Paige Monroe: Face Value
by Scott Summers
The worst part of crime-fighting in Gotham has to be the wisecracks: Mr. Freeze’s icy puns, Two-Face’s double entendres, and the Penguin’s feathery repertoire, as fresh as guano. Change the record, already! By comparison Paige Monroe, the erstwhile Calendar Girl, is a breath of fresh air—a villain with a new costume, new weapons and new shtick every couple of months. Red, white and blue for the 4th of July, exploding eggs for Easter, and deadly candy corn for Halloween? One wonders if on Purim she’ll be threatening the caped crusader with exploding hamantashen.
But the desperation with which our unwrinkled Paige covers her face and changes her image draws out pity, not laughs. It signals a powerful self-disgust, burning through that blank white mask like a projector bulb through old celluloid. Even her kidnap victims must see how poorly those bright costumes and flashy gadgets, all with shelf-lives shorter than last year’s Top Model, are working to drown out the harsh editorial voice of her inner W magazine.
In grand old Freudian fashion, depression equals anger turned inward, and Paige Monroe turns her sad self-contempt right back out again with a vengeance. Tamper with her secrecy at the peril of your life, as one of her hench-dancers learns in early autumn. When the Day of the Dead comes around, Monroe’s Johnny Cash impression is sounding a poignant dirge for her dead younger self. “I was gorgeous once. I had everything,” Monroe whines. She’s still gorgeous, but in mirrors she sees a hideous old hag—a near-psychotic warping of reality. For this, the hallmark of body dysmorphic disorder, we can’t blame her alone; in Gotham as in the rest of America, young women are praised more often for their looks than for their brains, hard work, or other talents. No doubt Patrolwoman Renee Montoya would agree.
As for Calendar Girl, she belongs in Arkham, perhaps confronting her body-image problems in group therapy with Baby Doll and Clayface—or even in couples treatment with the Clock King, ticking off commonalities in their dual obsessions with the passage of time.
DSM-IV-TR Diagnosis: Body Dysmorphic Disorder