (how do you score), what are the requirements of a team and so forth. It’s a – dare I say – fun moment where the inmates, the women celebrate afterwards in a world, where I don’t think I’d be too far off to say, doesn’t celebrate them.
The second thing that this issue successfully accomplishes is a starting point at analyzing all the different power structures in the prison AND upsetting some of them. Operative Whitney the (first!) female operative seen in the prison who approached Kam about creating the team (back in issue number two) doesn’t wear one of those creepy God forsaken clear facial masks the other male guards wear. She also tells your girl K that she will eventually come to trust her. Eh. In this issue another person in power is shanked and the set up to compromise this very person was BEAUTIFUL. The closest gif I have to express my initial response is this.
As we continue reading, only time will tell if Bitch Planet will successfully convey a story that continues to be unapologetically dedicated to it’s message, which to me is showing us non-compliant women. I’ve interpreted it as a message of showing us the struggles of women who choose to be themselves in a world that frowns upon that. Reader Paul in the back pages of the comic asks if the message one day will outweigh the exploitative element used within the story (I found his phrasing interesting to say the least but that’s another story). Only time will tell but for the meanwhile, the creative team is doing a fantastic job.
Till Next Issue, Bitch Be With You.
P.S. While the actual comic is the main focus that most look forward to, the accompanying essays have quickly become the talk of the town because they are a 1.) a breath of fresh air! Essays on women’s issues BY WOMEN. Thank fucking thank you! And 2.) Educational by as well by means of intersectionality, etc. Please note that the back cover is a real treat here. It’s my favorite so far. Cheers!