I recently read two trades that on the surface, could not be more different but which underneath present similar arcs of feminist liberation.
Bitch Planet: President Bitch is the second volume in the ongoing dystopian science fiction saga written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and illustrated by Valentine De Landro. The series is set in a futurist world where the Patriarchy has been taken to the next level: white men (and women, to a certain extent) hold all the power and any woman who is arbitrarily deemed non-compliant is sent to a terrifying prison-planet, the eponymous Bitch Planet.
The story returns to the grim reality of the prison, just as the women have been tasked to create a team to participate in a brutal sport competition to be live streamed to male viewers. This is clearly part of an ongoing conspiracy that becomes more apparent in this second volume just as the cracks in the system become wider and wider. This second volume features a narrow scope in terms of characters (at least compared to the first volume), but it widens the arc to include a broader view of the world and its background, including a surprising look at other facilities within Bitch Planet (including a building that seems to hold exclusively trans women). It also introduces one major character: President Bitch.
Bitch Planet: President Bitch is dark, brutal, angry, infused with earthly brown colours and super cool pulpy art by Valentine De Landro.
Another Castle: Grimoire is a graphic novel written by Andrew Wheeler and illustrated by Paulina Ganucheau. Published earlier this year, it collects issues 1-5 of what feels like a self-contained, rounded story. It follows princess Misty of Beldora, who is expected to make a marriage of convenience very soon but who yearns for a life of adventure and freedom. She gets captured by the evil lord of the neighbourhood kingdom of Grimoire, who intends to marry her and conquer Beldora. Contrary to all expectations – and subverting epic fantasy tropes really well – Misty is a knight in shining armour (more or less), but not a lone saviour. Working together with the subjugated people of Grimoire to overturn the evil lord, this is a story that markedly examines the ails of monarchy and the pros of democracy. Just how the latter can be introduced, is part and parcel of the story.
Initially naïve, but very earnest in her pursuit for a better life for herself, Misty finds herself in a situation where she has to listen to others. And each character has their own mini-arc: from Gorga, who needs to find her own power, to Peter, Misty’s intended who needs to learn to relate better to people. From the real heir to the Throne of Grimoire and his boyfriend Fogmoth, who is both a baker and jailor, to the three sisters who can tell time.
Another Castle: Grimoire is a fun, funny, light, delightful read infused with bright colours and beautiful illustrations by Paulina Ganucheau.
They were both brilliant, in their own way. One is epic science fiction the other epic fantasy. One is all muted earthly colours, the other bright pinks and purples. Both tell tales of revolution and change, of oppression and liberation. Both feature a plethora of queer and poc characters. And both are most excellent and highly recommended.