Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Taki Soma
Release Date: 6th January, 2016
This is a comic that demands your attention. It makes you sit down, shut up and damn well read it.
It would be simplistic to describe DeConnick’s “Bitch Planet” as a feminist sci-fi in the vein of Margaret Atwood, Doris Lessing and Angela Carter, not because it isn’t, but because it is so much more.
It would be a mistake, I’d argue, to pigeon-hole it as feminist, when it’s so fundamentally Human-ist in the very truest sense, forcing us to confront the human condition and the values by which we live. I’d go so far as to say that this comic is important: it’s not didactic, because it doesn’t need to be; it doesn’t preach, because it’s more than that: it is, above all, a fine piece of sequential storytelling.
Bitch Planet, prison world for women who refuse to conform to the patriarchy, is as hellish as a dystopic setting as you’d imagine; the grit and the grime seems more suited to 2000AD than any American publisher. Explored in the first five issues, this harrowing one-shot flashback issue serves as the perfect on-ramp for the new reader, whilst fleshing out both Meiko Maki – engineer, murderer, non-conformant – and the larger world for the rest of us.
DeConnick’s writing is on top form; playing against the savagery and sanctimony is bitter, beautiful dialogue – and even moments of wry, pitch-black humour. The disjointed, flashback narrative structure is tonally similar to Kazuo Koike or Osamu Tezuka, which fits consciously or otherwise with our (prejudiced?) assumptions about Meiko’s family and culture. Guest Artist Taki Soma nails this: its played out against an art-style that enhances the sense of timeless sci-fi, with washed out colours recalling 80s Americana and character models (and retro cover) that eerily echo post-war Romance comics. Yet this never serves as a distraction from the storytelling, merely enhancing it, giving us the whole package.
I’m buying this comic so I can give it to my unborn daughter in ten or twelve years. I want her to read it and embrace it. I want her not to conform.
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