Working with the Bitch Planet team, a diverse team of creators tackle three stories in the world of Bitch Planet, forming the first of five anthology issues. Is it good?
Writer: Andrew Aydin, Cheryl Lynn Eaton, Conley Lyons
Artist: Joanna Estep, Maria Fröhlich
Publisher: Image Comics
Each story deepens the world of Bitch Planet, giving us stories that complicate, and show how fragile, the New Protectorate really is.
“Windows” by Cheryl Lynn Eaton and Maria Fröhlich
Cheryl Lynn Eaton dives further into the most complicated people in charge on Bitch Planet – women. This story ties into one of Bitch Planet’s influences, The Handmaid’s Tale, and the Aunts who are part of the structure of authority and repression. Lupita, the main character of the story, is torn – she’s a true believer, and has served the Fathers of New Protectorate faithfully. But she hasn’t lost her basic morality and her struggle against the power she’s backing when faced with the reality of its abuses. Like Serena Joy, she’s forced into subservience by the very forces she serves. And once faced with the depths of Father’s behavior, she has to act.
Eaton’s dialog is powerful, and perfectly layered with Maria Fröhlich’s playful but powerful art. I love how she plays pastels and the retro comic dots against the violence in the panels.
“Without and Within” by Andrew Aydin and Joanna Estep
Aydin’s story focuses on an area he knows very well, politics. Specifically how the legislature in the New Protectorate works, which is a play of actual democracy. Aydin shows how little power both men and women have in this society, where all the shots are being called by a committee of old white men, but also how men take advantage of the power they have over women in every situation.
What disgusted me the most in this story wasn’t the pageantry of “government” on display, it was the harassment Anna had to deal with while doing her job. And it’s no different than what plenty of women deal with now. How many women have to agree to a date with a guy, or a drink, or give their phone number just to get away and get on with what they were trying to do? How many women feel like they have to be polite in these situations? Too many. Bisbee and Rogers reminded me of Trump and Bush in that Access Hollywood trailer – we’re living in this world now. Estep’s cute manga style is an excellent foil to the ugliness of the action.
“The Invisible Woman” by Conley Lyons and Craig Yeung, with colors by Marco D’Alfonso
In my favorite of the anthology, Lyons gives us the story of a woman we only caught a glimpse of in the main Bitch Planet storyline. Leslie’s story felt so painfully familiar to me because of her innocence and her ignorance of the system she’s caught in. Misunderstanding what her boss meant about “more up top”, constantly attacked for her body, but her dogged belief that she can still make her dream a reality even in the current world.
What makes this story special is the joy and optimism that it’s infused with, especially Craig Yeung’s art with Marco D’Alfonso’s bold colors. Leslie’s daydream, her hairdresser popping up through her giant hair, and especially the look on her face as she uses the thing she’s most maligned for to fight back. The story pops and is the perfect ending to a fantastic issue.
I love seeing what different creators do in established worlds and these three stories knocked it out of the park. I think these anthology issues are going to be something to look forward to, and I’m especially excited to see who else Kelly Sue and Valentine tap to participate.