Tuesday Reviews Day: Bitch Planet, Vol. 1 by KellySue Deconnick and Valentine De Landro

Last week’s taste of comics made me want to dive into them even more, so I’ve added several to my TBR list, though it’s not clear when I’ll get around to purchasing them, let alone reading them. I did get one off my list for Christmas though, and predictably tore through it in a sitting. I seriously cannot wait for the next volume.

I’m a little late to the Bitch Planet party, mainly because I am nothing if not impatient. Like the ladies at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, I prefer to wait for collections to come out and binge them all at once. So, finally, I’m on the train, and I can tell you with certainty I am never getting off it.

Note: This book contains graphic violence, strong language, and frequent nudity, and this review will feature images from the comic. While these topics do not personally offend me, I understand that some people may be uncomfortable with them. Please use your discretion and consider your limits before reading this review or this comic.

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In an extremely patriarchal society in the future, women who are deemed “noncompliant” are shipped off to a prison planet unofficially known as Bitch Planet. The women all serve life sentences there, often for trifling offenses like being overweight or something called, vaguely, “patrilineal dishonor.”

The society on Earth is run by a shady group of aging white men called the Fathers, who embody the “good ol’ boys” and “boys will be boys” cliches. Concerned only with measurable material success in their capitalist-to-the-extreme society—where the social landscape is dominated by mandatorily viewed, government-produced television programs—the Fathers notice ratings slipping, and hatch a plan to bring them back up. They decide to force the women of Bitch Planet to participate in their annual televised deathmatch that seems a mixture of Hunger Games and rugby. But when they force one inmate into being team captain, the women of Bitch Planet begin work on a plan of their own.

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How I found it: Got it as a Christmas gift! Barnes & Noble carries it; so does Comixology. (Like comics? Get that app. I might review it one day. But not today.)
Genre: Graphic novel; science fiction; fantasy; adult; dystopia
Does it pass the Bechdel test? Yes
Is it a standalone? Nope
So what worked? EVERYTHING, ARE YOU KIDDING ME. Seriously, this comic has everything. Badass ladies, post-modern dystopia, violence, feminism, action, an  awesome plot, well developed characters, BADASS LADIES. You guys, I’m already planning where I’m getting my NC tattoo. (Right now, I’m thinking behind the right ear.) It subverts every trope you think it’s using, and it functions as gloriously biting social commentary, but in a way that makes you feel inspired to act rather than hopelessly give up.
The strong, fast-paced storyline aside, LOOK AT THIS ARTWORK.

b-planet panels
What didn’t work? Are you kidding? Literally nothing. Except that maybe it was only one volume instead of six. I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of this ‘verse DeConnick and De Landro have created.

Overall: This. Comic. Is. Awesome. Buy it now. I wish I had something witty to say about it, but honestly, it’s so fantastic it left me utterly speechless. It made me angry and proud and made me want to march in the streets, start a riot, join a Slut Walk, change the world, do anything and everything. This book makes me proud to be a woman, proud to be a feminist, and okay with being angry.

To be quite honest, this is the strongest book I’ve read in a long time. It really punches you in the face from page 1, and it doesn’t let up, not even with the back cover. It’s a wild ride from start to finish, and it can take some getting used to. It’s like nothing I’ve read before, though it does remind me of some movies I’ve seen. If you aren’t terribly offended by rampant nudity and swearing, stick with it; it may be jarring at first, but it works within the story and serves its purpose well. Give it a chance. Hang in there.

If you identify as female or feminist, this book, in my opinion, is essential reading.

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