In the latest installment of tales from the Bitch Planet universe, we get stories about sports, body modification, and what happened to all the subversive parts of culture once the Bitch Planet regime took over. Is it good?
The stories in this issue all cover different topics, though like good satire, all have resonance with things happening in our world now, some more closely than others. A standout overall is the art in this issue, especially the colors. The vibrancy and detail in the art brings out the more horrific aspects of some of the subject matter, as well as making each story even more compelling. Let’s dive into each one:
“Life of a Sportsman”, by Marc Deschamps and Mindy Lee, colors by Leonardo Olea
Though the sport Megaton is a major plotline of the main Bitch Planet story, we haven’t learned much about it yet. Deschamps uses one player’s journey through his career to show how the culture of hyper-violence in the game spills over into their personal lives, and how this is perceived by fans. The use of the sportscasters as narrators was a really powerful choice, since in our current culture, these folks are a major force shaping the conversation around these same issues. Of all the Bitch Planet stories, this one hues closest to current events. Practically every sentence is something that’s been said in the last year. I’m not sure if that makes this story more effective or less – I would have liked for Deschamps to push it further, make the violence even more extreme or Herman do something even worse to really hit the satire.
The moments of satire really live in Mindy Lee’s art; there are great moments in the details. I particularly liked the wink to the misogynistic Hardee’s commercials that are on now:
Leonardo Olea’s bold, primary colors boost the cartoonish quality to Lee’s panels, which fits perfectly with the story setting.
“Bodymod” by Sara Woolley
This story was very difficult to read, and not because it was a bad story in any way. In fact, I think this is the strongest story in this issue, and possibly the Triple Features in general, partly because it was so hard to read. This felt like Bitch Planet takes on the Hunger Games; the body mods reminded me of the things Suzanne Collins describes the rich, oblivious residents of the Capitol doing to themselves. In the Hunger Games, however, these follow the whims of fashion or the person’s own desires. In Bitch Planet, these are done exclusively by women to make them more attractive to men, some to satisfy their desires. Sara Woolley uses every panel to show some horrific modification these women have had done to themselves, including full nudity that is in no way titillating. Possibly the worst part of the whole story is how the women push each other to make more changes, criticizing and back-biting each other.
Woolley’s muted palette, almost sepia toned, gives the story a more realistic feel than the bolder colors of the other stories. A beautifully executed story.
“To Be Free” by Vita Ayala & Rossi Gifford
In the final story, a ballerina who is secretly a badass cat burglar, is hired to break into the Archive of Corruptive Materials, where all subversive materials, like queer art, Martin Luther King’s speeches, and Maya Angelou’s poems are kept. Ayala uses a caper story to give another view into the world of Bitch Planet, a very interesting one. “Corruptive Materials” aren’t destroyed, they are kept protected, similarly to the former president being held captive on the prison planet instead of being executed or assassinated. Ayala’s use of voiceovers over Rossi Gifford’s beautiful art is engaging and a great way to keep the pace cracking along.
Gifford’s style is perfect for this story – I love how she shows the burglar’s ballet skills in her action moves. The resistance movement in this universe is a part that really intrigues me, so seeing a story that uses that group was very exciting.
These triple features were such an excellent idea, and I’m excited to see what we get next. Also, huge shoutout to Clayton Cowles’ fantastic lettering. He brings excellent work to the regular Bitch Planet issues and many stories in the triple features.