Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine, Kelly Sue DeConnick: Book Review

Kelly Sue DeConnick wrote a comic book any feminist will love.

Bitch Planet Kelly Sue DeConnick book review
Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine Book Cover Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine
Kelly Sue DeConnick
Image Comics
October 2015
136 pages

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?

Where are all of my die-hard comic book lovers at? Kelly Sue DeConnick‘s Bitch Planet is for you!

Bitch Planet is a gem of a read, that is not only fascinating but important especially during the time we’re in now where women have become more vocal about their roles and rank than ever. This comic book pays homage to everything women face daily and the problems surrounding this. A lot of issues we see in this comic book relate back to the ideology of gender roles; how women are expected to behave, speak, dress, and conduct themselves for the opposite sex. In Bitch Planet, we get to witness women rebelling against the cultural norm.

Now, I will admit, I’ve only read a few graphic novels in my life, but never a comic book. I’d also like to point out the fact that if it weren’t for my professor who recommended I take a class about this comic book a few months ago, I probably would have never known of its existence. Lucky me!

The story of Bitch Planet is quite simple: it’s about non-compliant women who are sent off to another planet to serve their time. The planet is essentially a prison controlled by old men behind screens and a holographic woman that orders inmates around. However, it’s the way in which these inmates are categorized as non-compliant that makes this story so relevant to the mistreatment and criticisms women face today. In Bitch Planet, we notice one woman being seized for merely appearing upset in response to her husband’s infidelity, and we witness a mother being taken away from her 8-year-old daughter when she’s deemed to be dangerous for unprecedented reasons only to learn that her daughter, too, has been sent away to Bitch Planet for being “too violent” after lashing out when a customer calls her too fat and animal-like. Then, there are women who are punished and sent to Bitch Planet for having to kill men solely for their own protection.

Throughout the story,  every “non-compliant” woman’s background is unveiled. As readers we are able to see  exactly how these women ended up on Bitch Planet in the first place.  As we take a peek through their lives before imprisonment, we then realize that every single one of these women stepped outside their boundaries to rebel against what people (or I shall say the authorities) expect of them and instead, stood up for and embraced their own actions and emotions. This society is not afraid to put women in their place whenever they want to and they have no trouble doing so as authorities lack sympathy and reasoning. Extraditing these women who had natural reactions to their particular situations is a way for the government to validate their political power.

If we take the content we read in Bitch Planet and apply it to our reality, there really isn’t much of a difference, as it is a cultural norm for women to be viewed slightly different than men in a negative perspective. If we flip the situations from Bitch Planet and make men face these same issues, it wouldn’t be a problem at all because that’s just how our culture accepts it (and this really needs to change).

For example, let’s say a husband gets upset after finding out his wife cheated – people will feel sorry for him and negatively look down on his wife. If this actually happened, people would instead help the husband, perceiving him as “the good boyfriend”, and leave the wife in the dust.  If the roles were reversed where the husband cheated on the wife and the wife reacted badly, she would then be viewed as “the crazy girlfriend.”

Although Bitch Planet is an exaggerated and extreme version of what happens to non-compliant women, our life today is really not too far from that life. Therefore, we should consider Kelly Sue DeConnick’s story a warning about where our lives could potentially end up.

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Dulcie Yamanaka
the authorDulcie Yamanaka
Book Contributor (Intern)
Dulcie is originally from the beautiful island of Honolulu, Hawaii but currently lives in Los Angeles to achieve her Bachelor's Degree in Communication. She's a book enthusiast; she enjoys reading books during her free time and after indulging in some really great books- she had started her own blog mid-year of 2017. Favorite Books- Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, Sula by Toni Morrison, and Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward