In 1994, the Green Lantern found his dead girlfriend stuffed in a refrigerator.
(Kitchen appliance reference: Women in Refrigerators. If you need this frozen phenomenon explained, go read the original)
Countless D-list (and sometimes alphabetically stronger) female characters have been unceremoniously offed in order to make a male hero angry, give him something to fight against, frame his life around the tragedy of the loss of his frozen girlfriend/sister/neighbor/maid/acquaintance and grow as a man and hero. Even on the pages of a modern comic book, it still happens. A recent example that comes to mind is the death of Mattie Franklin in The Amazing Spider-Man's "Grim Hunt" storyline. (Though her death was anything but unceremonious. There was ceremony. One might say it was downright ritualistic!) Her death was ugly and violent. The probability of her resurrection is small since we still have a few Spider-Women to spare. Most importantly though, it inspired Spider-Man to go do hero stuff.
This week in one of Marvel's "Women of Marvel" one-shots, a hotel employee named Valerie goes out a window and falls to her death. A super-powered villain and attempted sexual assault are to blame. Here's where it gets different, though. While a paramedic does try some heroics, the death woman wakes up and remembers that she's Valkyrie. The bad guy summarily takes a beating and she goes on to become a hero once again. It has all of the classic signs of the "women in refrigerators" syndrome, except that it's the woman waking up and doing the hero things instead of a male hero. Huh.
Bravo, Marvel, for giving us a fun twist on a tired trope.
So I ask, does it still count as getting stuffed in a refrigerator if a character is killed as an impetus to her own personal growth and development? And can she tell us once and for all whether or not the light stayed on while she was in there?
Stay tuned. Inquiring minds want to know.