Earlier this month, Marvel Entertainment and Hyperion Entertainment announced plans to publish a series of novels exploring the love lives of popular female comic books characters. The first two, The She-Hulk Diaries and Rogue Touch, are based around the exploits of She-Hulk and X-Men member Rogue.
This certainly doesn’t come as much of a surprise. If the last few years have proven anything to fandom, it’s that anything from pop culture can be sexed up. We’ve had sparkly vampires, MTV werewolves, and zomcoms featuring a young Hank McCoy. If you can find a way to mate a franchise with Sex and the City, it’s pretty much guaranteed to make a bundle.
Hyperion’s Editor-in-Chief Elisabeth Dyssegaard has said of the project, “Marvel has had a tremendous success with recent hit movies and we think it’s a great time to explore what happens when they are dropped into traditional women’s novels.” Call me a cynic, but by these synopses they don’t sound exactly like Pride and Prejudice.
She-Hulk, Marvel’s much-beloved comic book heroine who shares her cousin Bruce Banner’s ability to transform into a hero of incredible power, comes to life in a page-turning novel. In The She-Hulk Diaries, Jennifer Walters, aka She Hulk, juggles climbing the corporate ladder by day and battling villains and saving the world by night—all while trying to navigate the dating world to find a Mr. Right who might not mind a sometimes-very big and green girlfriend.
The second novel, Rogue Touch, features one of the most popular X-Men characters, Rogue, a young woman trying to navigate the challenges of everyday life and romance—except that her touch is deadly. After accidentally putting her first boyfriend in a coma, she runs away from home where, she meets the handsome and otherworldly James and sparks fly. Like Rogue, however, James’ life is hardly simple. To elude his mysterious and dangerous family, James shaves his head, dons all black. Stealing a car, they head out on the highway and eventually, Rogue has to decide whether she will unleash her devastating powers in order to save the only man alive who seems to truly understand her.
Marta Costa, author of The She-Hulk Diaries, has previously written The Casa Dracula series, described by Publisher’s Weekly as “an addictive combo plate of romance and vamp satire”, suggesting a degree of bite, at least, Stephanie Meyer’s brethren do not possess. No information seems to be immediately available on Christine Woodward, author of Rogue Touch, though it seems likely that she too may come from a Young Adult background.
To give the idea its due, if Spider-Man can be seen as an exploration of teenage angst, then maybe this is just the next logical step: making the real world subtext explicit. What impact this will have on the superhero element remains unclear. Will the chick lit style overwhelm the superhero element?
Costa’s website quotes Eisner Award winning comic book writer Peter David as saying that “SHE-HULK DIARIES” [sic] is an absolute delight. Those who are unfamiliar with Bruce Banner’s wayward cousin are in for a treat as they read about Jennifer Walters and her first hand dilemmas trying to navigate her new attorney’s job, an old flame, and the ongoing festivities/adventures/partying life of her gamma-irradiated female Hulk side. Whether you like She-Hulk straight up, comedic, or a combination of both, SHE-HULK DIARIES is the She-Hulk endeavor for you.”
This seems to be 7/10 Single Female Lawyer to 3/10 Hulk-related partying, which seems like a reasonable compromise for what it is. The Rogue book, meanwhile, seems to be more in the vein of Twilight: a young isolated heroine who falls in love with a mysterious stranger. In any case, both books are due out in June, and we may see more depending on their popularity.
Who knows, maybe we’ll even see Fifty Shades Starker: