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The lives of six female superheroes and the girlfriends of superheroes A ferocious riff on women in superhero comicsA 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


10 thoughts on “The Refrigerator Monologues

  1. says:

    What Catherynne M Valente states in the afterword to her new book of stories concerning the wives and girlfriends of superhero’s titled “The Refrigerator Monologues” pertains to the untimely deaths bestowed on those ladies Emphasizing the total lack of respect for the female character roles in comics in general Valente compares this book to her personal version of “The Vagina Monologues” for the comic industryAll of the various female narrators in “The Refrigerator Monologues” are dead They tell their stories from the afterlife in a place called “Deadtown” The female hero’s gather together and aptly name themselves “The Hell Hath Club” which becomes the framing seuence for the individual cleverly written stories Ms Valente has gone to great lengths to give her characters creative and original names and powers yet the origins of the names leak through The reader should be somewhat familiar with comics and the tropes utilized in this totally original and uniue book“The Refrigerator Monologues” is dedicated to Gail Simone who was fired from writing the DC comic “Bat Girl” thus diminishing the active number of female writes in the comic industry According to Wikipedia Simone created the “Women in Refrigerators” website in 1999 The site was created for comic book fans and lists examples of the comic book trope whereby female characters are injured killed or depowered as a plot device and seeks to analyze why these plot devices are used disproportionately on female charactersKudos to Ms Valente


  2. says:

    This book is a parody and it’s not Inspired by the trope of Women in Refrigerators aka Women Getting Fridged For Manpain The Refrigerator Monologues satirizes sexist tropes within media representation And just like the trope itself this book is weird as hell It’s following a bunch of women in a literal deadtown all becoming friends with each other and telling their own stories It’s a story of solidarity between women but in the end a bit of an inconsistent one this story’s main strength is as a parody And unfortunately as someone with not much knowledge of the specific source material although plenty of knowledge of these tropes I had trouble with a few stories that had ambiguous references and therefore lost the full message My biggest problem here was the writing style This book is written in a manner that is way too complex for the source material which is essentially comic books I know Valente is known for her writing but something about it just felt odd to me than anything else Still though this book felt as if it were missing some fundamental something I think this excellent review offers some of my thoughts but I might add to this review after the book has settled in my head → Individual Story Reviews ← ♔ Paige Embry based off Spiderman’s Gwen Stacy ★★★★☆This story is about being the eual partner to begin with the one who tries desperately to continue a full relationship with her partner even as he becomes something greater ♚ Julia Ash based off X Men’s Jean Grey ★★☆☆☆She keeps popping in and out of deadtown due to retconning The concept of this is super meta and clever but this did not captivate me at all ♔ Pauline Catch based off Batman’s Harley uinn ★★☆☆☆uh Well this story didn’t was by far my least favorite First of all this story on audiobook was incredibly grating and difficult to listen to But perhaps important I felt the author simplified Harley uinn’s character and especially her future development to make a point It felt like am oversimplification of basically one of two comic book characters I actually follow and I did not like it♚ Bayou based off Auaman’s Mera ★★★★☆This is a story about being demonized for your own emotions This mainy worked for me because I loved this character Bayou is bitter and jaded and completely aware of her flaws yet so effortlessly sympathetic Despite my lack of idea of the source material the tropes being subverted here still ring true ♔ Daisy based off Daredevil’s Karen Page ★★★★☆This story is about becoming the secondary the one who stays at home and how it can cause you to lose yourself Daisy’s character is complex and intriguing and I adored her arc ♚ Samantha Dane based off Green Lantern’s Alexandra Dewitt ★★★☆☆Oddly despite this being about the original woman in a fridge this story is about being the progression of anti authority work to authority and fame Yet I found the ending somewhat unsatisfying → overall ← a satisfying collection but I wanted a little bit Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Youtube


  3. says:

    35 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum wonder what it’s like to be a girlfriend or wife of a superhero? The answer is not so glamorous in The Refrigerator Monologues a new book containing a series of linked short stories by Catherynne M Valente Inspired by “Women in Refrigerators” a term used to describe a trope used in many comic book plots involving the deaths disablement and disenfranchising of female characters to forward a male superhero protagonist’s storyline this clever collection offers both a darkly humorous commentary on the subject as well as a vicious lampoon on these kinds of story arcs as a wholeMeet the six women of the Hell Hath Club all inspired by well known characters in the DC or Marvel universes so that even passing fans of comics should recognize some of their origins There’s Paige Embry the brilliant and driven college student who saw her bright future snuffed out when she was thrown off a bridge by her superhero boyfriend’s arch nemesis Gwen Stacy anyone? Or how about the powerful telepath and telekinetic taken away at a young age for a school for special powered people to fight another group of special powered people by an ostensibly well meaning professor who later puts Jean Gre—I mean Julia Ash on an otherwise all male superhero team called the “Millennial Men”? And of course there’s also Samantha Dane based off of Alexandra Dewitt the girlfriend of Kyle Rayner whose gruesome manner of death in the Green Lantern comics is what inspired the “refrigerated” term in the first placeThe tales go on like this each one exploring the background of a female character who has been killed depowered or generally dismissed in favor of the male superheroes and in one case a supervillain in their lives Now the six of them meet regularly in the afterlife hanging out at a uaint little joint called the Lethe Café where they share their stories support each other and listen to the gargoyles bands play punk rockThe Refrigerator Monologues was a uick read offering brief but plentiful examples to illustrate the concerning trend in comic books of having bad things happen to female characters as merely a plot device While these are entertaining stories I’m afraid there’s also very little lightness to them After all the women portrayed here are meant to represent the victims of “lazy writing” and “stock storylines” most of them reduced to playing second fiddle to their male superhero counterparts or as pet causes for their romantic partners Valente shines a harsh subversive light on the injustice and absurdity of these situations from Gwen Stacy whose death has somehow become an inextricable and defining moment in the life of Spider Man to Harley uinn who is forever standing resolutely by the Joker even after the bajillionth time he leaves her to rot in Arkham The short vignettes here capture both the tragedy and comedy of the women’s fates by putting readers in their shoesI also thought the length and format of the book was perfect for the author’s vision It is clear anything less would have failed to deliver the same level of poignancy while a longer book containing stories would have run the risk of being repetitive The writing style here is very distinctive aiming for biting humor and as much as snarky finesse though after a while I found it difficult to distinguish the different voices of the women for they all seemed to speak with the same mannerisms By the end I was also feeling a little weary and heartsick from the underlying tones of sadness and dejection For you see this isn’t a book that “fixes” things nor was it ever meant to be—I think Valente put it best in an article I once came across where she said and I’m paraphrasing based on memory “I might not be able to swoop in to save the damsel but I can turn on the mic to let her scream” You might read these stories expecting anger and indignation from the characters but ultimately the Hell Hath Club isn’t so much about fury than it is about a place where its members can come together to vent grieve commiserate or simply to tell their personal stories and be heardIn closing I also want to give special mention to the world building of Deadtown Aside from being the most uniue and interesting aspect of the book this brilliant setting ties all the characters’ stories together and gives this collection a special touch Being dead isn’t easy—you’re basically stuck wearing whatever god awful outfit you were buried in for all eternity and there are bizarre rules like how all food can only be made from plants and animals that have gone extinct or that the only books available are those that have been forgotten to time etc Still it isn’t all bad Residents of Deadtown share the afterlife with a population of friendly gargoyles who sure know how to have a good timeFinally you certainly don’t need to be familiar with comics or comic book characters to appreciate this book but knowing some of the context would probably help Sharply droll and acerbic The Refrigerator Monologues offers a look at the superhero genre from a rare but important perspective Whether these stories make you laugh or cry pound your fists or roll your eyes at the end of the day they’re bound to evoke emotions and start some conversations And sometimes that’s all that really matters


  4. says:

    I know I keep saying this about Cat Valente but damn this is great stuff Six women in six linked short stories They're all superhero fodder Oh Raynor she's been refrigerated All the names have been changed but we can see who they are rather easy and delightfully so They're genuine female viewpoints and the ranting from a bar in Deadtown while listening to gargoyles play punk music is also delightful as hell but what we've really got is Jean Grey Harleuin Gwen Stacey and even poor Raynor's dead girl in the refrigeratorEven so much than the names are changed Whole complex storylines mythologies and characters eual to or even better than the source material in all comic books are in full evidence in Valente's work A ton of love and care and I should say it CARE was put into this writing and her visionIt's eually biting satire deep love for the comic mythos ranting raging and a delightful romp with some very interesting women that know how to be as funny as they are outragedPick up on the Vagina Monologues vibe? It's true and real but given to our favorite women who have become meat for the main men's sad arcs I think it's well worth the read whether or not you're a fan of the comic industry mythosThese are uite genuine and powerful stories in their own right and it transcends almost all competitors


  5. says:

    Totally recommended for fans of superhero comics and feminism The Refrigerator Monologues contains six short stories from the perspectives of fictional female characters who were killed or assaulted for the sake of progressing a superhero storyline With plenty of wit and voice Catherynne Valente takes a stab at the many misogynistic tropes in superhero comics ranging from how women are punished for showing emotion while their male counterparts rage all the time and get rewarded for doing so to how women in general get killed off to advance men’s storylines Valente rerenders these tales to give voice to these women and to expose the sexist content many of us have ingested without enough critical thinkingI enjoyed reading this one a lot only giving it four stars because I am mostly unfamiliar with the original stories and characters so I did not get a few references Still Valente’s commentary is spot on and transcends the superhero genre – yes I’m thinking precisely of Ernest “misogyny” Hemingway and other glorified white men in the western literary canon Appreciative of Valente for tackling this issue in an innovative way and excited to read of her work


  6. says:

    The website Women in Refrigerators wwwlby3comwir compiled a list of all the female characters who were maimed killed or had their power and agency otherwise taken from them as a plot device to move the male characters’ arc forward instead of having some real story and character development of their own in the mainstream comic book cannon This was not something I’d ever given much thought to mostly because I am not such a rabid comic book fan but once I was made aware of this I started watching superhero movies a little bit differently And while I feel like there are plenty of great female characters out there it’s impossible to ignore that there are so many of them that were treated as cannon fodder to give their superhero boyfriendrelative a reason to go on rampages against the supervillains Kidnapped taken hostage tortured mutilated manipulated and killed to make a guy in a cape tickValente disguised her characters very well but even without in depth knowledge of Marvel and DC comic characters I was able to infer who were the women telling their stories there are also plenty of little Easter eggs for serious comic nerds She placed them in one of the strangest and most intriguing versions of the afterlife I’ve ever come across; a place where people wander a bit aimlessly acting like they are still alive out of habit In that strange place six women meet up regularly at a gargoyle run bar to share their stories They all come from the same world where superheroes and supervillains are battling each other all over the place often with twisted and tragic conseuences – and these women happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time The stories are a subversive rant against the fate these women had to endure the stories they never got to share because they were murdered driven insane disabled or cruelly abandoned so that a man could carry on Valente gives these characters a distinct voice and a chance to say what they have been holding back for so long and they spill their guts in anger guilt and dark humor A woman that had too much power and had to be controlled and stopped by her male counterparts A woman who fell into a literally insane and abusive relationship A woman who sacrificed her life and dreams on the altar of her partner’s glory Things like that happen in comic books but they happen in real life too Valente’s writing is as usual stunning While every story in this book is amazing I especially liked Pauline’s but then I’ve always been fascinated by the Joker and Harley and Bayou’sSome critics have called the book heavy handed but I think it is necessary food for thought It is necessary to get mad about the interrupted corrupted lives these characters suffered Not that there is anything we can do about it expect maybe write stories a little differently in the future? Enthusiastically recommended to all comic book fans and to everyone who has been curious about what the other side of the story felt like


  7. says:

    Cat Valente has become one of my favourite writers She seems to be an allrounder who can write space opera as much as whimsical fairy tales full of artistic prose or a book offering a critical look at women in comicbooksShe is a uirky person who loves art and poetry as much as computer games and comics Her love for the latter especially shows here Because loving something doesn't necessarily mean not being critical of it And let's face it no matter how much you love comics many of them have some obvious problemsA while ago another woman named Gail Simone called the world's attention to the major problem with women in comicbooks She called the phenomenon the women in refrigeratorsFor those of you like me who don't know it she named the phenomenon after a girlfriend of Kyle Rayner's the next Green Lantern after Hal Jordan who got murdered and literally stuffed in a refrigerator for him to find solely so he could get worked up in a rage resulting in him being able to be the hero and beat the villainJust like this famous example that gave a name to the problem almost all girlfriends wives mothers other female superheroes even or any other kind of women represented in comics end up like a plot device to spur on the hero and make him get to the next level in his existanceThus Valente took 6 examples some are fairly obvious representations of famous comics others I have to guess or maybe I'll google them of such women and wrote their stories They are all dead now and form a sort of self help group where they talk about what their story was really like How their men kept secrets from them didn't really care about them or their children or their wives' own powers so long as they could be the stars of the show In the process we get a 360° look at the kind of partners these women have been because they were almost all different in how they supported their menOne story as I said in my status update was not very much to my liking as I didn't see the girl being a victim of anything other than her own bad life choices that she then blamed on the guy Other than that I definitely see the problem and had seen it in some comicbook movie adaptations even coughGwenStaceycough and that gave further delight to these tragic tales of sacrifice love and deathSome of these stories are uirky and wonderfully well written some go that extra mile to also rip your heart out All of them show the author's talent as well as her attention to detail and uncanny ability to take a theme break it up into its individual parts and then throw everything back together but in a slightly new and better wayFor anyone interested here is a breakdown of who the ladies represent didn't take a peek until now that I've finished the book and I got 4 out of the 6 right without being too well versed in comics I should or could have known #5 as well but that's ok Anyway interesting article


  8. says:

    35 stars These stories were takes on classic superhero stories of the heroes love interest getting killed with recognizable tropes heroes and situations throughout I found it enjoyable but overall pretty depressing as expected but not in as deep or complex of a way as I’ve seen in other stories discussing similar topics As with any short story collection there are also some stories you’ll love than others which brings the overall rating down


  9. says:

    I belong in the refrigerator Because the truth is I'm just food for a superhero He'll eat up my death and get the energy he needs to become a legendIt's no secret that I'm a huge Catherynne Valente fan and this book is no exception This was surreal exuisitely written and brimming with so much VOICE So often in stories the death of the love interest is just a character impetus for the male protagonist Her death shapes his purpose gives him depth makes him relatable in his suffering So many women are sacrificed at the altar of the dude's story and I loved how Valente gave them voice It reminded me of a phrase one of my college professors often repeated cherchez la femmeLook for the womanLook for the woman in the narrative Look where her eyes go Look at the slant of her mouthThen you know the story


  10. says:

    You can always rely on Valente to take a genre this time it's comic book hero stories and turn it completely on its head