In my opinion, “Bitch Planet #1” was one of the most overrated comic debuts we’ve seen in a while. By that I mean the literal rating it received from a number of review sites – many of which saw fit to consider the debut a “masterpiece” or “perfect” from their perspective – something they are entitled to, but something that also must be defended with evidence and reasoning in order to be taken seriously. I enjoyed the debut issue but thought it was given a pass for its short-comings because it’s vogue right now to agree automatically with feminist values.
Saying all of that might make it seem like I don’t like the title, which isn’t the case, or that I’m a misogynistic pig, which also isn’t the case, but I believe it’s necessary to put things into context and maintain critical integrity above all else.
My girlfriend continually tells me that I’m a feminist and I resist the branding because the title to me comes with some pretty toxic baggage. I prefer to think that I stand for equality, and against inequality, in any and all of its forms. Bitch Planet is a fiction and thus shouldn’t be rigorously subjected against reality, but at times it seems slightly unfair. We have yet to come into contact with a sympathetic male character. Too often feminists seem to have a “no good men” mentality. It’s too early to say whether Bitch Planet is embracing that mind-state but it hasn’t offered anything to the contrary, yet. Poor examples of feminism also present their world-views without acknowledging history. Women have won an incredible amount of political and social freedom in a relatively short period of time. That’s not to say that we don’t have battles still to fight; we do, but ignorance of this reality is both irritating and misleading. This is a science-fiction title in which the “patriarchy” has gained complete control, indicating a back-slide from where we are now – while this isn’t impossible, it does seem unlikely.
“Bitch Planet #2” was an opportunity for the creative team to flesh out the characters a bit more and continue to build the universe the series is set in. Writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Valentine De Landro do just that as they explore a possible protagonist for the series. They’ve adopted the hero dragged into a war she doesn’t want to fight as the setup for this first story arc and we’re swept along by their deft pacing, DeConnick’s confident tone and structure, and Landro’s uniquely creative style.
The pop art/Kirby fusion of Landro’s visuals make for a diverse experience that is unlike anything on stands. It’s hard to believe that he manages to make this series stand out despite a massive number of similar science-fiction titles, but somehow he does. Panels are arrayed in a really interesting fashion that assist the story-telling in the way great cinematography can enhance a well-written, well-acted film.
There is a lot of meat on this bone, in the afterword DeConnick says that they’re planning for about 30-issues, so we still have a long way to go. That’s why ridiculously high scores are ludicrous this early in the series. There’s no possible way for us to have received a satisfying pay-off from a great plot twist executed after deft maneuvering or to have connected emotionally with any of the characters, let alone be confident in who the cast will be going forward. That said, those things look very promising right now as DeConnick and Landro have eased us into their world and created an interesting atmosphere that makes you want to linger around in.
I have high hopes for this series. I have no doubt that DeConnick and Landro will create a compelling series with excellent female characters but I hope that the book embraces some more rounded out characters than it has right now. DeConnick especially has a track record for success, fresh off of her Eisner win last year, and so there’s reason to expect that this series will actually reach the heights many (mistakenly) think it has already. Just because it’s standing up for (I hope) a social cause that should be championed, doesn’t mean “Bitch Planet #2” gets an automatic pass that other series don’t enjoy.
“Bitch Planet #2” earns 7.7/10