With the first issue of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Bitch Planet, I did a page-by-page analysis. I’ll do that with this one too, because there is plenty to talk about in the scenery and references, but I wanted to start with a good ol’ relatively spoiler-free review of Issue #2.
Most importantly, the issue lives up to its predecessor. Like the issue prior, this one is provocative, thoughtful, intriguing, and, at turns, unnerving. It lacks the gut-punch bait-and-switch of the first issue but trades that in for a twisting of the knife, a deepening of the cut.
Our issue picks up back on Earth where the back room of a catered dinner convention is taking place. With the exception of the white manager, all of the staff has browner shades of skin. The cooks are men, the waitresses are women, and this double divide–race and gender–sets the stage for a speech a very important man is making to the gathered attendees. They are exclusively white, fancily dressed in tuxes and ballgowns. The Man is speechifying on tribes, discussing the us versus them mentality, and in so doing highlighting the running theme of the comic.
Like in the previous issue, the system seems to deconstruct itself on the page. The voices of power directly addressing the powerless but not understanding the ramifications of what they say to the silently witnessing audience (that’s us, readers!).
What the issue also delivers is more wonderful Kamau action. She’s approached to create a team of sports-gladiators for the Megaton games out of the inmates on Bitch Planet. Engagement in the games is down, and Roberto Solanza of last issue thinks a nice non-compliant team might be the answer. She doesn’t know what’s in it for her except public humiliation and a loss of dignity, but the other inmates begin to change her mind.
We also get more on the workings of Bitch Planet as well as the group of men known as the Fathers who apparently pull the strings of society. And we get more dystopian, sci-fi-oriented, compliance and non-compliance in relief. Artist Valentine de Landro continues to draw whole narratives into the background of scenes, deepening the world and adding ironies both humorous and disturbing.
DeConnick writes at the back of the issue that the story is mapped for 30 issues, coming out monthly. Next issue will be a special back story on our beloved “Born Big” Penny Rolle, out Feb 18. That’s only 2 weeks away, but I’m just itching to have it in my hands already.