Please keep up with all of my old Graphic Novel Reviews here as I quest for 365 in 365 days! Or hit up #GN365 on Twitter.
Oh, man! I have some tremendous NSFW Image titles coming to you this weekend from some passionate guest reviewers that are no stranger to the 365 review stage. Ronell wanted to get started with Bitch Planet, so here it is:
Title: Bitch Planet
Author(s): Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro
Publisher: Image (2015)
Age Rating: Adult
Let’s get this out of the way: it took me a full year to be able to say the title Bitch Planet without a tiny bit of a cringe. I loved it so much, but when I recommended it, I always whisper mumbled the first part. “Hey you GOTTA read bitch Planet.” Or I would try tumble it all together “Have you read the latest issue of bitchplanet?” Either way, I had a tough time giving a full-throated nod to the book when in public. But then I realized, that was kind of the point. Bitch Planet, like its title and the exploitation films it harkens back to, is not meant to be subtle. It’s meant to grab you by the lapels, shake you around a bit, and teach you a lesson you won’t soon forget.
So what’s so great about it? Well, in case you aren’t familiar with the premise, here’s some junk from Wikipedia. Go ahead, I’ll still be here when you get back…you done? Good. Now if after reading that, you still aren’t sure if feminist dystopian exploitation satire is quite your jam, I would implore you to challenge yourself and check this book out. Kelly Sue Deconnick and Valentine De Landro, much like Margaret Atwood and The Handmaid’s Tale, have created a world in the distant future, that is simultaneously a projection of what could be and a mirror of what is, and that’s the true genius of the book.
What is also evident is the thoughtfulness and intentional nature of the work that had to have gone into this book. Though it doesn’t come off as hard work, one can sense that there is genuine effort put into the inclusion of the spectrum of experiences from women of multiple walks of life. DeConnick and De Landro do a masterful job of representing all kinds of women, and they are conscientious about getting it right. That lends an authenticity that is often lacking in comics because the creators often speak from a very specific and narrow point of view. One of the ways the team supports this mission is the backmatter. Each issue of Bitch Planet ends with an essay from a different feminist writer, and it is like sitting in on a master class on feminism and women’s issues.
If that sounds like homework to you, don’t forget this is satire as well. One of the first pages of issue one presents us with this gem that made me literally laugh out loud:
Did we mention this book is NSFW and probably not something you want to give to your nephew for his 10th birthday (or maybe you do, he might learn something, who am I to judge?)? Since Bitch Planet was partially “born of a deep and abiding love for exploitation and women in prison movies of the ’60s and ’70s,” it retains the elements of those films that made them fun and enjoyable.
I am no longer timid in expressing my love of this book. Now I kick in the doors of random comic shops, slap a fiver on the counter and loudly proclaim “Give me your finest copy of Bitch Planet, my good man, post haste!” I owe it to this book to be as loud and proud as it is.
Ronell, thank you as always for an amazing, thoughtful, poignant review. I also love Bitch Planet, and I’m glad this NSFW Image Guest Weekend has begun!
You can find Ronell at www.thecomicbookteacher.com and on Twitter @MisterWhitaker
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