When I was asked to review Bitch Planet, I jumped at the chance. The name alone is enticing…right?
I agreed to the review and did a quick Google search to see what I was up against. Come to find out; Bitch Planet is so much more than a catchy title.
Bitch Planet is everything we need right now.
According to creators Kelly Sue and Valentine, the series is a “dystopian, feminist sci-fi take on exploitation genres that attempts to be both satirical and intersectional.”
To say they succeeded would be an understatement. Triple Feature knocks it so far out of the park that not even Superman can see the ball.
But before we get into that, let’s chat about the story.
Bitch Planet Triple Feature takes place in a dystopian future ruled by a patriarchy. They call themselves the “Fathers” and women who fail to please them are labeled “non-compliant.”
The worst of the worst are exiled to Bitch Planet.
Bitch Planet Triple Feature (the comic in review) is an independent series that adds and intertwines with Bitch Planet.
So, just to be clear, the comic we’re talking about does not take place on Bitch Planet; it takes place on Earth.
Ok! Now that we got that out of the way let’s talk about this kick-ass comic!!
It opens on an interview, and we’re introduced to Lupe. During the interview, she is asked about her work experience as a lead medic on Bitch Planet.
We then go back in time to a flashback of her last day…
A scuffle breaks out with an inmate. Lupe directs the medics to tranquilize the inmate, but she’s interrupted by a superior officer who directs them to stand down. Lupe challenges him but is told that “drone girls” are his business.
The next day, Lupe is fired. Her boss doesn’t believe her explanations.
She is sent to work as a maid for a guy named Harding, one of the society’s elite. There, we learn that the “Feed” has replaced the web as a means of entertainment for the masses. We also learn that the elite wants more. Harding wants to be entertained by the “real world,” by nature. Lupe overhears him say he has installed cameras in some of the drones and has been distributing the footage.
The system glitches out, and Lupe draws a knife. The scene ends.
We turn the page to see an assembly room with a prominent podium. The color scheme and artwork style has changed which is confusing at first…but then makes sense. This is a new storyline.
Two women are bustling about, preparing for a press conference. Their chat is the first real clue about the demeaning nature of this society.
The younger of the two women, Carol, is searching desk drawers, looking for a piece of candy. The older woman, Agatha, comments on the piece of candy “going straight to her waistline” and the younger replies with “I had seven leaves of spinach and a carrot for lunch. My blood sugar is low.”
Obviously, this is a joke (literary satire), but how many of you have overheard or participated in conversations like that?
Yes, “seven leaves of spinach and a carrot for lunch” is extreme, but that’s what makes it satire, right? What I’m trying to say is that most of us women (and some men too, duh), have dealt with image issues, especially issues surrounding our weight.
But more on that later.
Their conversation is interrupted when a new secretary, Anna, walks in the door. She’s been assigned to Tommy Rodgers who has been chosen to give a speech about a new amendment the current administration is pushing.
Naturally, he isn’t prepared and asks Anna to print off a copy of his speech. She rushes off as one of Rodgers’s colleagues, Bisbee, enters the scene.
Bisbee is dripping with chauvinism. He ogles Anna and asks permission to hit on her. When he has it, he follows her into a private, back room.
I’m sure you can guess where this is headed.
Anna is desperately trying to print the speech, and she’s running out of time. The press conference is scheduled to begin any minute.
She struggles with a mouse and computer monitor (because the tech is “outdated”) as we watch Bisbee aggressively hit on her. Anna tries to focus on her task, but he is relentless, finally grabbing her and fondling her until he gets his way.
By the time she gets out of there, Rodgers is done with his speech. He then scolds her, shaming her for putting her love life before her work.
The artwork changes again and we are instantly pulled into a new storyline.
Leslie dreams of becoming an important businesswoman…literally. We catch her in the middle of an elaborate daydream where she is powerful and in charge.
We soon discover she’s at the beauty salon getting her hair done to land a big promotion. Her boss told her she needed to be “bigger on top” and she interpreted that to mean he wants her to have big hair.
(I think we all know what he really meant.)
She shows up the next day with her brand-new hairdo only to learn that not only did she get passed up for the promotion, but she’s fired. She begs to keep her job, but it’s no use; her boss and his busty secretary laugh in her face.
Humiliated, she leaves the building with her box of personal items and walks out into the pouring rain. Immediately, she sees a red-cloaked woman repelling off the side of a building. She is vandalizing the building with red spray paint.
Leslie shouts up at the woman, warning her that she’s being watched. The woman in red replies with, “We see you too.”
Before Leslie can react, she is almost run over by a douchebag driving an orange sports car. Instead of apologizing, he calls her “titless” and blames her for getting in the way.
Looking up at the building, she sees that the woman in red has finished. The building now reads: “We are not broken. Eleanor lives.”
Across the street, she spies a news anchor, with a live camera crew, giving a broadcast. A lightbulb goes off in her head. She takes a marker from her box of personal items and writes “Eleanor Lives” across her chest. Taking the time to cover her nipples with pasties (which have stars on them), she lifts her shirt and charges the camera shouting “Long live Eleanor D-.”
Tackled before she can finish saying Eleanor’s last name (a great hook by the way), she falls to the floor, hard. She’s roughed up, but as the comic ends, she smiles.
She overhears that her naked body is leaving a lasting impression. She is making an impact…
When I finished reading, I had to sit back and process. The only other comic I’m reading right now is Teen Titans, and this is nothing like that series.
Kelley Sue and Valentine are attempting to deliver content that is satirical and intersectional. While the intersectional content in Triple Feature is light (it all begins and ends with Lupe), when it comes to satire, they’re killing it.
It’s heavy and thick and because it’s is commenting on something so icky (chauvinism and sexual harassment), it’s somewhat uncomfortable…and thus, impacting.
Don’t get me wrong. Uncomfortable doesn’t mean shocking. Women are used to this sort of thing. The chauvinism depicted in Bitch Planet Triple Feature is extreme, but most women have encountered a sexist man (or two) in their day. Sadly, that’s just the way it is.
And that’s what makes Bitch Planet, and all its supporting series, so fantastic. It’s raw and direct. It over exaggerates the idea of chauvinism and patriarchy and doesn’t apologize for it.
For that, I’m thankful. Women kill themselves to be skinny, to be important, to be equal to men (because many of us think we aren’t). A lot of us associate our self-worth with a man’s approval.
I am one of them…or at least I used to be. I used to care so much about how I looked. I used to care so much about making men happy.
When I was in college, I had my own personal experience with “ridiculous food rationing for weight management” too. I was in a production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where I played one of the “fairies.”
My costume was awesome, but it was somewhat revealing. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was being oversexualized. All the fairies were.
The costumes were all pretty intense, but mine had to be the most scandalous. My legs were covered by spandex, but my torso was bikini-clad. Meaning my cleavage was savage and my stomach was exposed.
I’ve never been that confident about my stomach (I’m no Britney), so I started to ration my food to keep my weight under control. I wanted to look skinny.
So, I gave myself one protein bar for breakfast and lunch (I don’t remember the dinner ration). How ridiculous and unhealthy is that?
I was literally starving myself so I would look skinny. Why?
Because I thought that anything else was unattractive. Anything else was offensive.
Fortunately, I grew out of that and stopped caring about men and what they thought of me…but it was hard. It took a lot of work.
What makes Bitch Plant Triple Threat so great, is that it puts chauvinism, and it’s sickening effect on the female population, in the spotlight. Women are over-sexualized, especially in comics, and this series calls it out. In fact, the demonstration is so blatant, so obvious, it simply cannot be ignored. It must be talked about and discussed.
That’s the power of good, culture-altering writing. That’s the power of Bitch Planet Triple Threat…and that’s why it’s everything we need right now.
Bitch Planet: Triple Threat
Written by: Andrew Aydin, Cheryl Lynn Eaton, Conley Lyons
Art by: Joanna Estep, Maria Fröhlich
Cover by: Valentine De Landro