Bitch Planet #3

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Release Date:  2/18/15

Words:  Kelly Sue DeConnick

Pictures:  Robert Wilson IV

The Sitch:

Bitch Planet #3 is the first of special third issues in which there will be a guest artist and the narrative will focus on the back-story of one of Bitch Planet’s inmates.  This one is focused on Penelope “Penny” Rolle.  Penny Rolle is a repeat offender of “insubordination,” “assault,” and “aesthetic offenses.”  Obviously, Penny is non-compliant.  This is her origin story.

The Confession:

I normally don’t revisit ongoing books on this blog because I try to focus on what’s new, the potential new starts on some different reads for the usual pull list.  Only this week, I had to break the cycle.  I have to admit I eagerly read, and devoured, this one before any of the others.  I usually give #1’s the first, quick read of the week.  This time I indulged.

My confession is really a thank you letter to DeConnick.  As I have said before, somewhere in my review of Bitch Planet #1, this is the comic I’ve been waiting for since I picked up my first comic…. way, way back in the day.  When I was a kid there just were not many female characters I could relate to or admire.  It was so disappointing, not to mention frustrating.  I didn’t want to see women depicted as the scantily clad trophy on the arm of a man, a sidekick or some other insignificant supporting character.  I wanted to see more diverse women kick ass.  Where were the female led books?  Being an Asian American female I would be sorely disappointed for an unfairly long time.

Since then I’ve made do, like many of us do every day.  I grew up and I learned how to compromise. It wasn’t perfect but neither is the world we live in every day.  In recent years there have been advances but it’s painfully slow.  We still have a long way to go despite it being 2015.

And then Bitch Planet happened.

Bitch Planet #3 tackles body politics, racism, and the blatant misogyny of our society. Penny Rolle is my hero and spirit guide.  Just like the comic book itself, she is unapologetic.  I love her with all my heart.  In this book we learn her origin story, why she is where she has ended up.  Despite the attempts of “the fathers” trying to help her be happy, Penny digs in and takes a stand for herself.  She is not afraid to take up space and be her own person.  She doesn’t struggle.  She just is.  Oh my goddess she is what I strive to be. She is what I hope my daughters strive to be.

Non-compliant for life.

Guest artist, Wilson, is awesome in highlighting Penny’s story.  He has a softer edge than De Landro but makes no less of a point.  His renditions of the compliant women and superior “fathers” are in stark contrast to every non-compliant inch of Penny Rolle.  And his work on the last page was so satisfying I had tears in my eyes.  No one can break a woman like Penny Rolle.

Bold, Beautiful and Baaaaaad is an understatement.

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If you aren’t reading Bitch Planet already, hurry up and get it on your pull list.  Share it even. You owe it to yourself, your mother, your sister, your daughter, and your lover.

Bitch Planet #1

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Release Date:  12/10/14

Words:  Kelly Sue DeConnick

Pictures:  Valentine De Landro

The Sitch:

It’s the not too distant future where women who are guilty of being “non-compliant” are shipped off to a distant planet for a life of incarceration, they are told they are to “live out your lives in penitence and service” for their so-called crimes.  This planet is known to all as “Bitch Planet,” despite it’s supporters’ preference of “Auxiliary Compliance Outpost.” Earth as we know it is a man’s world and women must comply with the standards of their society.  We all know what that means, thin, white, sexy, living to please the man, the same old tired story we live every day.  Well, at least some of us.

The Confession:

Image has tag-lined Bitch Planet as, “Think Margaret Atwood meets Inglorious Bastards,” as if I needed any more incentive to pick this first issue up.  This is a sci-fi, women-in-prison with a 60’s/70’s exploitation feel kind of story.  It’s the future, but really, it’s right now.  It’s like Orange is the New Black but even better.  This is the comic everyone, not just every woman, needs to read.  It is the comic every woman, every person who ever felt not up to the standard society dictates, has been waiting for.  Have you ever felt unable, tired of, or unwilling to play the same tired old reindeer games that are being shoved down your soul every minute of every day in this screwed up society we call our world?  Are you non-compliant?

DeConnick is awesome.  She writes about characters that aren’t just strong, they persevere.  The world would be a far better place if there were more of these characters in existence, especially in the comic world.  She writes of women of all shapes and colors that aren’t afraid of who they are and refuse to apologize for it.  These are the women you’ve been looking for, the ones who truly kick ass. Penny Rolle is larger than life and proud of it.  Now, when I feel the need to raise the proverbial middle finger, I will channel by inner Penny Rolle and not feel one ounce of shame.  The plot twist at the end will hit you in the gut if you’re paying enough attention and this story deserves your attention. Give it due respect.  Read it slow, read it twice, and don’t skip any of the pages, including the back page of ads.  It all deserves your attention.

De Landro is excellent in his artwork here.  He has to draw a lot of female nudity and does so with respect, none of that sexualization of women is depicted.  This guy gets it.  It’s harsh and gritty and real, melding seamlessly with the story line.  He can also draw facial expressions with perfection.  He makes those punches to your gut that much more harsher with his talent.  Take the time to notice his details while reading what DeConnick is saying.  There is nothing disappointing here.

I cannot recommend this book enough.  I want to buy one for every woman I know, the ones who are fighting the good fight daily and the ones living in denial.  I want to buy this for every man, too.  As Eve Ensler said, “You live with us, make love with us, father us, befriend us, brother us, get nurtured and mothered and eternally supported by us, so why aren’t you standing with us?  Why aren’t you driven to the point of madness and action by the rape and humiliation of us?”

Get this book.  Now.

Non-compliant for life.

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Goners #1

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Release Date:   10/22/14

Words:  Jacob Semahn

Pictures:  Jorge Corona

The Sitch:

The Latimer family is humanity’s lone defense against the supernatural forces that plague the mortal world and they have been throughout history.  The youngest Latimer’s, Zoe and Josiah, are forced rather suddenly into the depths of the family legacy one night, scared and unprepared.

The Confession:

Goners is something like Goonies, Johnny Quest, and Supernatural all rolled into one.  It’s an homage to those adventure stories many of us grew up on and love with a fierceness only youth can conjure up.  The themes of undeniable family bonds, loyalty, and honor of family history is strong in this adventure story with a bite.  Older readers will find this as a good bit of nostalgia, the younger ones can enjoy it just as well because there is a timelessness about this kind of story.  It’s just a fun read.

The art pops.  It’s a bit manga-esque. Of course, the story does involve the undead and people do die in violent ways so there is a fair share of blood.  This isn’t for the littlest of readers because, duh, adventures that involve the young being forced to grow up and face off monsters isn’t exactly bedtime story material.  But what is depicted isn’t over the top at all and, in fact, is quite pretty to look at.  The art matches the tone of the story, there is a hopeful innocence in it that makes adventure a thrilling prospect, especially on those days in childhood when there is nothing better to do than run around with your equally bored friends and use your imagination.

All I can say is that if you are the type that gets the feels over Goonies, you may as well pick up Goners.

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Wayward#1

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Release Date:  8/27/14

Words:  Jim Zub

Pictures:  Steve Cummings

The Sitch:

Wayward #1 introduces the reader to protagonist Rori Lane, a teenager in transit.  Her father is Irish and her mother is Japanese.  She has just finished school in Ireland and is leaving her home there with her estranged father to live with her mother in Japan, a place she has never been.  Not only is Rori struggling to come of age in the midst of a broken home with the normal teenage angst, but she’s just found herself in a culture that straddles the urban life in Tokyo with the mystical underworld of Japan’s more monstrous creatures. Forced to interact with this supernatural underworld Rori discovers there is more to her, as well as the world around her, than meets the eye.

The Confession:

Wayward is like Buffy the Vampire Slayer walking in a Haruki Murkami story with a Hayao Miyazaki vibe.  I like it.  I am a sucker for Japanese myth and fairy tales.  I also like a good girl-comes-of-age-kicking-ass story.  These two loves of mine are brought together nicely in Wayward.  Rori is instantly relatable and by the time she meets Ayane and the Kappa, the reader is invested in who Rori is and where she is going.  Solid start.

The art is great for this kind of story.  It too does some straddling, partly Western naturalism with a definite manga pop.  Rori herself stands out easily in the colorful bustling of Tokyo.  It is also worth noticing how the the book starts at the beginning of the day and ends at night.  The lighting subtly shifting as you read is a nice touch.  There is something magical about day transitioning to night if one chooses to pay attention.  It’s all about the details.

Do you enjoy girls coming of age while supernaturally kicking monster ass?  Do you have a soft spot for Japanese mysticism?  Do you like manga eye candy?  What about lots of cats?  Come on, when was the last time Image disappointed you?  Get Wayward on your pull now.

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Genius #1

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Release Date:  8/6/14

Words:  Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman

Pictures:  Afua Richardson

The Sitch:

This is a 1-5 issue, weekly throughout August book.  The title Genius is in reference to a seventeen year old girl named Destiny from South Central L.A.  Only she, with her intellect and will, has been able to round up the gangs, unifying the neighborhood against the oppressive “justice” system they have been at the mercy of all their lives.

The Confession:

Since it is still a rare thing to see compelling, strong women of color lead a good comic, I found this to be a refreshing read.  Destiny’s back story is given quickly, but by the end the reader is interested and engaged with this complex character.  She is a young woman who could have succeeded in any industry had she been born into that world, but she is a product of her environment.  She is the most interesting anti-hero I’ve read in a long time.  I won’t give away more because the joy is in the journey.  Just read it.

The art is a highly stylized version of reality.  Some panels were too dark, making it difficult to see clearly, but for the most part it was pretty shiny.  The inside is not as sexualized as the cover may suggest.  The women are definitely not exploited here.

If you are looking for an original and refreshing read, are into stories of the evolution of urban warfare, enjoy those stories where it’s unclear if the main character is a protagonist or antagonist, or just want to read a story focused on a strong woman of color… give this one your time.

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Spread #1

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Release Date:  7/9/14

Words:  Justin Jordan

Pictures:  Kyle Strahm

The Sitch:

A plague of sorts has spread across the world, destroying life as we know it.  The Spread is some sort of parasitic alien monster that infects people, turning their bodies into something even more horrible than a typical zombie.  It’s a creature that calls to mind a little Romero, a little The Thing, and a little Lovecraft.  The reader meets this guy that has a bit of a badass Wolverine vibe going, who happens to be immune to the Spread infection, although that doesn’t mean he can’t be killed.  His name is No because he’s not much of a talker.  He’s a bit of a loner and a bit of a softie because when he meets up with some raiders bent on violence of their own, he rescues a baby girl called Hope.  Of course she’s called Hope because she’s got something in her that can save humanity from this new monster.  It is her third person voice that tells us this story.

The Confession:

Spread #1 is a good introduction to a story with a lot of potential.  It’s not the typical post apocalyptic tale with the usual cast of characters.  Similar to Saga, the story is told by the voice of the baby savior so you know humanity survives in some way.  Again, it’s not just a monster story but a story about how humanity, life, finds a way.  The Spread itself is pretty horrifying.  A person trying to navigate this world cannot always be sure that people they meet are actually still human.  Humanity itself is broken.  There are those that are trying to rebuild while marauders have their own agenda as well as those who are just trying to go it alone. The monsters themselves can come in any shape or form, sprouting from anything and anywhere, above or below.  One thing is for sure, everyone and everything evolves. The fun is in the watching of that evolution.

The art is spot on sci fi horror.  The use of red on the bleak atmosphere of this world turned upside down is pretty awesome to behold.  Strahm seems to know hell on a personal level.  I don’t think I want to find myself in one of his nightmares.  He is also very good with character expression.  No is the embodiment of a guy made to survive, a loner tough guy with a soft side who doesn’t talk much.  His subtle expressions say a lot.

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If you are looking to start an interesting new science fiction horror story with some solid horror artwork give this one a try.

The Wicked + The Divine #1

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Release Date:  6/18/14

Words:  Kieron Gillan

Pictures:  Jaime McKelvie

The Sitch:

Every ninety years, twelve gods are reincarnated as teenage pop music idols with only two years to live life as loud as possible before dying.  As gods are expected to do, they are drawn to the current pop music culture, inspiring passionate and devout followings in their wake.  These divinities live the life of those that appreciate youth and how fast it burns out. They know time is of the essence and are prepared to live loud and hard to use what little time they have to create meaning for themselves and the world around them.

The Confession:

Attributing music icons with deity status makes for some intriguing story telling.  It is also a common thread between cultures so it’s not much of a stretch to relate to the idea of divine connection with a musician.  I have referred to Tori Amos as, “My Goddess,” since the first time I was healed by her music so, I get it.  In the hands of someone who understands the snark of this all, as Gillan does, it makes for a very entertaining read.  I should also mention I am a sucker for an incarnation of Lucifer as a woman who answers to “Luci” and dresses like Desire of the Endless during a blonde phase.

The art is fantastic!  It has an 80’s glam feel, and I mean that in the best way possible. The visual characterization is clean and not without purpose.  Take the time to notice the details in the look of each god and the adornments that symbolize their power, and you won’t be disappointed.  On point is how well McKelvie can depict detailed facial expression of the characters where the facial tics and body language reflect the words being said flawlessly.

It’s a beautiful book…. if you like things like music, myth, gods and goddesses, Nagel prints, and Ziggy Stardust, for instance… don’t miss this book.

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