Bitch Planet: Extraordinary Machine (Volume One)

Monday, November 23, 2015


Bitch Planet: Extraordinary Machine (Volume One)
Kelly Sue Deconnick, Valentine De Landro, 2015

New Release! I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for the purpose of review.

Premise: Collects Bitch Planet #1-5. In a near future world, society is run by the Fathers. Women who don’t abide by the rules - aren’t thin enough, pretty enough, submissive enough, compliant enough - are sent to the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost, a prison in space better known as… Bitch Planet.

Oof. I didn’t expect anything less, but reading this book feels somewhere between a punch to the kidneys and the crawly feeling of an effective horror movie. Its masterful blend of tone and style evokes both exploitation filmmaking and old-time comic books and mixes them up into an updated space-age Handmaid’s Tale with a righteous, intersectional feminist rage. I shouldn’t have to say this, but this is for mature readers only. Lots of nudity, violence and language.

The volume opens with a story that mostly sets the tone, telling about one woman’s arrival to Bitch Planet. It’s told in a twisty way that gives only enough exposition to keep the plot flowing along and an ending that makes clear the lack of rights the women have and introduces the key character moving forward.

Kamau Kogo was once an athlete, now she’s an inmate. She’s given a chance to take other women from the prison and make them into a sports team for a popular game called megaton. Three of the remaining issues follow Kam and the other women as they try to decide whether this is a good idea and how to prepare for it. Meanwhile, you also get snippets of the big-money men behind the idea of putting the NCs (Non-Compliants) on TV.

One issue is devoted to another inmate, one of Kam’s cronies, Penny Rolle. Penny’s story is both wonderfully inspiring and heartbreaking. She is a powerhouse, and a fantastic character who is up against so much hate and mistreatment. Her issue gives us a lot more background about the rules and conventions that society is now operating by.

If you aren’t a comics reader, you may not know how fervently this book has been embraced. “Non-Compliant” is quickly becoming a rallying cry for comic-loving women who are fed up with society/media/other people telling us to be prettier, thinner, less athletic, less ambitious, less prudish, less sexual, less. More info: http://www.themarysue.com/bitch-planet-tattoos/

All this, plus there’s an intriguing story and some great action.

It’s not an easy read or a light one, but for emotional impact it’s definitely

5 Stars

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