Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine


Title: Bitch Planet, Vol 1: Extraordinary Machine
Creators: Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia,

The Premise

The blurb from Goodreads:

In a future just a few years down the road in the wrong direction, a woman’s failure to comply with her patriarchal overlords will result in exile to the meanest penal planet in the galaxy. When the newest crop of fresh femmes arrive, can they work together to stay alive or will hidden agendas, crooked guards, and the deadliest sport on (or off!) Earth take them to their maker?

I’ve also seen it described as Margaret Atwood meets Orange is the New Black.

The Good

  • One hell of a set-up. NC’s (for non-compliants) are sent to Bitch Planet for all manner of sins: they are too fat, too thin, too loud, too shy, too religious, too secular, too prudish, too sexual, too queer, too black, too brown. Basically, if you’re not entirely pleasing to the male powers that be, you’re being shipped off planet. Living in a world where it can feel impossible to live up to all of the things a woman is expected to be, I find this a fascinating, terrifying premise.
  • Feminism! I don’t think this point requires any explanation.
  • Interstitials. There is artwork in between each issues that is equal parts horrifying and hilarious. Whether it’s the ads for a diet product (which is actually tapeworms) with copy like “WE GUARANTEE YOU WILL LOSE YOUR BALANCE! YOUR ENERGY! YOUR JOIE DE VIVRE! YOUR WILL TO LIVE! AND KEEP IT OFF!” or the missed connection: “Long shot, but here it goes: 15 years ago. Some stupid 80s club in NYC. You: drunk, smelled like Abercrombie and Fitch. Me: pushed up against a wall while you forced your hand in my pants. I held my lit cigarette out of your face and tried to talk my way to safety. I regret that I missed my opportunity to rip your heart out and shove it, still beating, down your throat. Call me?” or ads for man-pleasing products like “Flower Patch Snatch” “Because what’s more special than a cage filled with vinegar and chemical daisies? Also available in Spicy Cinnamon Taco, for the girl adventurers.” Biting, shocking, thought-provoking, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.

The Bad

  • The whole thing felt a little thin, as if after five issues, they are still setting up this great idea and will get around to things like characters and plot at some undefined “later” time. 

The Verdict

3/5 stars. There’s some good bones here, and I’m hoping the storytelling improves in future issues.

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