Destination: Bitch Planet

9 12 2014
"Bitch Planet" by Kelly Sue DeConnick (w) and Valentine de Landro (a)

“Bitch Planet” by Kelly Sue DeConnick (w) and Valentine de Landro (a)

Criminally Non-Compliant women are shipped from Earth to a prison planet by a society that deems them unfit or too problematic for our world.

No, this is not a description of the Republican party’s ultimate wet dream. It is the new Image Comics title from Pretty Deadly and Captain Marvel scribe, Kelly Sue DeConnick. Bitch Planet, with art from Valentine de Landro, hits shelves on December 10th and pays homage to some of the classic “women in prison” exploitation films of the late 60s and 70s.

Decades before Orange is the New Black became a household name and the darling of Netflix’s streaming media catalog, grindhouse theaters screened films such as Caged Heat, Women in Cages, and The Big Bird Cage as part of double-features or all-night bills. Known for their low budget and explicit content, exploitation films, and the “women in prison” sub genre, have arguable historical importance and may or may not have paved the way for some of the rough-and-tumble female bruisers that we see in our comic books and on television today.

Pam Grier in Roger Corman's "Women in Cages".

Pam Grier in Roger Corman’s “Women in Cages”.

While most, if not all, of the films from this category are sadly only known for visually catering to sexual fetishism (bondage, S&M, voyeurism), film historians and many feminists argue against this being the only merit to remember. The female characters in these movies range from the brutal to the victimized and are often imprisoned falsely or for non-violent crimes by a patriarchal society… the same sort of society that would sooner force a woman to spend her waking hours in a kitchen rather than earning equal pay for work.

tumblr_ndt76uhZkJ1qz6egko1_500Nine times out of ten, the films end with the imprisoned women powerfully uprising to attain justice for the sadistic abuse they endured and achieve freedom at any cost. By the time the credits roll, the women are empowered and their captors eliminated.

Already receiving glowing reviewsBitch Planet‘s arrival couldn’t have been timed better. With women constantly on the proverbial chopping block with political rulings such as the infamous “Hobby Lobby” decision, books like Kelly Sue’s newest endeavor and the now-cult-status-level films that preceded it will always be important to not only give a proverbial middle finger to patriarchal society, but to prove that women will never back down… even when physically or metaphorically caged.


Porcelain: What Is The Secret?

3 12 2014

From the bisexual Catman to the lady-loving bruisers, Scandal Savage and Knockout. Readers familiar with Gail Simone and/or her previous run on the villain-centric DC title, Secret Six, know that she is not one to shy away from diversity in her titles. Today’s long-awaited release of the New 52 iteration of the book looks to be as inclusive as its predecessor.

(L to R) Black Alice, Strix, and Porcelain

(L to R) Black Alice, Strix, and Porcelain

To sum up the first issue, we see a group of kidnapped villains waking up together in a windowless cell as part of some social/psychological experiment. None have any idea how they arrived in their present location or who brought them there. Among the deviants are familiar faces, Catman and Black Alice, as well as Batgirl’s deranged nemesis, Shauna Belzer (a.k.a. The Ventriloquist) and the Court of Owls assassin, Strix.

One of the new faces in this group is Kani (a.k.a. Porcelain) a metahuman whose power manifestation causes physical matter turn brittle. Physically speaking and in comparison to the gothic bombshell, Black Alice, Porcelain comes across as androgynous. This is further perpetuated by the fact that, on the cover of the first issue, Kani bears a striking resemblance to the legendary Miss Grace Jones.

Catman meets Porcelain

Catman meets Porcelain

In addition to the character’s striking physical appearance, readers are given quite an interesting exchange of dialog between Catman, Porcelain, and Big Shot (another captive). Catman addresses Porcelain as “mister” but this “error” is immediately corrected by Big Shot. Instead of confirming gender, Kani merely says, “Let’s not say things we can’t take back.”

Given what we know of Gail Simone, her consistent championing of LGBT inclusiveness, and the inclusion of Alysia Yeoh, a transgender character, in the pages of Batgirl, it is not beyond reason to wonder if Porcelain could be another transgender character or, perhaps more likely, a genderqueer character.

Whatever secrets and development unfold with regards to Porcelain, Secret Six will surely be chock full of character variety and fantastic storytelling.