This summer, She-Hulk and Rogue enter a strange new Marvel universe: the shelves of romance. With two new novels from Hyperion hitting stores today, Marvel strives to placate longtime comic veterans and appeal to a whole new audience. The She-Hulk Diaries and Rogue Touch accomplish both as two entertaining stories that easily fit the bill of summer beach reads.
The She-Hulk Diaries, written by Marta Acosta, is narrated by Jennifer Walters as she navigates through life after She-Hulk has gotten kicked out of the Avengers Mansion. Jen is determined to get things back on track.
The She-Hulk Diaries places an emphasis on the dual nature of Jen’s identities; I never considered Jen as completely separate from She-Hulk until the novel pulled the interesting move of switching to third-person for Shulkie’s exploits.
For those who have followed Jen through the years, the novel does mention events from her comic book endeavors, such as her work at Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg, and Holliway and her relationship with Tony Stark, giving comic book fans a sense that they’re still in the Marvel universe.
The She-Hulk Diaries focuses heavily on Jen’s love life rather than She-Hulk’s superheroics, but as She-Hulk has been known for her flings in the comics, it doesn’t seem completely out of character. However, Jen’s diary is rife with “OMG!” and other ridiculous acronyms that seem a little odd for a high-powered attorney, but that’s a minor complaint for a fun read.
Christine Woodward’s Rogue Touch sets a darker tone than The She-Hulk Diaries from the get-go. Twenty-year-old Anna Marie is on the run. As the novel opens, she’s alone, hungry, and unable to hold a job, trying to survive without hurting anyone with a simple brush of her skin.
One night she crosses paths with the enigmatic James, who seems to hide a secret as deep as her own, and he takes her on her first adventure. Together the two flee cross-country and find themselves irresistibly attracted to one another.
While every reader has their own take on a character, for me, Rogue in the novel evoked Anna Paquin of the first X-Men film rather than the Rogue of the comic books. Rogue Touch creates a new past for Anna Marie, who in this version was raised by a bitter aunt after her parents disappeared. Anna Marie is given a likable Southern personality—she even rocks out to Carrie Underwood—and her point of view conveys just how terrible it would be to never be able to touch another person again.
Much of the attention on the prose versions of these Marvel superheroes is spent on romance rather than heroics. The She-Hulk Diaries and Rogue Touch are admirable efforts to reach out to a new audience for Marvel, and I hope they succeed in drawing in new comic book readers. Even existing fans might find something that piques their interest—I found myself looking through the She-Hulk issues on ComiXology to catch up on what Jennifer Walters is up to now.
If romance is one of your guilty (or not-so-guilty) pleasures and you love the Avengers and the X-Men, pick up The She-Hulk Diaries and Rogue Touch today.
Promotional copies of the novels were provided for review purposes.