Bitch Planet, if you aren’t already aware of it’s premise, is Kelly Sue DeConnick(of Captain Marvel and Pretty Deadly fame)’s dystopian future satire of the female exploitation genre, and of heteronormative patriarchy as a whole. Women who are deemed “non-compliant” (i.e. they do not “fit” into what is societally expected of them) are sent to the prison planet known colloquially as Bitch Planet. Women are sent there for any number of reasons, some as rational as committing actual crimes, some as genuinely terrible as being framed so their husband’s can start a new life with a younger woman, or for being too fat.
Issue #6 came out at the beginning of January, and I genuinely couldn’t wait to get hold of a copy. Mostly a flashback issue, it focuses on Meiko Maki – who was murdered in issue 5 – and her childhood and family life, and explains how she ended up living, and ultimately dying, on Bitch Planet.
I’m not going to lie – when I saw the issue began with a trigger warning for sexual assault, I was apprehensive. Whilst I’ve never experienced or been through sexual assault, I have seen across various mediums and platforms that it is more often than not depicted quite horribly. Often, sexual assault and rape are played for shock value, or to put a leading female through a trauma so she can continue forth on her journey.
I was very pleasantly surprised. The themes of sexual assault throughout the issue are (mostly) subtle, and instead of being played for shock value or to give Meiko a tragic back story, it instead highlights the injustice both within the universe of Bitch Planet, and indeed with our own society. The issue was beautifully drawn by Taki Soma, and DeConnick’s writing is as sharp and sensitive as ever. The issue was heartbreaking and sad without playing into sexist tropes of female trauma, a line that is often crossed in regards to sexual abuse of any kind. Rather than letting the assault define Meiko, this issue lets readers explore who she is as a person, and defines her by her love for her family and the cause they support, in turn showing their love for Meiko and her sister, Mirai.
While this is unrelated to the story, as someone who is new to single issues, it was so lovely to read through the community pages at the end and see so much feedback and discourse around Bitch Planet and how it can sometimes mirror how women are seen and treated in society.
All in all, this issue is a gem, much like the rest of the series so far. It’s not often media that is hyped up actually lives up to it, but Bitch Planet and it’s newest issue does so in leaps and bounds.