Women, refrigerators, and an upset fanbase

Oh (cold) snap.

Back when DC was pissing off fans by making Hal Jordan evil and killing off the Green Lantern Corps, a new GL named Kyle Rayner was introduced.  Perhaps you’ve heard of him.  With Kyle came his girlfriend Alexandra DeWitt, a typical mid-90’s comic supporting cast hottie.  Kyle and Alex had a good thing going until the prime jerkface Major Force showed up, strangled Alex and stuffed her in a fridge for Kyle to find.

With Kyle’s tragic introduction into 1994 DC Comics came a so-called “movement” (giving it credit) known as ‘Women in Refrigerator Syndrome’.  Credited to current DC writer Gail Simone, Alex’s demise is the poster case of a trend in comics in which female characters are used (or sometimes even created) to be maimed or killed to further the storyline of a male character.  A website was created (now found here) in which various people sought awareness of the demise of such female characters, with the thought that if such a trend continued, female fans would be turned off with no characters left to identify with.

That site started over a decade ago, and to a point, I would agree with it.  But overall, I find the site far off of its original topic (meaningless deaths) and more along the lines of saying that no female characters should be killed in comics – ever.  The general thesis of the site has been lost in favor of just listing a bunch of dead/injured characters.

Past the jump, I’ll go through the list and question what the problem is with some of them.

Aurora (Multiple Personality Disorder, depowered)
Aurora’s multiple personalities was a key aspect of the character.  It’s what made her interesting to begin with.

Batgirl I (paralyzed)
Barbara Gordon’s injury wasn’t because she was a woman, but because of her ties to Commissioner Gordon.  Had Gordon had a son all those years ago, it would have served the same purpose.  Also keep in mind that less than a year later, the Joker also killed off the Jason Todd Robin.  But really, this injury completely rejuvenated the character into Oracle – making her far superior to what she had ever been as Batgirl.

Candy Southern (dead)
Yes, Candy was killed off to further the decline of Archangel (as well as finish off his battle with Cameron Hodge).  But what would be better?  Killing her or sending her into character limbo like Beast’s old girlfriend Vera? 

Captain Marvel II/Photon (depowered, ceded code name to a male hero)
In all fairness, Captain Marvel was a pretty terrible name for the character anyway.  The Captain Marvel name was used to establish a legacy character – and Monica Rambeau did not fit into that legacy.  Photon is a better name anyway.

Domino (kidnapped, tortured)
Domino is a mercenary – that is what the character does.  How many male mercenary characters get captured and tortured?  Plenty of them.  Are you saying that Domino should never get into bad situations simply because she’s a woman?

Dove II (dead)
If you recall, Dove II took the mantle after the death of Dove I.  And Dove I was a dude.

Gwen Stacy (dead)
Really?  You’re complaining about one of the most important Spider-Man stories ever?  Gwen Stacy’s death provided something to the comic that something that the likes of Harry Osborn or Flash Thompson simply couldn’t provide.

Invisible Woman (miscarriage of second child)
Sue Storm’s miscarriage was done to add a sense of reality to the title.  The Fantastic Four are a family, and tragedies like this befall families.

Kinetix (depowered twice, catatonic)
I’ll cede this one.  Legion creators really hated Kinetix.  She also got turned into a weird creature (twice) then was killed off.

Moira MacTaggert (diseased)
Moira MacTaggert contracting the Legacy Virus was a huge deal since she was the only human to do so.  She was the ideal character to have this happen, as she was pretty much the only one still dealing with it.  Do you know who else caught the Legacy Virus?  Pyro, Multiple Man, Mastermind, half of the Externals, Abyss, Maverick.  Do you know what they all had in common?  They were dudes.

Rogue (just plain messed up)
So you’re complaining about what MAKES THE CHARACTER?

Triplicate Girl (one body killed, one presumed dead but revealed to be Glorith’s pawn)
Triplicate Girl losing one of her bodies wasn’t due to her being a woman, but more about what her powers were.  It was a key development for the character – not something done to push a male character.  And Glorith?  Also a woman.

Wonder Woman (killed, revived, but lost goddess powers)
Really?  Wonder Woman?

The list is much lengthier, but reading through it made me think that whatever point this was trying to make has been lost to people basically listing females in comics.  Anytime I hear someone mention ‘WiR’ upon the death of a female character, I just want to smack them.  Just like they did in the ’50s.  Now that you can complain about.


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