Posts Tagged ‘Hyperion’

Marvel's Rogue TouchI’ve already mentioned in my She-Hulk Diaries review that B&N shipped both books early, but from different warehouses, so I got She-Hulk Diaries before Rogue Touch. I thought this was a good thing as I was sure I’d like She-Hulk better because I didn’t know the character well enough to get upset. It turns out, Rogue Touch is actually the better book, though mostly because it doesn’t insult my intelligence or gender. Not to say Rogue Touch a great book by any means, but at least it didn’t entice me to throw it across the room.

It was basically a serviceable Alt-Universe Fan Fiction written by someone who watched X-Men and skimmed Rogue’s wiki page.

How can I say that? Well, Rogue Touch, mild spoilers by the way, isn’t a book about mutants, heck, it’s barely about one mutant. There is hardly any mention of mutants, and what is mentioned doesn’t track with what you’d expect, i.e. X-Men, Xavier’s, etc. There isn’t a single Marvel Universe related anything in this book. Rogue Touch actually tries to be more of a hard-core sci-fi book with a typical sci-fi theme which isn’t mutant related, at all.

At one point I started to kinda enjoy the book in that ‘turn your brain off, popcorn flick’ kind of way that you do when watching something brainless but entertaining, like Transformers. This was because the non-Marvel, non-mutant, story took over and it was easy to forget that this was a book about Rogue. Then there would be mention of Rogue’s inability to touch James, or James would have another Remy moment (I’ll get to that in a bit), and I’d be reminded. But it’s not as jarring as it sounds, it actually helped me to read it because I just kept thinking to myself that this was another Alt-U fan fic by someone who decided to muck about a bit (only I was obligated to finish it because I paid for it).

It really felt like Woodward was told to do a story about Rogue, then after watching X-Men and skimming her wiki page she decided to take another story she’d written, or wanted to write, and just plugged in Rogue and made it fit. One particular plot point felt like it was lifted straight from X-Men. Then there were casual mentions to things like the Far Banks, which came off to me as ‘name dropping’ seeing as it served no real purpose other than to explain why Rogue had no issues believing in aliens.

Not going to lie, alt-uni fan fics often lift and take pieces of established canon, but normally as a way of saying ‘this was pre-destined’ or in order to flip it on its head. There is always that connection to the source material. Here, not so much, especially as it bore little resemblance to the Marvel Universe.

Just Rogue by Djinn WorldAt least Woodward didn’t completely screw up Rogue. Woodward’s Rogue is a patchwork of the Rogue’s who have come before, comic!Rogue, Evo!Rogue, movie!Rogue. The best way I could describe it is Woodward ‘colored within the lines’ of Rogue’s character, unfortunately it wasn’t all that great of a picture she drew in the first place. I sometimes wished Woodward would have just picked one variation of Rogue and stuck with it, or used the core of Rogue to reimagine her again.

But the core was mostly there, Rogue wasn’t reduced to a crying or useless wimp, instead taking it upon herself at one point to beat off thugs with their own baseball bat. She wasn’t totally emo or whining all the time or always needed to be saved. Rogue was a strong girl who only broke down once it was legitimate to do so, but then picked up and moved right on.

Still, occasional there would be an errant comment that would make my eye twitch, such as Rogue saying she always hated the heat and always wanted to go someplace cold. It completely goes against cannon but at least it’s legitimate for a Southerner to feel that way (hence why I think Woodward only skimmed Rogue’s bio). And sometimes I felt Rogue was relying a little too much on the memories of those she absorbed, like she didn’t know how to do a lot of things, or couldn’t figure them out, without help. Of course, this Rogue does not have the training other Rogue’s received under Mystique or the X-Men… but then what kind of country girl doesn’t know how to put up a tent?

And there was a distinct lack of sass… at least to the level we expect from Rogue.

Oh, and speaking of absorptions a second ago… I know Woodward watched X-Men because when Rogue absorbed Cody she got her white streak ala her absorbing Magneto in X-Men. Woodward messed up Rogue’s powers but nothing too crazy, except, you know, she absorbs a cave. Okay, so it might have been the spirit of a Native American who was attached to the cave but still… a cave.

anasazi cave drawingsAgain, because her mutant powers don’t really get brought up that much, and Rogue uses them a total of five times in the whole book, it’s easy to just ignore it ever happened or to brush it off as the fancy of a fan fic writer who is really trying to think out the box, only forgot where they put the box. I mean, it’s kinda a neat idea, spirits are energy too… but here it’s not really given the thought it deserves, like Woodward was simply oblivious to just how WTF that is considering all other canon Rogues.

But I’ll let it slide, because, to be honest, I had a bigger issue with James.

I wish I could say James magically turns out to be Gambit, but that would be a lie. I wish I could tell you he’s an interesting character in his own right but again, a lie. True, he’s an alien, sorta (and that’s in the first 50-ish pages so not really a spoiler), but he also looks exactly like Gambit.

“That’s what I decided to call him, El Creepo, even though by now I’d got close enough to see that he looked like a pretty sexy guy. I guessed he was only a few years older than me, with long, dark hair. It looked like he hadn’t shaved in a couple days. It was too dark out to tell for sure, but I had this feeling he had blue eyes – piercing blue. Not only that, he wore this long, black leather coat.”

And the similarities don’t stop there… he even has a family dynamic which is very similar to Remy’s, plus he’s apt to act and say things that Remy would. Now, I’m cool with Rogue’s little hook up with Magneto, so I wouldn’t have minded James as a love interest to Rogue as long as he was his own person… but to take this character which fit Woodward’s sci-fi theme and make him look and act like Gambit is insulting to all three characters. Rogue has a type, yes, she goes for the strong, passionate, reformed bad-boy types like Gambit and Magneto… but do they have anything in common other than reformed bad-boy with an affinity for the color purple-ish?

It’s natural to see some cross over as there are only so many options when fleshing out a character, but when you put it all together, a grape and a raisin are still technically the same thing. Couldn’t Woodward have picked another fruit?

Woodward proves she doesn’t have much of an imagination anyway, especially when it came to dealing with James not being able to touch Rogue’s skin. Any time there was any ‘touching’ it was so unromantically dull. You know the whole ‘using fabric to kiss each other’ trope? Yeah, instead of using something thin or at least somewhat romantic, Woodward has Rogue use a balaclava… really… a balaclava (which is one of those ski masks that bank robbers use because they cover most of the face). Picture that in your mind for a minute.

The Pro-Romy camp will be annoyed that this Gambit look-a-like is the love interest when Woodward could have just wrote a mutant story and used Gambit himself. The Anti-Romy camp will be annoyed that James is so much like Gambit he might as well be Gambit. Either way, no one is winning in the OTP department. I just started to picture James differently and that made it better, though for some reason I was seeing the guy from I Am Number Four… and don’t ask me why, it just seemed to fit.

Rogueeeerogue by Carlo Pagulayen

Woodward’s Rogue has a fondness for leather pants…

As for the rest of the romance, it tries to get a little smutty, but you know that feeling you get when you’re watching a tv-show on a premium cable channel and they have a sex scene just cause they can? That’s pretty much what it feels like in this book. Since Woodword couldn’t go full Rated R she went PG-13 half-heartedly. Or maybe she wanted to keep it PG and was told to add some spice, dunno. Maybe it was because I just couldn’t get into the relationship, there wasn’t any fire in the flame.

In fact, Woodward seemed to care more about the anti-pollution, pro-socialist message than the romance. Seriously, it was just way too obvious that this was a bit of a love note to the 99%.

Anyway, like I said, I detached myself from the story from time to time, reading it as a popcorn flick of a book. The kind you read, don’t really wish that time of your life back, but don’t care to reread either. The ending though felt really rushed and everything was over way too soon in a ‘that’s it?’ kind of way. But at least it left things open enough for you to write in a head cannon to make it work for you.

As far as Rogue Touch fits into the canon of Rogue stories, it really doesn’t deserve to be put much higher than fan fiction, even if it’s officially licensed. It doesn’t really bring anything new to the table except maybe the wonder of Rogue being able to absorb spirits. So as long as you can read it as a fan fic, instead of a pro fic, then it shouldn’t upset you too much unless you’re really sensitive about your Rogue or your Romy.

And I will say this about Rogue Touch… it’s better than X3… not that that’s saying much…

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The She-Hulk Diaries by Marta AcostaAs I mentioned, B&N is shipping Rogue Touch and The She-Hulk Diaries early. Apparently She-Hulk ships from Indiana and Rogue Touch from New Jersey, so I got She-Hulk first. In a way though, this works out, because I don’t really know that much about She-Hulk beyond what I’ve garnered through reading X-Men comics as I’m not much of a Hulk/Avengers reader. This means that, unlike Rogue, I won’t be bothered by all the ‘little things’ that butt up against established canon which could drive a fan crazy. This makes me a bit more impartial when reviewing She-Hulk Diaries.

Warning, there are some mild spoilers here but I won’t give away anything major.

First off, if you are a fan of She-Hulk, this book probably isn’t for you. If you are fan of the comics, this book likely isn’t for you either. This book is for the Twilight loving crowd who are less interested in strong action heroines and more interested in the shallow side of romance. If The She-Hulk Diaries sounds a lot like The Carrie Diaries ala Sex in the City then you’ve nailed it. Jennifer Walters spends most of the book fretting over her ex-boyfriend and all the hot guys she wants to sleep with rather than thinking about the case she is working or the mystery that needs solving.

Now, I don’t mind romance in my stories, in fact, I wish comics dealt with romance between characters a lot better with more depth and time spent, but I get annoyed when female characters are reduced to their sex lives. Superhero men have romances while saving the world, so why can’t the same be done with superhero women? Why is it that if a female superhero is given her own book it has to be written about sex and fashion instead of heroics? It’s like whoever okay’d the plot said “that’s what women like, right, Sex in the City and 50 Shades of Gray?” so that’s what was written, only PG-13-ish.

I want to be insulted that Hyperion/Marvel apparently don’t believe female readers could like female characters, or any character, purely because of said character’s full complexity which involves so much more than their love life. This book mentions She-Hulk’s time spent doing interplanetary law, going off planet, and other grandiose things as an Avenger, but instead of doing anything with that, we get ‘should I accept my co-worker’s offer for No-Strings-Attached sex?’. We also could have been given the gritty downside or heroism, such as recently highlighted in Iron Man 3 with Tony’s panic attacks and PTSD, but instead it’s all ‘my ex’s fiancé is such a bitch and totally not worthy of him’.

Like I said, I want to be insulted, but I have to face the facts that this book isn’t written for me, it’s written for that group of readers who eat this kind of stuff up. Marvel is marketing their characters to a whole other demographic. Instead of showing women that it’s okay to like and read She-Hulk, they are giving them She-Hulk in a form that Hyperion/Marvel believes is more pleasant for them. It’s almost like they are re-enforcing that gender divide of ‘guys read gritty action, girls read trashy romance’ but I don’t think it’s malicious on their end. They just want to make sure they aren’t missing any pockets to pick… so really it’s just greediness on their part.

To be fair though, there are comic book fans who also like Twilight. I know one and I’ll have to let her borrow the book and see what she thinks of it, who knows, she might consider it awesome. All I know is that if I want to read three hundred pages of a boarder-line Mary Sue day dreaming about her ex and what she’d like to do with him, I’d go read a fan fiction, at least it would be free and I could pick my OTP.

But here I go, bemoaning this book without actually telling you anything about it, which doesn’t really help you decide to trust me or not on whether this book is for you. So here are some more specific details, again, only mild spoilers.

She-HulkLet’s start with the fact that ‘She-Hulk Diaries’ is a misnomer. It should have been called The Jennifer Diaries as it’s told in first person from Jennifer’s perspective in that she’s the one writing the diary. One of the few things I knew about She-Hulk is that right now in the comics she and Jennifer are the same person. Jennifer embraced her Hulk side and is always ‘hulked-out’ even when she’s doing her daily lawyer stuff. In this book, Jennifer is the quintessential nerdy librarian who is annoyed with She-Hulk who is this party animal that got them evicted from the Avengers Mansion for setting the furniture on fire. She keeps She-Hulk on a leash and is frustrated with her to no end calling her ‘the crazy sister’ that she loves but is stuck with no matter what.

I thought to myself, “Okay, this is like an origin story, we’ll see Jennifer come to accept this side of herself in an emotionally gratifying sub-plot.” They do touch on it here and there, but instead of an emotional and over-arching character study, it’s more like a swan dive off the ‘crap-gotta-shore-up-this-plot-point’ diving board. This was as wonderful chance to really go introspective and thoughtful, to use She-Hulk as an analogue for accepting yourself and all your quirks… and it’s pushed aside so Jennifer could swoon over song lyrics she inspired and get hot and bothered when sexy guys are around.

And this really isn’t the worst of it. Jennifer’s history with her mother being shot, her almost getting killed herself, and her cousin Bruce giving her Hulk powers, is barely skimmed. Seriously, this is Grade-A character development stuff and it’s just casually mentioned as if it’s a non-issue. I mean, why wasn’t the book about that? It’s what we get in superhero movies, whether we want it or not (how many origin story movies have Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man had?). I can kinda understand not wanting to ‘rehash’ origin stories, but if you want to introduce She-Hulk to a whole new audience of readers then completely skipping the whole reason she is She-Hulk pretty much defeats the point. And to just ignore stuff like her mother’s death so Jennifer can talk about “Dr Stunning” is downright disgraceful.

Which all brings me back to my earlier point, if this book is made to introduce new readers to She-Hulk then why does it assume you already know her back story in detail? I mean, if you’re going after the fans of She-Hulk who also like Twilight then that’s not a very large demographic. This just proves to me that She-Hulk is an afterthought in the book, a book which is actually just a typical romance novel with a few She-Hulk things thrown in to justify the licensing.

And it’s not even a very good romance novel. There’s not even any angst. Everyone thinks Jennifer is just so gorgeous and datable while she thinks she’s awkward and in She-Hulk’s shadow. All the ‘romance moments’ are simple, predictable, groan worthy (not in a good way), or tropey, such as running into the ex looking disheveled like she just had sex with the guy standing next to her. (Okay, who the heck shows a guy Krav Maga maneuvers while wearing a slinky dress in the middle of a Valentine’s Day office party… and doesn’t ruin the dress?!) Every romantic plot point is as predictable as a Katherine Heigl movie… in fact, I think I started imagining Jennifer as Katherine about a third into the book.

As for the ex, I don’t know if this is canon but it sounds like it came out of a fan fiction. I mean, this guy is some former rock star who saw her dancing at one of his concerts, grabbed her, had a one night stand with her, and apparently fell desperately in love with her but couldn’t remember her name. Yeah, that’s what a lot of women, and some men, might wish would happen, but seriously? And sure, the ‘loved a life-time in a single day’ romance trope is a classic, but here it has that same touch of ‘I don’t know you but I have this crazy need to protect/love you’ that gets way over-used in OTP fan fictions where a writer puts together an established canon couple ignoring the fact that the couple had a building up period before finally hooking up.

And I’ll admit, I don’t believe in love at first sight. To me, all relationships have to be earned, so you can chalk a little biased against this particular part of the story. But when you tack on the fact that the ex’s finance is made into a total and complete bitch simply to make her unlikable rather than trying to use actual character development and emotion to prove why Jennifer and said ex should be together… it’s just really lame. Not only lame, but again, tropey and predictable. If it was going to be a semi-smutty romance then they could have at least made it a GOOD semi-smutty romance.

Jennifer WaltersAs for Jennifer herself, she is supposed to be this socially awkward, MMO playing, LARPer…which could be canon, as I said, I don’t know a lot about her, but here it feels like an afterthought and only there to reinforce stereotypes. A fair amount of comic book readers are going to be interested in at least one of these things too, so of course they have to have the main character into it. It’s like someone said, “Make sure Jennifer is relatable so make her do all that nerdy stuff that female geeks do.” Her characterization waffles, acting like Carrie Bradshaw (Sex in the City) the whole time until suddenly she needs to be Codex (The Guild). It’s all rather jarring with no clean edges. A woman can be a little bit of both Carrie and Codex, but there is a connection between both sides of that personality where they mesh… here, no meshing.

At one point the author seems to try to specifically say that ‘this is more than just a romance novel’ but she’s deluded herself. Any attempt at actually having any emotional discourse with the character got watered down with discussions of how much she needs to get a date while not drooling over her ex.

Don’t even talk to me about the last quarter of the book which completely dissolves into last minute plot-plugging a plot which is so contrived it’s not even worthy of a B-Grade comic book. There is also so much OOC from a well-known character that I want to be incensed on behalf of a legion of fan boys. If you’re a Fantastic Four fan, for heaven’s sake, don’t read this book!

There are other little things that bothered me, such as the gratuitous use of the words ooky and smeered (are these even legitimate words?), so overall I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone because it’s an awful comic book story and an lame romance story. I try to find redeeming qualities in everything, I really do, but the only thing I can say about She-Hulk Diaries is that it’s still a better love story than Twilight.

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That moment when something screws up in your favor but it doesn’t really matter…

Rogue Touch and She-Hulk Diaries from HyperionSo I do a lot of internet shopping because I live out in the country and sometimes it’s just easier that way, especially when I’m in no hurry to get something, such as the new Marvel books Rogue Touch and She-Hulk Diaries from Hyperion. Being a huge Rogue fan I decided I was going to read the Rogue novel even though I’m pretty sure it will be a bad fan fic. I figured I’d pick up She-Hulk Diaries as well because apparently I’m a glutton for punishment.

Both novels come out June 18th so I checked Amazon and Barnes & Noble to see what would give me the best prices, options, etc. It was then that I noticed that while both books are listed as “Pre-Order” on Amazon, Barnes & Noble will just let you buy them now.

Rogue Touch

She-Hulk Diaries

According to the tracking I should get them on Friday, Monday on the outside, I can never be sure around here, as I said, I live in the country. I also don’t know if this will get fixed anytime before the 18th but somehow I seriously doubt anyone will care as I’m sure these aren’t in really high demand.

But seriously… why couldn’t this have happened when I was anxiously awaiting Butcher’s Ghost Story or anything by Rick Riordan?

Well played internet… well played…

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