- “The Refrigerator Monologues” by Catherynne M. Valente
- Feminist Comic Based Short Stories
- Read as a hard copy.
- 5/5 stars
- Finished October 13, 2017
The lives of six female superheroes and the girlfriends of superheroes. A ferocious riff on women in superhero comics
From the New York Times bestselling author Catherynne Valente comes a series of linked stories from the points of view of the wives and girlfriends of superheroes, female heroes, and anyone who’s ever been “refrigerated”: comic book women who are killed, raped, brainwashed, driven mad, disabled, or had their powers taken so that a male superhero’s storyline will progress.
In an entirely new and original superhero universe, Valente subversively explores these ideas and themes in the superhero genre, treating them with the same love, gravity, and humor as her fairy tales. After all, superheroes are our new fairy tales and these six women have their own stories to share.
“But a superhero is like a black hole. They bend everything around them without even thinking about it.”
I will tell you that I didn’t expect this book to just up and take my heart the way it did. I’d actually never heard of this book, and it was purchased for me by a very lovely bookish friend during a Litsy bookish exchange. I was immediately interested, as I am a big fan of comics, and especially the women of comics, and from the moment I opened this book I knew it would become a lifetime favorite.
It starts with the story of Paige Embry, who is actually Gwen Stacey. She is the “deadest girl in Deadtown”, and she tells her story, about Kid Mercury (Spiderman) and her untimely death. I wish I knew how to word better how much of an impact this amazing book had on me. Written in the style of “The Vagina Monologues”, the author was inspired by Gail Simone, collecting women who she called “refrigerated”, based off of the story of Alexandra DeWitt, a female character who was murdered, and thrown into a refrigerator, all to further the storyline of the male superhero.
I’ve only read one Gail Simone comic, and it was Batgirl last year, and the way she dealt with a character who had been refrigerated was phenomenal, so I figured that this was going to be equally amazing. This book is short, but beautiful and striking and I found it hard to read even a chapter sometimes because of how strong it resonated with me. You follow characters like Gwen Stacey, Mera, Jean Grey, Harley Quinn, and Alexandra DeWitt, who tell their stories. Honestly, and openly. Who share what they’ve been through, all at the hands of the super hero men they loved. All to further their stories.
This is truly a feminist book, but a very important one for all comic fans. One of my favorite characters of all time, Wanda Maximoff, isn’t represented in this book, but the author did mention that she was one of the inspirations for this book. Comics are becoming increasingly more popular, and as you’ll see in my blog, something I enjoy quite a lot. It’s important that in a male dominated industry, sexism starts to be unmasked, and investigated, because we can do better. This book will stay with me for a long time, and I desperately hope that someday, someone will perform it.
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