This month’s issue of Bitch Planet takes a break from the story of Kam and life inside the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost. Instead, Kelly Sue DeConnick and guest artist Robert Wilson IV focus in on one of the more interesting characters of the series: Penny Rolle.
Penny has been a fun character in the series so far, but for the most part she has been to the side or in the background. She is mean and funny, but she hasn’t had a chance to expand beyond that. That changes this week as we delve into the character’s history. DeConnick takes us through the character’s gut-punchingly sad beginnings to her dark moments of triumph before being sent to the prison planet. It’s not a happy journey, but it elevates Penny to a more interesting standing against the world around her.
I’ve mentioned the dialogue in previous reviews, but once again DeConnick writes fantastic dialogue with more than a little bite. Previously, Penny has been quick to deliver a snappy retort, but now we see her full evolution from innocent child to awkward outsider to raging dissident. It adds much needed layers to the character, allowing readers to understand and empathize. When Penny finally reaches her breaking point, you want to join her in lashing out against a society that doesn’t appreciate her. By the end of the issue, Penny Rolle will be your favorite character.
The series has been unapologetically grim and this issue is no exception. In fact, it might be the most effective issue so far in terms of tone. Penny gives us more than a passing glimpse at the world outside of the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost. It’s a violent, oppressive world that tinges even the most innocent scenes. It’s an increasingly interesting universe and I’m glad the series will be continuing to explore its history.
Wilson does a fine job on the issue, giving Penny a very expressive look that evolves through the issue. The panels capture the force of the world pressing in on Penny from all sides.
While the book doesn’t have the same gritty feel of De Landro’s work, it is nevertheless a great portrayal of the draconian society. Colorist Cris Peters does great work here, contrasting the faded flashbacks with a bright, sterile present.
Bitch Planet continues to impress. The series will be devoting every third issue to a specific character and I can’t think of a better character to start with. DeConnick and Wilson deliver an issue that, while not moving the plot forward, expands the universe in fundamentally important ways. It might have been a risk to take a step outside of the present storyline, but it was one that paid off beautifully.