Zeb Larson reviews Bitch Planet #4…
A secret prisoner may be the ringer Kam’s girls need if they hope to survive the coming deathmatch. Series co-creator VALENTINE DE LANDRO (X-Factor) rejoins KELLY SUE DeCONNICK (PRETTY DEADLY, Captain Marvel) on art.
Finally, Bitch Planet is back, and it’s in roaring good form. Honestly, after the last couple weeks I’ve had and the absence of many of my favorite books, I needed this issue. The critique of male sexual entitlement, particularly regarding lesbian or bisexual women, is devastating and yet still filled with humor. I will not be discussing any spoilers ahead, so read on.
Kamau is beginning to assemble her team to compete in the Duemila/Megaton game, but there’s one inmate with no name that she cannot find and is very curious about. We learn a little bit about the shower system in the prison and how guards use it for their own pleasure, which Kamau plans to use against them. There’s some explanation of the mechanics of Duemila and Kamau’s plans, all of which revolve around an inmate whose name nobody seems to know.
I love the humor behind the shower scene. There is of course the title announcing it: “Obligatory Shower Scene,” which speaks for itself. It’s more than just satire, though. The revelation that one guard lets two women have sex in the showers in exchange for being able to watch is the real piece, though, because it speaks to the peculiarly voyeuristic homophobia that many heterosexual men feel for lesbian women. They find it objectionable and they might want lesbian sex to be criminal (after all, they were in this country not so long ago). Yet they also demand the right to watch and enjoy those acts, albeit in a very limited venue like a hypothetical porno set in a women’s prison. Hence the “Obligatory Shower Scene:” most of the audience wants it, but only in the strict terms that they dictate, and they want it strictly as a commodity.
Honestly, watching Kamau lay some serious smack down on the peeping guard is a joy too, in part because she’s so good at turning the tables on him and in part because it’s a larger stab at male sexual entitlement. This particular has a lot of sex in it, but Delandro and DeConnick are very good at stymying the male gaze throughout. The lesbian shower scene is notable for all the things it doesn’t show (not what we’ve come to expect, right?), and when we finally see something explicit with Kamau, she only uses it as a means to distract and then attack the guard. You can read some additional significance into that, too: by attacking an observer, abstractly shown with one eye, Kamau is also attacking the male gaze, and implicitly the viewer.
Of course, we get some useful information about what the games will look like and a glimpse of Kamau’s team in action. Penny is an unstoppable badass, like we’ve come to expect, and Meiko will be the sprinter on the team. All this makes for a fantastic read. I won’t lie and say that I loved waiting for this issue, but honestly, if it takes two months to produce an issue this good, I can wait. Cheers, Bitch Planet.