Never give up your voice for a man, you fucking guppy!”
I don’t know how I missed melanir’s review of The Refrigerator Monologues last year. It ticks a lot of my boxes
- comic books
I read melanir’s review before writing my own and there were many nods of agreement.
The Refrigerator Monologues is a series of short stories told in the first person by the dead and sidelined women from comic books. The stories are loosely tied together by Paige Embry, the first dead woman and our guide to the Hell Hath Club. Paige is the girl friend in the hero’s origin story who made him who he is and then died during his fight with the super villain.
Paige Embry died watching her boyfriend save New York City. When the lights went out in Manhattan, they went out in her eyes, too.
Valente isn’t making an effort to disguise the characters on whom her characters are based.
- Gwen Stacey
- Jean Grey
- Harley Quinn
- Karen Page
- Alexandra DeWitt (who was actually left in a refrigerator)
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 legend.”
Each woman tells her own story. None of them want to be the food that fuels the superhero, or villain, or sidelined because they were too strong. They want to be the protagonist of their own narrative. They want to be all that they are. They talk about loving, fucking, hating, and wanting. They have lives before and separate from the men for whom they have become a plot point. Some of them are bitter, some are resigned, and some are plotting their return.
I loved Karis Campell’s narration. She brought something different to each of the women, from Paige’s breazy everywoman, to Pauline’s alteregos, to Bayou’s Atlantean scorn. You don’t have to know the source characters or the comics to enjoy these monologues. I know nothing about Mera, but that didn’t stop Blue Bayou from being my favorite. I do hope Valente comes back to this. Melanir points out in her review that Valente is pointing out the problem, but not seizing the narrative. I would love to see how she moves these women from the perifery to the center of the action.
May is Short Story month. If you are looking for a way to celebrate, I highly recommend reading this one.