Marvel moves into long-form fiction with heroines seeking love and fighting cosmic evil
by: Alison Flood
Stand aside, Bridget Jones. Becky Bloomwood, your shopaholic tendencies in Sophie Kinsella's novels have no currency here. There's a new chick-lit heroine in town, and she goes by the name of She-Hulk.
Comics publisher Marvel is teaming up with Hyperion Books to target women readers, with two new novels out this summer both featuring "strong, smart heroines seeking happiness and love while battling cosmic evil": She-Hulk, the female cousin of the Incredible Hulk, and Rogue, one of the female mutants from X-Men. This is the first time the publisher has taken its female superheroes out of the world of comics and into the world of long-form fiction.
"Marvel has had tremendous success with recent hit movies, and we think it's a great time to explore what happens to superheroines when they are dropped into traditional women's novels," said Hyperion's editor-in-chief Elisabeth Dyssegaard. Dyssegaard also told book trade magazine Publishers Weekly: "We think the books will definitely appeal to comics readers – male and female – but also draw a new crowd of women readers who will be introduced to superheroes through a medium they already love."
In The She-Hulk Diaries, which comes with an image of a green lipstick on its cover, Jennifer Walters is a corporate lawyer and sometime green rampager who is looking for love. She "juggles climbing the corporate ladder by day and battling villains and saving the world by night – all the while trying to navigate the dating world to find a Mr Right who might not mind a sometimes very big and green girlfriend", said Marvel. Written by Marta Acosta, the novel is out in June.
Rogue Touch by Christine Woodward will focus on the X-Men character Rogue, a mutant whose touch is lethal but who is also "a young woman trying to navigate the challenges of everyday life and romance". Rogue puts her first boyfriend in a coma, then meets "the handsome and otherworldly James". "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."
"In addition to threats to the universe, She-Hulk and Rogue have challenges that women readers know well, including finding the right guy. Our heroes are real people first and super powers second, which is why fans connect with them," Dyssegaard told USA Today . "These books delve into what happens if dating challenges also include turning huge and green or having a lethal touch, offering readers a unique perspective on superpowered high drama."
Not all potential readers were impressed, however. "If the comic book industry thinks that this is the answer to their woman problem, well, they're worse off than we originally imagined," wrote Alicia Lutes at Hollywood . "The novels purport to 'showcase strong, smart heroines', but seemingly relegate their stories to 'seeking happiness and love', as if those are the only two things women are programmed to care about, ever… Here's an unpopular opinion, comic book industry: Why don't we first work on making our female superheroes more than just spandex-tinged boobholders meant to tantalise and frustrate the predominately male audience that reads them?"