Thoughts on Children in the Refrigerator Syndrome

This post is in response to a recent death, one of a lovable child who is now the hotbed topic for comic book fans:

Lian Harper, daughter of Arsenal (Roy Harper, the first Speedy). A little bit of background info: Lian's about ten or so, has had an actual relationship with her heroic dad and a rocky one with her villainous mother, and was left alone.

Fans have been outraged by her death on several points:

1) DC has been milking her death, having her dad relive it. The comic in the link I posted above was criticized for showing a kid suffering, even though I didn't find it that bad. That said, I loved Lian and she would've been a great crimefighter when she got older.

2) Her death wasn't written well- In stories, death has a fine line because not referring to it when people are in dangerous situations is akin to giving the protagonists immunity from anyone; on the other hand, too many people dying in a comic will lead to a cheapening. Watchmen had a lot of massacre, but no one criticizes it because Moore wrote the story with his own characters and made their deaths have meaning. One poster mentioned this:

"DC chose Lian precisely because she had a clear fanbase and was an innocent without considering WHY she had a fanbase and whether or not her death would mean anything other than another excuse for a long-established character to mope over whether or not murder is ever justified. "

3) She is one of the many superhero children who don't make it past childhood if they are acknowledged at all- Donna Troy, the former Wonder Girl, lost her son Robert and stepson due to a vengeful villain. Catwoman's daughter was given up for adoption, while apparently Black Canary's baby has fallen out of continuity.

4) Lazarus Pit- It brings people back from the dead, as long as you have a body. And one was recently used to resurrect Batwoman, so it's not like they have ceased to exist in DC continuity.

In other words, Lian was killed to get a reaction, nothing else, and the editors didn't even have the grace to make her the only superhero child to actually die. Gail Simone labels this editorial decision as "Woman in the Refrigerator" syndrome, used to refer to superhero's girlfriends who would get killed (like Stephanie Brown) or maimed for the purpose of angering male characters. Given that Jason Todd (Robin II) and Lian were killed to get a reaction, we should include sidekicks and children.

With the refrigerator full, we now have to consider what name to give it. Or, we could call it the Reaction in the Refrigerator syndrome, where something is put into the Refrigerator of Doom (shown on the left, not my picture) and left inside to stir up a reaction.

The thing will have to have the consistency of chocolate, since chocolate will harden in the fridge and become brittle, much like the characters put in there.

So we can call this syndrome the Chocolate Reaction in the Refrigerator, where a character killed will harden the readers' hearts to buying comics, and have them switch to the Internet.

The chocolate also explains the temptation of why writers go for CRR and irk the readers who want the real quality chocolate, and will lead to writers en flambes as the French say.

Moral of the story: eat a healthy dinner of good character development before heading for the fridge, because you never know what's lurking in it . . .

Post a Comment