Created by: Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro.
Windows by: Cheryl Eaton and Maria Fröhlich.
Without and Within by: Andrew Aydin and Joanna Estep.
The Invisible Woman by: Conley Lyons and Craig Yeung, with colours by Marco D’Alfonso.
Published by: Image Comics
Because nothing is scarier than a woman who doesn’t conform, relent or stay subservient in a patriarchal society, there now exists an off-world penitentiary in Bitch Planet created by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro. Here, supposedly troublesome and offensive women are incarcerated in a satirical triple feature. Of course, in this universe set in the near future, it doesn’t take much to be troublesome or offensive: just non-compliance.
The first thing that strikes you about Bitch Planet before you even read any text is that it features women who look far more like regular, average women than we are typically used to seeing in comics. Even better is that once you get to reading, the interactions, particularly between the female characters, are scarily accurate and realistic.
As someone who has previously been turned off of many comics because of how women are represented, Bitch Planet was a breath of fresh air. It’s unabashedly feminist in content and I enjoyed the fact that all three features were very different in their style, with The Invisible Woman being especially beautiful.
The first feature Windows starts with a job interview and in the process, we see the character Lupe flashback to her stint at Bitch Planet before gaining a job in the private sector. It’s an unhappy job for her, where she feels her qualifications are wasted. She isn’t there long before a female colleague firmly and memorably puts her in her place. But, as it turns out, you can take the woman out of Bitch Planet but you can’t take the bitch out of the woman because she soon finds her place and it’s definitely not in servitude.
Second up is Without and Within. I didn’t find it to be particularly satirical but I did enjoy its honest portrayals of female friendship in the workplace. It very much captured the subtle manipulations and power imbalance of women suffering from sexual harassment at work. If you have worked with other women in an office, or have been on the receiving end of unwanted attention at work this one will have you nodding your head from start to finish.
Lastly is The Invisible Woman, in which we see a naive woman trying to progress and get noticed at work, only to end up being passed over because she is small chested. Her naivete soon turns into anger and defiance, we see the power of a woman refusing to conform or compromise her principles. Essentially, if you can’t get even, then get mad!
If you like subversive, offbeat satire that passes the Bechdel test every time (and I do) then Bitch Planet is for you. The triple feature can feel a little choppy at times and often left me wanting more solid conclusions and endings, but overall, I found it a good read. It has left me wondering what stories further volumes will cover, and I look forward to reading them.