christine woodward

She-Hulk and Rogue star in the first two books from a Hyperion/Marvel partnership to be released in June.

They’re known for living hard and punching harder in comic books, and now Marvel Comics’ superheroines are bringing their power to prose.

She-Hulk and Rogue are the stars of two novels arriving in June that are part of a new partnership between Hyperion Books and Marvel Entertainment to publish prose tomes featuring Marvel’s biggest female heroes. (Both publishing houses are owned by the Walt Disney Co.)

Christine Woodward's Rogue Touch features another superwoman with dating issues. One of the more popular X-Men over the years, Rogue has the ability to steal powers from whoever she touches — but that also means her kiss can be accidentally fatal. After putting a boyfriend in a coma, she hits the road and meets the enigmatic James, and together they go on a trip to escape his dangerous family and for her to come to terms with her own life.

The books also give Marvel a chance to get their heroines in the hands of an untapped fan base of adult readers seeking compelling and complex storytelling, according to Ruwan Jayatilleke, associate publisher/senior vice president for Marvel Entertainment.

“The X-Men have long been a popular superhero team for decades, and part of that success story has been the appeal of Rogue, who resonates with our male and female comic-book fans,” he says.

In having books that turn familiar genres with conventional expectations on their head, Dyssegaard says they definitely want women readers but also comic fans, too.

“The X-Men franchise is very popular with both men and women, so choosing a character like Rogue plays to that existing female fan base while also attracting new readers,” she says. “I picture a woman and her comic-book fan guy on the couch reading together.”

“An old man spoke to his grandson. “My child,” he said. “Inside everyone there is a battle between two wolves. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, inferiority, lies, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.” The boy thought for a moment. Then he asked, “Which wolf wins?” A moment of silence passed before the old man replied. And then he said, “The one you feed.” - Native American Folk Tale”  
   

Puzzle-Dragon’s Reading Lair: Book 7

Title: Rogue Touch

Author: Christine Woodward

Number of Pages: 273

Okay, I’m going to do something different for this particular book. Instead of just sharing my favorite quote, I’m going to write a review of it. Or, maybe more of an essay.

Minor Spoilers Ahead!

I have very mixed feelings about this book.

First of all, Rogue is my favorite member of the X-Men team, any X-Men team. She’s a very interesting character with epic yet tragic powers, and I guess I relate to her in some ways. When she’s written well, she’s amazing. (And yes, I have read Rogue comics written by different writers. I only chose the particular comics shown in the picture because the color scheme looked good with the book cover.)

So, for those of you who don’t know, Rogue Touch was released on the same day as The She-Hulk Diaries by Marta Acosta. Each novel focuses on one of Marvel Comics popular female characters. And they both seem to have a bit of a romance novel feel to them. They’re not cheap Harlequin novels by any means, but there’s definitely a focus on romance.

The fact that both of these books exist at all says a lot to me. It says that Marvel is acknowledging it’s female audience and trying to make content that it believes this audience will enjoy. (That’s more than DC does most of the time.) These books really break away from the “COMIC BOOKZ ARE ONLY FOR BOYZ” philosophy that seems to be everywhere. Yes, there’s action and adventure and (at least in Rogue Touch) some sci-fi and mystery elements. But the focus is mainly on the characters, as well as there relationships and emotions.

And that’s really refreshing for a superhero story.

But the problem is… To be honest, after a while, Rogue stopped feeling like Rogue.

To me, Rogue is supposed to be a strong, independent character. She’s a naturally cautious person. (Her powers don’t exactly leave room for carelessness.) And she is always a little bit self-conscious. She wants love, the ability to touch other people without fear, the ability to connect. She wants what other people give and take so freely. But she never acts stupid about it. Occasionally she feels bad for herself and reflects on her past, but in general, she’s supposed to be confident and powerful.

And for the first few chapters, she is. She’s supporting herself after running away. She almost tackles a guy for cheating the food stamp system. She keeps herself together and is confident in who she is even though her recently acquired powers confuse and scare her.

And then along comes Touch.

(Well, at first we know him only as James, but whatever.)

He’s this strangely beautiful man. He dresses like her, wearing layers and layers of long sleeved clothing even though it’s the middle of summer. He knows her name before she tells him. He’s mysterious and intriguing.

But he also followed her around like a creeper for a while before randomly offering her a ride at the exact moment she needed it to escape town. He’s several years older than her. He doesn’t seem to know anything about, well… Earth. And there’s a scene early on where he appears disappointed that Rogue changes clothes before he can get a good look at her wearing only her underwear and a tank top.

All of that’s gotta set off some red flags, right?

But no, Rogue freely goes with him. She’s cautious and careful (as she should be!) but she still goes with him without really questioning it. She quickly sets some boundaries and later asks some questions and eventually they both find out more about each other, but it still all feels strange.

I know some of you out there are saying, “But Rogue is young. She’s foolish. She’s only eighteen. She hasn’t even had her powers for a year when the book starts! How do you expect her to be strong and sensible when there are hot boys and adventure involved?”

Well, let me refer you to X-Men Evolution. (Pretty much my favorite X-Men cartoon ever.)

In this show Rogue is young, even younger than she is in Rogue Touch. In Evolution she’s still in high school and is at least a year younger than both Scott Summers and Jean Grey. She’s still strong and confident on the show even though she’s young, so don’t go pulling the age card to defend the book.

But then you say, “Well, she had more time to master her powers, so of course she’s more confident in that show!”

No, actually that’s not true. When Rogue first appears, she has no powers. Her powers manifest during her first episode and, well, she freaks out. But after a few episodes, she’s back to being generally herself. She’s still a bit scared of her powers, but she’s strong, independent, and doesn’t rely on everyone else to get things done. So, don’t try and tell me her powers are new so she doesn’t know what she’s doing in the book.

But then you cry, “LOVE! She was in love with Touch, and people do crazy things when they’re in love.”

Again, in Evolution, Rogue was head over heels for Scott Summers for a while. And ya know what? He didn’t feel the same way. He liked Jean. But Rogue didn’t know that for a while. So, she fell in love with Scott. But she never pressed it. She never followed him blindly or relied on him to fix every problem the team encountered. She was still her own character, so don’t try to tell me that “love” can explain away why Rogue makes some stupid choices when it comes to Touch.

Perhaps I’m pretty bias against Touch because I love the pairing of Rogue and Gambit. I don’t really like seeing her with other guys. (It’s not just Touch, I can’t stand her being with Magneto either.)

But I do enjoy themes of love and relationships being explored through Rogue’s character. Because when she’s in love, it’s not simple. When she’s with someone, she can’t kiss him or hold his hand or hug him. And - the one thing that seems to be mentioned most often in Rogue Touch - she can’t have sex.

Sometimes, this whole dynamic of “nonphysical love" is explored in a very interesting way with Rogue. In most continuities it’s used to reinforce the fact that Gambit loves her enough to stay and be with her even though they can’t have a physical relationship, even though they can’t have what other couples have. But in Rogue Touch, it seems to be this impossible goal that Rogue keeps reaching toward throughout the entire novel as well as being a sort of plot device to continually push the question, "How physical can Rogue and Touch get without ever having their skin touch?”

So, as I said, I have mixed feelings about this book and the author’s characterization of Rogue. I have a few other small problems with this book, but I won’t go into those. If you’re a fan of Rogue, I suggest reading the book and forming an opinion for yourself. I’m just one reader, after all.

In the end, I’m glad I read this book. I’m glad I supported the idea that girls can enjoy super heroes and maybe helped in the effort to prove to Marvel (*cough-andDC-cough*) that if they write about female characters, we will read about them and enjoy reading about them.

If you have any suggestions for what I should read next, feel free to share them with me through my ask box. :)