Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine

Kelly Sue DeConnick -script

Valentine De Landro -art

Cris Peter -colors

Clayton Cowles -letters

ex·ploi·ta·tion
ˌekˌsploiˈtāSH(ə)n/

1.       the action or fact of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work

2.       the action of making use of and benefiting from resources.

The complex dish that is the exploitation genre of books/films is not for everyone. Usually you love it or hate it. I love it and I tend to think that those that hate it just don’t understand it.  Bitch Planet is a riot. I mean literally a RIOT (uprising, insurrection, disturbance, etc…) and it is delightful.  I won’t get into a dissertation on the misogyny that plagues comics; a scroll through comicbookmisogyny.tumblr.com or the Women in Refrigerators site (lby3.com/wir) will get you educated real quick. But I will say that Bitch Planet is one of the best examples of why I love me some ‘sploitation. The Women in Prison (WiP) subgenre of exploitation has been cleaned up a bit and packaged for the general public in shows like Orange is the New Black, which I adore. Bitch Planet is raw footage though folks.

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DeConnick has written a story that exploits or makes use of the sensationalism of WiP themes (sex, nudity, violence, and rebellion) to entertain and generate a subversive message. What is the message? In a word, and I’ll use a dirty word because sometimes there are no better words, F E M I N I S M. The words feminism and feminist have lots of definitions and connotations by now. They are a pair of loaded, bruised, and misused words.  Let’s clarify, shall we? Advocacy for the equal treatment of women because a woman is not some genetic accident or lesser being that should be marginalized, sexualized, stigmatized…Women are people too.  If I am to be sexualized, do it because I’m a sexy human, not just because I’m a woman. Sexualize with equity. Should I be paid less because I’m a woman? No. Am I unintelligent or unable to reach certain levels of intelligence because I’m a woman? No. Should I not speak my mind because I’m a woman? Hell no.
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The women in this “sci-fi exploitation riff” have been deemed “non-compliant” by the ruling patriarchy in a seriously bent future not too distant from ours. If you are woman deemed non-compliant, you are sent to the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost, lovingly referred to as BITCH PLANET because this prison is on another #$%^ planet! What crimes against the patriarchy could get you stamped as non-compliant? Well, some of my favorites are Criminal Literacy, Patrilineal Dishonor, Gender Treason, Seduction & Disappointment, Gender Propaganda, Ego Dysmorphia, Obesity, & Terminal Hysteria! Well, sounds to me like a fun group of women and sure enough the N.C.s, as they are called, are an extraordinary group: Kamau “Kam” Kogo, Meiko, Penny Rolle, Fanny, Renelle, Violete, and Marian.  I think Kam is my favorite. N.C.

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DeConnick’s script is really some of the best reading I’ve encountered in a while. She weaves a plot that keeps me interested and guessing. The frames and pace are right. Valentine De Landro’s style is…well…bad ass. De Landro handles the range of characters and scenes wonderfully. His grasp of the real variety and diversity of the female anatomy alone is incredible. He is now on the list of my favorite artists. DeConnick’s writing of—and De Landro’s drawing of the “obligatory shower scene” was epic and will go down in history as one of the best scenes in a comic. They handled it. Cris Peter’s colors gave Bitch Planet an iconic pop-culture edge. Clayton Cowles does a solid job on letters; seems he and DeConnick worked well together, as everything flowed smoothly with dialogue heavy frames.

Whoever picked the title for the collected graphic novel, Extraordinary Machine, gets extra points with me because of the Fiona Apple album/song of the same name. One verse of the song goes: Be kind to me, or treat me mean/ I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine.  I must say one of my favorite parts of Bitch Planet is the “ads” in the back. The stuff is gold.

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My only complaint about Bitch Planet is that there isn’t more. But while waiting for more (issue #6 is scheduled to hit local comic shops December 9th) there is a whole community of n.c.’s and fans on the internets to keep me company. Bitch Planet Tumblr is a legacy to the impact this comic series has had and is an extension of the topics and conversations it’s prompted.  There’s fan art, cosplay, knitted hats with n.c. logos, and tattoos!

If you haven’t read Bitch Planet yet, visit your local comic shop, buy the digital copy via Image, or order from Amazon.
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BITCH PLANET IS COPYRIGHT OF IMAGE COMICS. IMAGES FEATURED UNDER FAIR USE FOR REVIEW PURPOSES.

*I PURCHASED INDIVIDUAL ISSUES BUT RECEIVED THIS BOOK FROM NETGALLEY AND THE PUBLISHER IN EXCHANGE FOR A FAIR AND HONEST REVIEW. THIS REVIEW IS NOT FOR PAY AND IS MY OPINION ALONE.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Dāsha says:

    I’ll be honest; the name and cover art really turned me off and made me skeptical. It didn’t help when the only people raving about it were nerdy comic shop owners who shall remain nameless. But you’ve convinced me to at least give it a try. Great recap!

    -Dasha
    http://windycitywardrobe.com

    Liked by 1 person

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