Normally I don’t swear on this blog yet this comic’s title is forcing me to break that rule, so 0/10. I’m kidding but honestly, this is one bold book, from the front cover to the very last page. It’s amusing at first that Kelly Sue DeConnick, one of the more prominent feminists in the comic industry, is writing what is on paper such an exploitative piece. But there’s a lot more to this comic than just a bunch of women thrown onto a prison planet just for being non-compliant. For one they’re all actual characters and not just there for titillation. The subtext and social commentary is about as subtle as a cargo ship smashing into the docks at full speed, and that’s part of what makes this comic so great.
A lot of the sexism taking place in this fictional universe is exaggerated compared to the real world, but that doesn’t make it any less valid. In BP, any woman who doesn’t comply with society’s standards of beauty and behaviour are thrown onto Auxiliary Compliance Outpost until they either learn to comply or they die, more likely the latter. It, along with the essay after the main story, explore how sexism is still at large today even though many people still deny it. Even besides these themes, this is a fun comic to read.
DeConnick’s mastery of dialogue is on full display here, with a variety of voices from early on. The opening riot kicks off from one prisoner simply complaining about how her outfit is too small in an amusing way. After that, the story really starts to develop through simultaneous narrations that mesh well together and slowly reveals how treacherous this world really is. The twist at the end is kind of genius, and completely changes who the series protagonist will likely be.
The art by Valentine De Landro is great. It’s worth noting here that there’s a lot of nudity in this book throughout the first half, with a surprising and refreshing variety of body types on display. The art is simple at first glance, but there’s a lot of visual storytelling. The opening pages show the cities on Earth, complete with tons of advertisements on the streets, exaggerating how terrible beauty magazines are in a blatant yet brilliant way. The environmental detail continues throughout the book, from the opening halls of the prison complete with a creepy “welcoming” hologram to the green stalls, and all the pipes and platforms above. Facial expressions perfectly capture the despair from a woman who was put in prison for no good reason, all the scheming people back on Earth and the sleazy men who observe the prisoners and narrate the whole thing.
This comic certainly won’t be for everyone, and not just because of the mature content. The blatant symbolism may turn off some, and if you believe that sexism isn’t an issue anymore, this won’t be for you. For everyone else, this is a well thought-out comic with plenty of potential to explore, and with the surprise shift in main characters at the end, this series could go pretty much anywhere. It may be a women in prison comic on the surface, but it’s much deeper than that. Whether you’re a fan of Kelly Sue DeConnick or you’re interested in this sort of storytelling, you should pick this up.