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Was it WiR?

Now that I have my definition for Women in Refrigerators, I think it would be interesting to look back at the last year or so (Infinite Crisis #1 on) of bad stuff that has happened to female characters in comics (okay, basically just superhero comics), and see if I think it falls into the category of “Women in Refrigerators.” Spoilers follow! Otherwise…

Enjoy!

To refresh, I use a bipartite test to determine if Women in Refrigerators (WiR) has occured.

1. (Objective) A female character is killed/maimed/tortured/raped etc. for the main purpose of eliciting a desired reaction from a male character.

2. (Subjective) I do not believe that the same death/maiming/torture/rape would have occurred had the female character been a male.

So let’s begin!

Phantom Lady being killed

WiR. No

Why?/Why not? She was just one of the Freedom Fighters who were slaughtered.

Pantha getting her head punched off.

WiR. No.

Why?/Why not? Just one of a bunch of deaths of Titans. It was pretty hokey, but it seemed pretty indiscriminate as to who was getting killed.

Jade dying.

WiR. Yes.

Why?/Why not? Jade’s death during Infinite Crisis was almost solely to make Kyle Rayner change as a character. He gave her her powers, so when she dies, he got the power back, which supercharged him, making him become Ion.

Batgirl becoming a villain

WiR? I say no.

Why?/Why not? I think you could stretch #1 and say that the main reason that Cassandra Cain was made a villain was to mess with Batman and/or Robin’s head. However, this is the same sort of silliness that has happened with all types of comic characters for ages, male and female. Heck, didn’t Jason Todd JUST come back as a villain? So I think it would have occurred if Cassandra Cain was a male character. Still, quite bad writing there.

Batgirl becoming a villain due to Deathstroke pumping her with chemicals.

WiR? I still say no.

Why?/Why not? This one is a lot closer to WiR, as you could make a good argument that the idea of Deathstroke doing it to specifically who he considers to be Batman’s “daughter” as being a sexist thing, but I think it is more a general thing. Batgirl was screwed by just being the most replaceable character in the Bat-titles, which you could argue is an example of sexism, in that female comics sell worse than comics starring men, but that is going way past WiR, I think.

Laurie Collins is killed.

WiR? Yes

Why?/Why not? Laurie Collins was a mutant student at Xavier’s School for Mutants. She was involved with a fellow mutant named Josh (his codename was Elixir). She was killed by a sniper in front of Josh, causing him to basically snap, leading him to gain new powers (his old powers were healing ones, he now gained powers that could KILL). The story in the comic for Laurie’s death was that the bad guys had a vision of her defeating them, but it is clear in the comic that the main purpose of her death was to cause Josh to snap, thereby advancing his character. And I don’t think the scene would have occurred with a male classmate of Josh’s.

Moondragon got pretty messed up during Annihilation

WiR? No.

Why?/Why not? Nothing that happened to Moondragon seemed all that out of the ordinary for the series, where a number of characters were being similarly affected.

Isis killed by the Four Horsemen

WiR. Tough call, but I’m going with no.

Why?/Why not? The point of introducing Isis and Osiris was to give Black Adam his own Marvel Family, and then take them away from him and see what he’ll do. So to that point, part one is certainly fit. But since Osiris’ death was also involved, it seems a bit tough to say that Isis’ death had to be a female, since her brother was ALSO killed. Then again, it was HER death that made Adam go kill an entire country, while he was still hanging on to his sanity when it was just Osiris who was dead. Hmmm…it’s a tough one. I’m going with no WiR, but I’m willing to listen to opposite takes on it.

Batwoman was stabbed

WiR. I’m going with no.

Why?/Why not? I think it just seemed like it was a standard plot device. There could be an argument made that she was a WiR with a twist, as she was stabbed to elicit a specific response from Renee Montoya…and there’s definitely something to be said for that, but also, Batwoman got her own revenge in the comic, so I dunno…I mean, it’s not WiR because it is not done for a male character, but even if Renee Montoya was a male (and Batwoman wasn’t a lesbian), I don’t think it would fit.

Aunt May gets shot, goes into a coma

WiR: This is a tough one…it sure seems to fit, doesn’t it? I’m still saying no.

Why?/Why not?: This has all the trademark qualities of a WiR, in that May getting shot was solely to see what it would do to Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man. The only reason I am excluding it is because of the “wouldn’t happen with a male character” part, in that Spider-Man is probably the most famous example OF a character reacting due to a male character’s death, his Uncle Ben. So killing his Aunt years later seems to be a bit similar to Ben’s death, and I think it takes it out of the typical WiR paradigm.

Thanks, Mike, for the suggestion!

Feel free to point out some other examples that I have missed!!

54 Comments

MJ got pretty badly fridged in Reign.

Should we just start calling Kyle Rayner “The Fridge”?

I fully support calling Kyle Rayner “The Fridge”, but only if it’s pronounced, “Da Fridge!!!”, with at least three exclamation points.

Dating Kyle Rayner is one of the only things in the DCU that’s 100% fatal.

And I don’t care if it’s a WiR moment or not, Laurie Collins dying was the happiest comic moment of 2006 for me. I’m not a big fan of the intense slaughter in New X-Men, but I really hated this character and seeing her die made the psychopath in me a very happy boy. The only downside was the fact that they didn’t kill Elixir while they were at it.

You didn’t mention Looker’s death, which doesn’t fit, but is still the greatest crime in the history of comic books.

I’ve decided that Looker’s death didn’t occur. I think it is unproven, consarnit!!!

What about Gert dying in Runaways? I mean, essentially it made Chase Stein less of a joke, powered him up by providing him with a handy Dinosaur, and sort of gave him his new attitude.

Yea, I’m grasping at straws. If only she was dating “Da Fridge!!!” I mean, isn’t it well known fact that Green Lanterns love underage trim?

I have to disagree on Pantha. By your definition: “killed for the main purpose of eliciting a desired reaction from a male character”

She was killed to elicit a response from not just from SBP, but Red Star and Baby Wildebeest, her husband and adopted son. It was her death that caused things to go to hell, as Red Star and BW vowed vengeance (the scene is built on the “you touched my stuff” cliche) and bumrush him. It was after Pantha’s accidental death, that SBP starting intentionally killing. BW gets to die the manly death of trying to avenge his mother, while Red Star gets a boost of character development and out of limbo.

If Jade dying counts because it was to change Kyle, than Pantha should count because it changed SBP and Red Star.

Weirdly, your list has caused me to rethink my position on Isis as WiR. While Isis was, indeed, the last straw, it was the combination of Osiris’s death, the betrayal that occurred there, and Isis’s death that led to him snapping. So, yeah. I’m moving her out of the refrigerator.

Man, I have a hard time associating Women in Refrigerators syndrome with “fun”…

(Interesting post, though.)

“Dating Kyle Rayner is one of the only things in the DCU that’s 100% fatal.”
It’s 125% fatal. Donna has died TWICE.

I agree with your Isis determination. It’s not that HER death specifically sent him over the edge, it’s that she was the last person. If she’s been killed first, I imagine Adam would have still held on to watch out for Osiris – at which point it would be HIS death that sent him over the edge.

So was “Civil War: The Initiative” the anti-WiR? Or, specifically, the anti Laurie Collins?

A comment on some of the comments above. I think for something to be WiR, it has to occur specifically to cause a reaction/plot point for male characters, not simply have male characters reacting to it.

If a writer kills a character for other reasons and then has related characters, male or female, react appropriately that’s not WiR, that’s good writing.

If a female character is killed for no reason other than to elicit those reactions, then it is WiR.

Simply having male characters reacting to it is not a good test of WiR without other considerations.

Laurie Collins dying the was the best thing to ever happen in NXM, solely because it permanently ended that sure-to-be-horrible plotline about her father coming onto Xavier’s staff as a guidance counselor and trying to use her to get his powers back they were laying the groundwork for before the switch on the writing staff.

i got what you were saying, but i wasn’t really onboard with actually using the term until Dan K’s post. Fridged. Has a ring to it.

Good point, Lynxara. Intellectual exercises are fun for me, but I can understand how the term seems out of place with the topic, so I edited “fun” to “interesting.”

I have to disagree on Pantha. By your definition: “killed for the main purpose of eliciting a desired reaction from a male character”

She was killed to elicit a response from not just from SBP, but Red Star and Baby Wildebeest, her husband and adopted son. It was her death that caused things to go to hell, as Red Star and BW vowed vengeance (the scene is built on the “you touched my stuff” cliche) and bumrush him. It was after Pantha’s accidental death, that SBP starting intentionally killing. BW gets to die the manly death of trying to avenge his mother, while Red Star gets a boost of character development and out of limbo.

If Jade dying counts because it was to change Kyle, than Pantha should count because it changed SBP and Red Star.

I think you’re giving Geoff Johns way too much credit (is credit even the right word?) for that scene. I don’t think he was thinking that deeply about it. He just as easily could have had Baby Wildebeest be the one who got his head punched off, and Pantha reacted poorly. Or Red Star get blasted, leading to Baby Wildebeest freaking out.

The scene was written as just an attempt to show how badass Superboy Prime was by having him slaughter a bunch of Titans.

It’s not comics, but since SO many bad things happen to female characters on Heroes, I figured I’d toss in Charlie, the waitress. That’s so a WIR situation. And maybe the only one on a show which involves females getting their brains cut out, tossed in asylums, and impaled fairly reguarly.

I appreciate this examination of the term, but I just wanted to chip in that the thing about WiR is that its merely a clearly identifiable symptom of a wider … issue that superhero comics, read broadly, don’t just have a lack of cool female characters, the overall culture can seem hostile to women, so even women who might otherwise be interested can get turned off the whole shebang.

That’s happening to a friend of mine right now, who’s been reading for about 20 years, and loves her some capes.

Reminds me (a little) of the stuff Christopher Priest addressed in his ultimate essay on why black kids (and adults) can find it hard to get into superhero comics.

Actually, I’d say that WiR is a clearly identifiable symptom of the issue that comics protagonists tend to be male, rather than female. If you look at comics with female protagonists, you do see a corresponding “men in refrigerators” trend (or, in one notable case, “synthezoids in refrigerators”.) This is because, fundamentally, the protagonist’s romantic interest is always susceptible to the writer’s desire to give the protagonist a new romantic interest (for a wide variety of reasons), and having the romantic interest die is “easier” than laying the groundwork for a breakup.

Obviously, male romantic interests dying are rarer than female romantic interests dying, but female protagonists are rarer than male protagonists. It’d be interesting to see if, on a statistical basis, female leads have their boyfriends/husbands die off less often than male leads have their girlfriends/wives die off. (And also same-sex pairings as well, although I think that’s rare enough as things currently stand in comics that it wouldn’t be a good sample size.)

This is not to defend the “women in refrigerators” syndrome, by the way–merely to point out that the problem is actually as much a lack of female lead characters as it is violence towards women. Dating the lead character is always a dangerous occupation; Ms. Marvel’s psychiatrist only had to consider asking her for a date, and he got shot in the head by Mystique.

Did Ms Marvel’s psychiatrist ask her out on a date? If so, that’s some really poor writing, due to how completly unethical/illegal that is.

Yes, I did COMPLETLY miss the point.

I think you’re giving Geoff Johns way too much credit (is credit even the right word?) for that scene. I don’t think he was thinking that deeply about it. He just as easily could have had Baby Wildebeest be the one who got his head punched off, and Pantha reacted poorly. Or Red Star get blasted, leading to Baby Wildebeest freaking out.

The scene was written as just an attempt to show how badass Superboy Prime was by having him slaughter a bunch of Titans.

In a Wizard article online about him writing that scene, he said one of the reasons he picked Pantha because her death would affect Red Star when they told his story. Furthermore, Johns specifically said that he wanted people to focus on SBP’s actions, and not the victim (he wanted “people to say ‘Look what Superboy Prime did!’ not ‘Pantha died!’” in his words). So that seems to fit your definition.

Yeah, it could’ve been BW killed and Pantha reacting, or any other character. But Johns choose to use a woman’s death as turning point for a male character and the plot, and it still played on the male vengeance cliche with that panel of RS and BW vowing vengeance.

Any thoughts on:

Earth-2 Lois Lane in Infinite Crisis?

Dream Girl in Legion of Superheroes?

As for Isis, can it be considered WiR if the character was created with the specific intention that she would die at some point? It’s not like the writers are taking an established character and killing her willy-nilly, her death was the whole point of her creation.

As was the point of Alex being stuffed into Kyle’s fridge in the first place no? That’s likely what she was created for, given how soon after her first appearance it happened.

I don’t see how creating a woman to die just so the man can get REAL MAD is any better than killing an already-existing woman just so the man can get REAL MAD.

It might not be better from a sexual politic point of view, certainly creating a female character just to die is just as bad as killing an established female character. It might be better from a writing viewpoint, in that it’s not spur of the moment shock value, it’s a specific plan to further the story. I guess it just seems to me a difference between shoddy plotting, and more thought out plotting. Especially on the long time line of something like 52, where as a reader, you know this was planned X months ago, and the ending is what the whole thing has been building to. When a writer kills off an exisiting character with no build up, it’s cheap shock value. When a writer has a plan and makes the reader care about the character, and takes the time to build up the arc, and then eventually kills off the character, that’s a higher level of craft, to me at least.

Very interesting post. I wonder, have more female heroes/supporting characters than male ones died in the last year (or since IC #1) in general, whether they were, um, “fridged” or not? That seems like a pretty long list of bad things happening to women. I suppose that’s a hard question to answer though, considering the sheer numbers that died in IC (Phantom Lady died with a couple of guys, Technocrat died alongside Looker…yeah, that’s right. I know Technocrat’s name. What of if?)

Any thoughts on the WiR status of Hulk #105?

That’s a Planet in Refrigerators issue

The thing is, John Seavey, that I can think of only four real examples of a reversed WiR situation

– Mystique killing Ms. Marvel’s prospective boyfriend to cement their emnity…which was rarely if ever mentioned again thanks to Claremont’s shift to Rogue

— Tigra’s backstory involving a police officer husband who was killed…and then essentially never mentioned again

— the Golden Age Black Canary switching Earths and joining the JLofA because Larry Lance died battling a mad constellation, which has been mooted by continuity shifts since Crisis, and before Crisis by the very weird “mother in the daughter’s body” retcon

— The Pre-Crisis Wonder Woman seeing Steve Trevor killed in front of her, which was eventually undone

— Sue Storm dressing in a peekabo spandex outfit and going a bit mental after Reed seemingly died during DeFalco’s FF; that death was also eventually undone

The difference is that none of those have become touchstones for the characters involved. In every case, with the possible exception of Tigra in her Cat days, the death of the boyfriend or the husband doesn’t become a milestone plot event, or a motivating trauma. There’s no gender-swapped equivalent for Gwen Stacy, the Spider-martyr, or Alex constantly coming back up in Kyle Rayner stories, or Mariko’s death making sure that Wolverine never has a serious love interest again, or the unending miseries of Matt Murdock over Karen Page and Elektra, and so on.

On those rare occasions when a male love interest dies, it’s to write him out and move on; female love interests die in order to remotivate or motivate male characters, and their deaths are “events.” Part of it may be that female characters, even as headliners, don’t generally move through many civilian love interests — superheroines seem to end up dating superheroes a lot more often than superheroes wind up dating superpeople, for instance.

And part of it seems to me to have to do with the generally lesser importance of male love interests in comics that feature superheroines. Lois Lane can get her own spinoff comic, but when Steve Trevor was written out of Wonder Woman with the Crisis, his evident superfluity meant that only the diehards gave a hoot. And I’d wager that Green Arrow is so identified with Black Canary that not many people now even remember Larry Lance.

But the net effect of all of this is that female superheroes have, on the balance, much weaker supporting casts, especially civilian supporting casts, than do male heroes. Most of them seem to have no personal life outside of their superteam. Male heroes, on the other hand, get fully fleshed-out civilian lives. She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel are probably the major exceptions here…and neither of them has ever had an ongoing, canonical love interest of sufficient heft to be killed off with the sort of impact that male heroes’ girlfriends routinely generate with their “character-building” deaths.

Someone said far up “that is why there aren’t any “cool” female characters.”

I beg to differ, the “cool” female characters have stood the test of time. The “not so cool ones” just aren’t that memorable. So if their deaths are a plot device that expands ANY character, female or male, its not my place to put them in a box.

And beyond that, I’m sure that there have been many male characters that were created just for the effect that they would have on the female lead.

In T. Williams Glass Menagarie, Jim is a character created just to cause an effect on Laura.

The Children (male) in Medea were created so that their deaths would have an effect on Jason.

Tybalt and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet were created to get a response out of the title characters.

Death as a plot device is as old as time and it doesn’t just happen to women.

Killing off a supporting character to give the lead a bit of emotionally depth is a devise which has been used by pretty much every writer under the sun over the years. Somtimes it works, somtimes it doesn’t. Love interests are an obvious target for fridging and in male dominated world of comics that usually means women.

But to be fair, family, friends and sidekicks also come in for fairly frequent fridging: just think how many orphans their are in comics. Most longstanding characters will have lost lovers, parents, adoptive parents, clones, and alternative dimension children. That’s just comics baby!

It’s a whole lot harder to continue to write about a happy couple than it is to just add a whole lot of strife.

At least when you’re talking about serialized storytelling that never ends.

I doubt Nick and Nora Charles would still be together if Hammond had to write about them monthly for decades in a story that just kept going.

But then maybe he was good enough of a writer to pull it off.

Donna Troy’s husband also died (although by that point, I think he was her ex-husband. But still, he clearly died to elicit an emotional reaction from her.)

The Vision died, and was rebuilt as a personality-free android solely to begin Byrne’s “Scarlet Witch goes crazy” storyline. Took years to make the character workable again.

Hawkman is currently missing in DC continuity (unless they found him very recently) in order to force Hawkgirl to be a more proactive superhero.

Again, I’ll agree that the examples are rarer when the genders are reversed, but they’re there when you start looking for them, and I do think they’d be less rare if there were more female characters headlining their own comics. And again, this isn’t to say “There’s nothing wrong with the ‘women in refrigerators’ issue,” just to point out that it’s an effect of having so few female leads in comics (which is, in and of itself, sexist.)

Regardless of whether or not the female characters listed fit Cronin’s altered WiR definition, the fact remains that with those deaths, there are less female characters around now.

And more to the point, you can make up any sort of imaginary scenario of, “Well, if the character was X instead of Y, they still would be dead, so therefore X and Y don’t matter.” That doesn’t change the fact that Pantha is a female character who had her head punched off in a comic by a crazy adolescent male. And that with Pantha getting her head punched off, there’s one less female character in the DC Comics pantheon. Pantha COULD have been Bouncing Boy OR The Thing OR been Optimus Prime. But she wasn’t any of those thing. On the page, she was a she and she got her head punched off.

On top of that, Pantha getting her head punched off DID serve to motivate an emotional change in a male character. Namely, the psychotic Superboy character.

Isis is the same thing. You can conjecture that Isis COULD have been a purple meteor instead of a beautiful arab woman. The fact is, she is a she, and she was created to add more femicide to the DCU.

Anyway, since the beginning of it, the closest thing I ever saw to a point of WiR when it was made almost (but not quite yet) a decade ago was that there were a lot of female characters who had been raped/depowered/maimed/killed and that the effect of this was to have less female characters with which women could identify. So, regardless of whether or not these women fit the new definition, they’re still dead characters that some other girl can’t enjoy.

Meanwhile, Judd Winnick gets Jason Todd back but none of the girls get Spoiler. *shrugs*

“Sue Storm dressing in a peekabo spandex outfit and going a bit mental after Reed seemingly died during DeFalco’s FF; that death was also eventually undone”

That’s not true, she started dressing in the peekaboo spandex outfit either during or right after the Infinity War, after she absorbed her doppelganger “Malice” during a fight. Reed didn’t “die” for almost a year after that (I believe that, by that point, she had taken to wearing a jacket most of the time to de-emphasize the peekaboo a little bit).

He just as easily could have had Baby Wildebeest be the one who got his head punched off, and Pantha reacted poorly. Or Red Star get blasted, leading to Baby Wildebeest freaking out.

The scene was written as just an attempt to show how badass Superboy Prime was by having him slaughter a bunch of Titans.

Well there is also the fact that Baby wildebeest had a hole punched through his chest and Red Star did get blasted, (Though it was shown he survived being blasted in Teen Titans), to back up that last statement.

Laurie Collins dying the was the best thing to ever happen in NXM, solely because it permanently ended that sure-to-be-horrible plotline about her father coming onto Xavier’s staff as a guidance counselor and trying to use her to get his powers back they were laying the groundwork for before the switch on the writing staff.

Amen to that. Not only was Laurie a flat character, but the story you mentioned was not going to be good. Between the super-slow build-up to what’s bound to be not very interesting (pheromone fight! woo!) and the fact that the teachers/headmasters had to act pretty stupidly out of character around her father (like Emma wouldn’t nose around his head & figure out why she’s suddenly so trusting around him), it was going to suck hard.

Her death is a textbook WiR example, but I’m glad to hear other people who were actually happy to see her go, too.

I think you’re a little too lenient in some of those decisions.

I don’t use WiR specifically to refer to all of those, but the basic vibe of “Powerful Female…KILL HER/DEPOWER HER/MAKE HER EVIL/KILL HER WITH RADIOACTIVE SPERM” running though comicdom lately is really pissing me off.

The thing is, even if WiR is simply and artifact of comics being overwhelmingly dominated by male characters, well, that’s a big part of the point to begin with.

Leaving aside that the whole “in Refrigerators” part is meant to indicate that women are often brutally and _personally_ assaulted or disposed of to get a bigger reaction out of the hero in question–Rayner’s girlfriend and Sue Dibny are the best examples, a random decapitating head punch, not so much.

If you’re a chick and you like your underwear pervert stories, sooner or later you’re going to notice that you better not get attached to a female character (Wonder Woman is maybe the only safe one) because she might as well be wearing a red shirt on Star Trek. And that, kind of ruins the whole power fantasy foundation upon which the genre is built.

IMO, Blue Beetle is the best example of the similar kind of thing happening to a male character, and people sure did raise a stink about that. And rightly so–it was cheap, dumb, and didn’t generate decent dividends.

My wife happened to like Identity Crisis. She thought the death of Sue was a great motivating factor for the book. She also thought that the death of Robin’s dad was powerful also. I think that if done right, the violence as a plot device factor isn’t even considered by most readers.

I don’t use WiR specifically to refer to all of those, but the basic vibe of “Powerful Female…KILL HER/DEPOWER HER/MAKE HER EVIL/KILL HER WITH RADIOACTIVE SPERM” running though comicdom lately is really pissing me off.

But that sort of thing happens to every comic character sooner or later – male or female.

If may be more common with female characters (or not – I’m not aware of any good stats on this) but if that is the case then it’s damn near impossible to tell whether any given case is one that would have happened if it wasn’t more common with female characters.

Well there is also the fact that Baby wildebeest had a hole punched through his chest and Red Star did get blasted, (Though it was shown he survived being blasted in Teen Titans), to back up that last statement.

Except this was after Pantha was killed right in front of them, eliciting the response for RS and BW to vow vengeance and recklessly bumrush a panicking SBP.

And Red Star did survive, with a fresh new layer of character development, so I don’t know how that one disproves things.

I don’t see how creating a woman to die just so the man can get REAL MAD is any better than killing an already-existing woman just so the man can get REAL MAD.

Because presumably the woman who was created to be a plot point wouldn’t exist if not for the plot necessity, whereas the other character already had an independent existence.

It’s like, Martha Wayne and Lara Lor-Van and Mary Parker and a dozen other female characters were created in order to die and provide the character with some sort of plot-necessitated motivation. It’s not like they existed prior to the stories which necessitated their deaths, and I can’t imagine anyone getting worked up over the fact that Martha Wayne had to die so Bruce could get REAL MAD.

Between the super-slow build-up to what’s bound to be not very interesting (pheromone fight! woo!)

We had a different term for pheromone fights in grade school. It rhymed with “bart bombrest!”

Sorry.

Except this was after Pantha was killed right in front of them, eliciting the response for RS and BW to vow vengeance and recklessly bumrush a panicking SBP.

And Red Star did survive, with a fresh new layer of character development, so I don’t know how that one disproves things.

Well it’s not considered WiR, by Brian’s definition, because it wasn’t just the death of Pantha that caused the new layer of character development in Red Star. The guy saw his whole “family” slaughtered, not just Pantha.

Something everyone in the thread had appeared to have forgotten in the focus on Pantha’s death. Heck everyone was talking about Baby Wildebeest as if it was still alive, as evidenced by Brian’s remarks.

Well it’s not considered WiR, by Brian’s definition, because it wasn’t just the death of Pantha that caused the new layer of character development in Red Star. The guy saw his whole “family” slaughtered, not just Pantha.

But what’s important to note is that, unlike BW, Pantha had a whole open storyline about her unresolved origin. And that was junked so she could be shoved into the maternal figure of that lost family, lumped in with Red Star’s “stuff” that got f’d up by Superboy Prime. It kinda is a stereotype to lump the mother and child together, and a cliche to have the patriarch burning with vengeance over their deaths.

And I think it’s still important to note BW was with Red Star in attacking, spurred by seeing Pantha die. It was Pantha’s death that was used as the big turning point for SBP and IC, which is why BW isn’t mentioned much. BW’s death is still a lousy, bothersome, stupid one, though.

I suppose I approach deaths like Isis and Batwoman’s with more metatextual cynicism. Since the “Someone’s gonna die before the year is out” conceit was talked up so heavily, I figured that even the most popular characters created for 52 could end up being canon fodder for the endgame, *regardless* of sex. Deaths of characters like Jade or Spoiler, however, hit all the nasty notes, and it doesn’t help matters that Gail Simone has pretty much come out and said that Spoiler’s been shoved in the fridge. http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showpost.php?p=3132909&postcount=122

More to the point, was Spoiler ever OUT of the fridge? I’ve long thought of her as the WiR postergirl, even before she was written out. So much so, in fact, that AS a fan of Spoiler, I was glad to see her die, just so nothing else bad could happen to her. A mercy WiRing…

Eric Grant said:

“The thing is, even if WiR is simply an artifact of comics being overwhelmingly dominated by male characters, well, that’s a big part of the point to begin with.”

And I just wanted to QFT that, because that’s a major part of what I’m trying to say–when I made my point above, I intended it only as a clarification of what I thought the issue was in terms of sexism in comics, not to defend it as not being sexist. This is not a “Hey, guys suffer and die too!” lament, this is just me being a pedant.

@Post 06: Looker? I can think of a lot of criminal comic blunders, but the death of Looker just doesn’t make that list. The death of Ted Kord right when they had finally made him interesting? Now that’s a crime. I suppose they sort of had to make him interesting in order for his death to have any impact at all, but still.

@08: No, just Hal Jordan.

@09: But it didn’t have to be a female character. They could have killed off any character in that scene, and the rest of the Titans, with their famous Togetherness, would have been incensed. The death of Duela Dent, on the other hand, has a lot more WiR to it. Of course, I prefer to think of it as a case of “Pointless Characters With Convoluted Continuity And Not Much Reason to Exist In This Day And Age Who Also Happen to Be Women in Refrigerators.”

@13: No, The Initiative, like everything else related to Civil War except the Captain America tie-ins, was the anti-good.

@16: From now on, all comics must be reviewed by an impartial regulatory commission, which will determine cases of WiR. If this occurs, Ambush Bug must jump out from off-panel at the time of the death, and scream “FRIDGED!”

@22: Unethical psychiatrists? I’m shocked at the suggestion that such things could exist. All sarcasm aside, I think we need look no further than the modern Hugo Strange (as reintroduced in Legends of the Dark Knight) and the origin of Harley Quinn, to see that there is certainly a precedent for unethical psychiatry in comics.

@23: I think that bit of information actually supports the original claim that Pantha’s death is not WiR. Because the emphasis is NOT supposed to be on who died, but rather what SBP did, this further suggests that not only did it not have to be Pantha, it didn’t even have to be a woman at all. It just had to be a Titan. I think in the original script draft he actually had it being someone completely different who ended up like not even being in the scene.

@24: E2 Lois Lane comes close, but I personally find that it was a development well supported by the story, and not just a shock tactic. I may be extrapolating the definition of WiR, but still. It’s not like E2 Supes snapped because of that and that alone. He was going wrong long before that.

@30: Which is surely a symptom of a larger trend in comics to have nonplanet protagonists, rather than planet protagonists. We’re seeing such hostility toward planets in comics right now, it’s a wonder that the National Organization of Planets hasn’t been more vocal. It’s a shame, really.

@31: OK, not a reversed WiR, but another example of a character being killed off to elicit a drastic change in another character: David Knight’s death in Starman 00.

@33: I believe we were talking about comics, but apparently I was wrong.

@36: Yeah, Hawkman’s around. PeeGee was gettin’ randy with him over on Rannagar, or Thann, or whatever it is now, during the 52 year. We just found out about that in The Lightning Saga, I think it was. Speaking of which, Hawkman was also present for the Lightning Saga, wasn’t he? And he’s been stealing the spotlight from Hawkgirl in her own title for a few issues now. Not that stealing the spotlight from Hawkgirl would be hard, because that dude just can’t write Hawkgirl. He just can’t. He can write Hawkman. But he can’t write Hawkgirl.

“the fact remains that with those deaths, there are less female characters around now.”–Dude, after Infinite Crisis and Civil War, there are just plain less characters around. Period. More books, maybe, but less characters. Technocrat is just as dead as Looker. And didn’t Airwave die? Too bad about Airwave. I liked Airwave. I mean, here was a guy who REALLY never got a chance to shine.

“Pantha COULD have been Bouncing Boy OR The Thing OR been Optimus Prime.”–Not really. The Thing is a Marvel character, and Optimus Prime is a Stupid character.

“Isis is the same thing. You can conjecture that Isis COULD have been a purple meteor instead of a beautiful arab woman. The fact is, she is a she, and she was created to add more femicide to the DCU.”–Given that Osiris died first, I don’t see how your math is working. These days, it’s just pretty dangerous to be alive in the DC and Marvel Universes.

“Anyway, since the beginning of it, the closest thing I ever saw to a point of WiR when it was made almost (but not quite yet) a decade ago was that there were a lot of female characters who had been raped/depowered/maimed/killed and that the effect of this was to have less female characters with which women could identify.”–The term was coined in reference to the death of a one-dimensional, plastic, throwaway background character that got killed and stuffed in a fridge. Any woman who identified with Alex was either missing the point of a superhero comic book, or had only been alive for three or four months.

@49: Was anyone really waiting with baited breath for the big reveal about Pantha’s origin?

@51: I’d say the poster girl for Women in Refrigerators is the one that actually got shoved in a refrigerator.

The way I see it, the real insult about WiR is this:

Is the dead character a woman because it is expected that the death of a woman will evoke a stronger emotional reaction out of the reader than a male character’s death would?

Example:
As loathe as I am to suggest re-reading War Games, I have to say that I think that the point wasn’t to kill Spoiler. I suspect that the point was to kill Robin. And, I suspect that editors said, “no” so Tim was written out of the suit, someone else was put in, and that someone else was killed.

Tim left the suit for dubious reasons, Spoiler took over, and as soon as she was dead, Tim put it back on again. It was a one-storyline replacement. I believe that Spoiler was chosen to die based solely on the fact that she was a Chuck Dixon character, and apparantly every time a CD created Bat character dies an angel gets his wings or somesuch. (Granted, I think that everything after her death has been as mis-managed as the storytelling of War Games was, but I’m not talking about story quality.)

Let’s look at Pantha. Here is a female character who is established, has little to nothing to do with the overall plot of SBP, and dies to demonstrate a change in SBP’s personality.

But, isn’t it also a bit of: “here is a woman in a man’s fight. If she hadn’t been trying to play hero, maybe she wouldn’t have died” involved? Despite how strong and capable the character is, wouldn’t killing Red Star have been more of a “He knew the job was dangerous when he took it” blasse? I think that it was probably deemed necessary that SBP’s turning-point murder be not only a hero, not only a Titan, but probably also a woman, to demonstrate how evil he was that he would not only kill a hero, not only kill a Titan, but would stoop so low as to kill a woman.

I guess I have a question. Is WiR a list of women disrespected by comics, or is it a list of women demeaned by comics? There is a difference. I think that Spoiler was, and is disrespected. But, Pantha was demeaned.

Theno

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