Warning: Feminist Satire Ahead.
So, as I said this book is a feminist satire. It is definitely one of my favorite things I’ve read this year. It is extreme. The language, the images, the violence, more than I’m used to, I admit. But for me, unlike Orange is the New Black, it’s never too much, and all seems relevant, so it wasn’t a turn off in this case.
This first volume includes the first 5 issues. Each one builds into the story and felt like pure perfection for me as a brown “angry feminist”.
The first issue basically introduces Bitch Planet. This is a place in a futuristic society where they send “non-compliant” women, and mentally and physically torture them into submission. This basically sets up a future society which is just a tiny step left of our own, where women exist solely for the entertainment of men. It felt so real, to be honest. It’s hard to explain. But my feels are there.
The second issue goes into the actual plot. This issue further introduces Bitch Planet and made me mentally make tie ins to the Hunger Games. There is a feed of the Bitch Planet that is used for entertainment. The “Fathers” that run the society are more concerned with ratings than they are with the women that are actually being held. Also in this volume, a competition is introduced. After having super high ratings when a sports player is killed during a game, the Fathers decide to kill of their more difficult women by having them play sports against professionals. A woman is picked to form a team. The woman, Kamau, hopes she’ll be able to outsmart the fathers with the other women on this team.
The third issue goes into the individual story of my personal favorite character, Penny. She is imprisoned for aggression, but also for being overweight. In many ways her story reminds me of myself. This story is introduced as the Fathers trying to play games with her by dipping into her mind. By the end of the story, Penny gets the sweetest revenge. When asked what her perfect body would be, she can envision nothing other than the body she has. That is the kind of revenge I would like to have on society as well. To live up to no one’s expectations but my own.
The fourth and fifth issue are the introduction of the actual game and the plot to outsmart them. It goes into the plotting from both the women and the Fathers’ side of how the game should go down. It all culminates with the death of a character, Meiko, during a practice run of the game, which also displays how the Fathers intend to take away any chances of the women having a fighting chance of survival.
There were some extras in this book as well, which I found some of the most charming. At the end of each comic is a back page of ads, remnant of the ones that used to be in superhero comics associated with childhood. The ads serve as some of the most obvious satire, and was one of the things that really sold me for the book. The second extra I really appreciated was that at the very end there was a list of discussion questions. This brought so much legitimacy to the text and really left the reader something to ruminate on, and I appreciated that.
My ending thoughts are, as a feminist, I loved the content of this book. I identify deeply with the non-compliant woman, and in these political times, I really needed this book. The artwork was perfect. I loved the retro feel, and the clear and concise presentation, that fit a lot of action into a tiny bit of space, but did not confuse the reader into what was going on, or what order it was being presented in.
The ending of the book, with Meiko’s death, REALLY packed a punch, and I was left thinking of ways that Meiko’s father (the designer of the game’s future stadium) might become an ally of the women. I think this could explain the significance of her death, and is also something I’d thought of since his introduction, as he seems to be a sympathizer to the women. I’m excited for the second volume to come out, and to see what happens next.