In this anthology of stories set in the Bitch Planet universe, we get three different views of law enforcement in the New Protectorate, and how those in charge use otherness as part of their controlling vision. Is it good?
It’s a very strange week to read a comic that centers around law enforcement with what’s been happening around this country; the real world feels uncomfortably close, which is kind of the point of good satire, so good job, Bitch Planet team.
Kelly Sue Deconnick has made bringing new voices to mainstream comics a founding principle in her career, and the Bitch Planet Triple Features are a great showcase of these creators. It’s interesting to see what folks who have been in the industry, but not necessarily as a creator can do as well, and we get a couple of those in this issue.
“Those People” by Alissa Sallah and Alec Valerius
This issue opens with the strongest story in the book, examining how fear and rhetoric combine to make dangerous situations explosive. The story focuses on a SWAT team member, part of a team being sent to control a situation, we don’t know what. But the commander in charge is stoking his fears, having him imagine the absolute worst, monstrous of villains.
In one of the most powerful spreads in the issue, to combat his fear, the soldier/cop imagines himself as an avenging angel to combat his fears:
The writing and art work perfectly together to show how easy it is to use language to make your enemy no longer a person but an other. “These types have almost super-human strength” echoes propaganda used to describe black men, demonizing them, which is shown literally in this comic. I was actually a little surprised that the target turned out to be a same-sex dance, but that made the scene even more powerful. It’s also an interesting revelation, showing that resistance is still happening in the New Protectorate for many different marginalized groups.
Huge props to Sallah and Valerius, with a perfect marriage of words and political cartoon-style art that creates a perfect satire.
“Big Game” by Dylan Meconis
This story follows a very similar trajectory, as a younger, inexperienced man is being lead in a mission by an older man who is teaching him the ropes. In this case, however, all the clues are set to make you think that they are on a hunt for some kind of big game:
All this is misdirection, leading to the reveal of another awful side of the New Protectorate – that they have teams to bring escaped victims of abuse back to their husbands, literally darting them like wild animals.
While the art in this story is lovely and effective, the mother nature metaphor felt a little too heavy-handed and obvious in its misdirection. I could tell from the first panel what the reveal would be, and instead of putting in so much dialogue from the older officer about mother nature, etc, it would have been more interesting to see the younger man’s hesitation or the effect the words were having on him. It was a long setup for a short payoff, and while I enjoyed reading it, it just felt like it missed the mark a bit.
“Love, Honor & Obey” by Kit Cox and Vanesa R. Del Ray
The last story in the issue also has a final misdirect, but the story itself works without it. Written like a noir detective story, a detective is brought a case of a woman whose partner died during intercourse, and the detective is trying to figure out if Betty is responsible, criminally. We see the catch-22 for New Protectorate women even in the case of a tragic medical situation – she gets the blame for both trying to get Craig to take care of his health, and for stopping when Craig tells her to. She can’t win and she’s still responsible. In the twist, we discover that Betty is a robot, and even a non-human is still held to ridiculous standards.
The story is effective, especially in how frustrating and infuriating the situation is that Cox puts the reader in. Del Ray’s sketchy, sepia-tinted art adds to the atmosphere and noirish setting.
Overall, an excellent collection of stories and another fascinating look into the deep well of the Bitch Planet world.