Bitch Planet #7 Review


Bitch Planet #7

Script Kelly Sue DeConnick

Art/Covers Valentine De Landro

Colors Kelly Fitzpatrick

The last couple of issues of Bitch Planet have seen the death of one of the Noncompliant women prisoners of the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost, followed by an interlude issue exploring the connection between poor Meiko and her noble father. This issue, he arrives to oversee the construction of an arena dedicated to the sport that covered up his daughter’s murder, and the men in control have to decide how much to tell him.

This issue sees more of the men in DeConnick’s world than we’ve had yet, highlighting the privilege of her set-up. When the women arrived to the prison in issue one, they were herded naked through decontamination. When men get there, they are also naked but afforded privacy and care, offered robes immediately and assigned liaisons. They plan meetings to start at 5 AM, knowing a female prisoner will have to get up even earlier to have coffee ready for them (like they like their women, light and sweet). The leader decides to hide Meiko’s death from her father, but it is done with a respect – Makoto needs to finish this arena, and there’s nothing he can do about Meiko now anyway, and when he asks about her, people apologetically redirect him.

As opposed to protagonist Kamau Kogo, who has been looking for her sister for seven issues and gets yelled at for her curiosity. She spends this issue setting up a tense intrigue manipulating a guard for information even as she and the other inmates are pressed into labor constructing the arena. When Penny Rolle is crying in the shower over her guilt about failing to protect Meiko on the Megaton field, and Kamau comforts her, the men in charge quickly separate them.

For an issue without a ton of activity, this held the reader’s attention with its appreciation for the emotional journey beneath the cover page. These women have lost a sister, and DeConnick is one-hundred percent right in giving another issue to breathe about that. When Kamau and Penny are talking in the shower, and Kamau says, “We’re strong, right? You and me, we spend our whole lives being strong, and then… one day you realize strong ain’t strong enough,” and the two women hold hands for a couple of silent panels – this part of a science fiction comic is more real than anything else I read this week.

That scene inspired guest columnist Angelica Jade Bastien to write an article about the Strong Black Female archetype, how a view of minority women can be admiring on the surface but underneath reinforces that the presentation of vulnerability is still predominantly a privilege of the groups in power. She promotes a broader range of expression for black women, such as the Carefree Black Girl and even the fiery intensity of the Madwoman, her personal alignment and a character that transgresses societal norms by showing off her vulnerability through art (she uses Eartha Kitt and Bette Davis as examples, wisely broadening beyond racial limits while still emphasizing the importance to black women in specific).

The letters column is again a powerful dialogue as good as anything in the main story. This month, DeConnick tells a trans woman writer, “You don’t have to qualify for womanhood… No one’s approval is required – not your mother’s, your aunt’s, your grandma’s, mine, or anyone else’s,” and explains that mean creatures are usually scared and, “I tell my kids to try and have pity for scared creatures – from a safe distance.” A letter from another trans woman  respectfully points out language in a previous column that granted “conditional womanhood” to the trans community, and DeConnick drops any ego in a heartbreakingly honest response including the phrases “language is clumsy and we are clumsy and in our attempt to include the non binary and genderqueer, we inadvertently stumbled into language that’s been used as a coded way to exclude or put an asterisk on transwomen. We accomplished the opposite of what we sought and we are so sorry we made you feel unsafe. It’s not your job to teach us, but we are grateful that you did.” I cried the first time I read that apology, and I cried when I transcribed it here. The comic book is teaching us how to think about the issues affecting women today. The letters column is teaching us how to treat each other as we struggle for answers together.

This was a more subtle issue than we’re used to from DeConnick and the team. No one gets raped, and the sexual politics are implied more than stated. But it continues this book’s tradition of finding unique ways to explore the female experience.

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Find reviews of the previous five issues here!