Bitch Planet: Book One by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Valentine De Landro

This is the first comic I’ve reviewed and as a reader of fiction, possibly the occasional graphic novel, I’m probably not well qualified to discuss the genre but I’m going to give it a go anyway.

Bitch Planet appealed to me because I loved the way in which it promised to dramatise the extremes of a patriarchal society. Humans have developed the ability to live on other planets. Bitch Planet is the nickname for the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost, another planet where non-compliant women are detained to live out their lives in penitence and service.

Non-compliance comes in many shapes and forms. You may not obey your husband or your father. You may refuse to look after your appearance and be too fat or too tattooed. You may be considered a bad mother. You may refuse to keep quiet. Your sexual preferences might be considered ‘wrong’. Any woman who doesn’t support the patriarchal hegemony is non-compliant and likely to be sent away for life.

Book One introduces the possibility of escape or, more likely, pay back in the form of the most popular sport on Earth, Duemila or Megaton.

Megaton is used to pacify the people of earth. If they watch a violent game of sport, their need for violence is contained and they remain compliant. But people are growing bored of the feed (television) and of Megaton and the introduction of an all-female team from Bitch Planet, fighting for their freedom, would certainly reignite peoples’ interest.

Book One follows Kogo Kamau or Kam as she is chosen to put together a team of non-compliants.

It’s a great idea and fun to read. It reminds me of all the subtle misogyny still rife in our society and provides a platform for thought and discussion. It does, however, also carry tropes from other narratives like The Hunger Games, Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Mall, some television episodes of The Black Mirror, Equilibrium and so on. This doesn’t stop me wanted to read more though.

Packed with ideas, mindful of tropes and cliché, Bitch Planet is an intriguing series that I will definitely read more of. The artwork is delightfully retro and playful in its use of cover art, adverts, and colour. Typically, for a person who likes the space available in a novel to delve further into characters’ heads, I’d like to know more about the people in the comic but I trust that will unfold over time.

Quick, provocative, and fun, Bitch Planet is a great comic for people who want to think and talk about the interaction between the individual and society as defined by those with power.

Next week I’m reading The Flame Alphabet: a novel by Ben Marcus.