Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, we discuss Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bebop and Rocksteady Destroy Everything 4, Aloha Hawaiian Dick 3, and Bitch Planet 8.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Bebop and Rocksteady Destroy Everything 4
Taylor: The title of this series basically speaks for itself: give two violent idiots incredible power and shit is almost certainly going to get broke. So the fun of this series isn’t necessarily watching things get destroyed so much as it seeing how they are destroyed. In issue, 4 Bebop and Rocksteady continue their rampage through time only now it’s beginning to become apparent what the consequences are of their rampant time-traveling. The interesting crinkle to this issue is that Bebop and Rocksteady are truly destroying everything in time, which includes even themselves.
First, Bebop accidentally kills a human version of himself when he drives his car off of a bridge during a high speed chase. Rocksteady quickly follows suit by getting his human counterpart killed in World War I. There’s something hilariously macabre about these two idiots destroying everything, including different versions of themselves, that really makes this issue a treat. As things progress chaos begins to follow the bungling pair wherever they go. Perhaps my favorite destructive act of theirs is when they accidentally combine two mutant versions of themselves by dousing them in mutagen. The result is unsurprisingly horrifying.
It comes as no surprise that Bebop and Rocksteady are self-destructive, but the horrifying results of it are shocking in a wonderfully strange way. Ultimately I think that sums up why this mini-series is so much fun. It’s weird, unexpected, and totally chaotic – sort of like its titular characters. What makes keeps things comical is that Bebop and Rocksteady have reached the point where even they know things are totally fucked up. However, as they begin to try and fix things, first by teaming up again, it appears that they will only continue to make things worse.
Aloha Hawaiian Dick 3
Patrick: There are some relationships that you have in life that are always going to feel alien to you, some other human being that you will just never truly jive with. Maybe it’s a boss intentionally keeping you at arm’s length or someone who’s perspective and values seem so far outside your own that there’s just no common ground between you. Navigating those relationships is weird, right? It may not even feel like you’re having a conversation in the real world when you meet. B. Clay Moore and Jacob Wyatt’s Aloha, Hawaiian Dick 3 shows us a number of grounded, normal relationships, and then one of those wack-ass non-relationships.
And that real, strong relationship between Mike and Byrd is my favorite aspect of this issue. Mike’s trying to locate Tread Lightly for his new mob boss back in Kansas City, but he’s refusing to ask any further questions about what it might mean to “locate” the poor guy. Byrd doesn’t quite have the same luxury of question-refusal: he knows Lightly, knows the club, knows the island, and knows that mobsters don’t send a PI to 3900 miles just to deliver a friendly hello. Naturally, Mike and Byrd have it out, but y’know, in a very civil way. Outside of one balled-up shirt collar, neither of these brothers can emotionally afford beat up the other. Which – duh. How often in life are we actually solving our problems through violence? It’s a real conflict between real people with a real relationship. Wyatt is always careful to give these “real” scenes a keen sense of detail, even while not being the most detail-oriented artist. Throughout Mike and Byrd’s conversation, Wyatt persistently renders a realistic background, insisting on the both reality of the space and the reality of the relationship at the same time.
The same absolutely CANNOT be said of Tread’s meeting with Masaki. The first time we see them together, there is no background – just blackness. When we do get to see the background, it’s punctuated by upsetting Japanese paintings depicting killer octopuses and three-eyed-oni. (Wyatt may be leaning on orientalism too heavily to conjure these images of “otherness,” but given the series 1950’s setting, it at least feels consistent with the era and genre of this story.) Tread never stood a chance at talking his way out of this one because the relationship between him and Masaki isn’t “real,” it’s a dark fantasy.
Bitch Planet 8
Spencer: As I understand it, one of the bigger problem amongst the various branches of feminism is “white feminism” — or a focus on practicing feminism in a way that only benefits the “default” of white women, and not women who fall into other races or even other identities. On the other end of this spectrum is “intersectionality,” which strives to include and enact change for all women, regardless of any other aspects of their identity.
Intersectionality is important for any woman who falls outside the mainstream, but it’s probably most vital for transgender women, who are targeted and excluded more than any other group. It should go without saying, but trans women are still women, and if feminism is meant to protect and advocate for all women, then they should be included as well. While the concept is never mentioned by name, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro’s Bitch Planet digs into intersectionality in issue 9, not only by finally checking in on this dystopian future’s trans women, but by showing the ill effects when women refuse to see and treat other women as equals.
The latter aspect is illustrated by Kogo and Whitney, who are at each other’s throats after becoming cellmates. Despite having been turned on by the “Fathers” and sacrificed as a pawn, Whitney still clings to their ideals, and thus will betray a fellow prisoner simply out of spite.
I can’t fully tell if Whitney just hates Kogo, or if she truly believes the misogynistic rhetoric pumped into her head by the Fathers, but either way, it causes her to turn against women who don’t live up to society’s standards, even though they need help more than anyone. That kind of exclusionary thinking is dangerous, and not a help to anybody (not even to Whitney herself).
On the other hand exist the Children of Eleanor Doane. So far we know little about them, but they do seem to be a group focused on not only protecting women, but fostering respect for all women and gaining power from relationships between women (look at how they identify themselves by their matriarchal lineage!). Again, who knows what this group’s ultimate goals are or whether they’ll ever find any sort of success, but so far, their methods seem to place them firmly in the Bitch Planet “good guy” camp.
In terms of Bitch Planet itself, as a narrative, DeConnick and De Landro practice intersectionalism simply by including trans women of all walks of life and treating them with dignity and respect. It’s a far cry from the hateful prejudice they face on this prison world, and as with all aspects of Bitch Planet, a clear warning of what can happen if we don’t fight for those who need the help the most.
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?