Bitch Planet, #1-4
Kelly Sue DeConnick & Valentine De Landro
GET READY FOR SOME INCOHERENT GUSHING.
Things I love about this book, the short list: EVERYTHING.
Things I love about this book, the longer-but-not-nearly-as-exhaustive list:
I love that it is rooted in the exploitation genre, that it uses its conventions and tropes, but that it uses them in a way that is subversive, that empowers and celebrates and shows the need for feminist thought and theory, that combats misogyny instead of supporting or furthering or contributing to it.
I love that it celebrates different forms of badassery: brawn and brains and skill and resourcefulness and courage and tenacity and pure, unadulterated rage. I love that some of the characters meet adversity with immediate violence while others navigate it more carefully, looking for the route most likely to result in the least personal loss; I love that some of the characters use their sexuality as a tool, while others use it as a weapon.
I absolutely love the backmatter essays—all of the pull quotes in this post come from them—and, according to the letters page in #4, they won't be included in the first round of trades, so I'd very much recommend reading this book issue by issue.
I love the letters from the author, in which she talks about cut scenes, about the inspirations for various aspects of the book, about scenes that were especially difficult to get right, about the community that is beginning to come together around Bitch Planet.
I love the letters page, which is full of letters from people who find this book eye-opening and life-changing and empowering and EXACTLY WHAT THEY'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR THEIR WHOLE LIVES... and also some from people who think the book is a travesty, misandrist propaganda and garbage.
I love that the artwork is just as strong as the writing, that it reflects reality, in that the women are actually drawn in all shapes and sizes, that there is representation of various ethnicities and sexual orientations and economic backgrounds. I love the attention given to the color schemes, and I love that the flashback sequences have an entirely different look than the primary story.
I love the format of the book itself, that it is a planned 30 issue run—with the distinct possibility of more—run in a three book cycle: two issues of primary story, one issue dedicated to the backstory of one of Bitch Planet's inmates, drawn by a guest artist. After reading the first backstory—about the amazing Penny Rolle—I went back and re-read the first two issues, and suddenly her brief scenes were so much more emotionally resonant and powerful. I suspect that each successive backstory will inspire me to do the same.
All this, and I haven't really even talked about the overarching story (which involves a reluctant heroine forced into putting together a ragtag team to compete in an upcoming sporting event/deathmatch... with the secret hope of possibly taking down the people in charge of not only the deathmatch, but of Bitch Planet and the larger culture that created it.
So, yes. As I said way at the beginning of this probably excessively long post, I love everything about this book. I love the characters, I love the art, I love the story, I love the politics, I love the thought it inspires. I love that the moment I finish an issue, I am immediately wanting more. I am not so much a tattoo person, and yet I completely and totally understand why there are women out there who are getting NC tattoos. This book is that powerful.
Do not, do not, do not miss it.