Bitch Planet—Book 1: Extraordinary Machine

bitch planet book 1 extraordinary machine cover trade paperback
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10

Clever social commentary

Could have pushed it even harder

Comic Info

Comic Name:  Bitch Planet

Publisher:  Image Comics

Writer:  Kelly Sue DeConnick

Artist:  Valentine De Landro/Robert Wilson IV

# of Issues:  5

Release Date:  2015

bitch planet #1 cover variant middle finger

Bitch Planet #1 Variant

Reprints Bitch Planet #1-5 (December 2014-September 2015).  Welcome to the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost Intake Facility Two where women who are criminals, militant, aggressive, and just don’t fit the mold are sent.  Kamau Kogo finds herself imprisoned on the ACO, she is approached with an offer to lead a team in a popular televised event called Duemila aka Megaton.  Kam sees Megaton as an opportunity to further her goals now that she’s imprisoned and others in ACO have the same idea.  Ratings sell and death sells even better.  The AOC has no way out…welcome to Bitch Planet.

Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Bitch Planet—Book 1:  Extraordinary Machine is an Image Comics exploitation action social commentary comic book collection.  The book features art by Valentine de Landro (with Robert Wilson IV providing art for Bitch Planet #3).

I vaguely recall Bitch Planet coming out and some buzz around it.  Forgetting about the series, I picked it up when I got the two collections cheap.  Reading Bitch Planet—Book 1, I find the series clever, but wishing that it had even pushed it harder.

bitch planet #2 cover

Bitch Planet #2

Bitch Planet is meant to be a take on exploitation “women in prison” movies (primarily from 1970s) like Caged Heat, The Big Bird Cage, and Black Mama White Mama.  These movies generally featured very attractive women, trapped (generally framed or innocent), and brought down to the level of a prisoner.  They often involved a lesbian aspect and voyeuristic aspect which pushed the rating system.  Bitch Planet plays with this format.  It has the women, it has the prison, and it has the wrongfully convicted…but the exploitation isn’t meant for “hot action” but commentary.

There are characters in Bitch Planet who are true criminals, but the slide rule for “criminal” is a little different in the patriarchal society that Bitch Planet exists in.  It feels a bit more like the Magdalene Laundries where women deemed “loose” or “promiscuous” could be locked away by their family.  Rather than deal with the problem of reform and fair trial, the women here are pretty much put away with a puppet trial…and they aren’t happy about it.

In an age where Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has been turned into a TV series and there are more and more attacks on women and the control of their own bodies, it would be interesting to see Bitch Planet take a harder edge…the women have a right to be angry and shouldn’t hold back.  The whole series could be pushed to the next level while keeping the absurdity of the situation.  It is a decent first outing, but I wanted just slightly more.  Bitch Planet—Book 1:  Extraordinary Machine is followed by Bitch Planet—Book 2:  President Bitch.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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