Rogue Touch ~ Christine Woodward

  • Title:  Rogue Touch
  • Author:  Christine Woodward
  • Genre:  Comics, Fantasy, Chick lit
  • Format:  ebook
  • Source:  NetGalley
  • Reviewed by: Valerie
  • Rating:  2 out of 5

Description:  “An interesting take on Rogue, as her powers take her down a path I never would have imagined.” –Chris Claremont, author of Dragon Moon and writer for seventeen years of Uncanny X-Men

Twenty-year-old Anna Marie was just fired for the third time–this time from a bakery. Why can’t she hold a job? Well, for starters, she dresses . . . differently. She looks like a Goth girl to the extreme, her shock of white hair contrasting with her head-to-toe black garb, her face the only skin she chooses to reveal. But Anna Marie doesn’t have a choice. Her skin, her touch, is a deadly weapon that must be concealed. She accidentally put her first boyfriend, Cody, in a coma when they kissed. Horrified, she ran away to Jackson, Mississippi, where she’s been living alone in a cramped apartment and scraping by on food stamps.

Then she meets otherworldly James and everything changes. He’s just like her–completely alone and also on the run. To elude James’s mysterious and dangerous family, the pair takes to the highway. As they cross the country, their simmering attraction intensifies and they both open up about their secretive pasts. James reveals that his true name is Touch and he christens Anna Marie Rogue. But with danger at their heels, they know they can’t run forever. Rogue must decide if she’ll unleash her devastating powers once again, which she swore never to do, in order to save the only person who seems truly to understand and accept her.

“A lost chapter from Rogue’s past, told with elegance and conviction and attention to detail. Really entertaining.” –Mike Carey, author of the Felix Castor novels and writer of X-Men: Legacy

Review: The Geek Girl movement is gaining ground and Marvel Comics has taken notice. I see what they are trying to do here, taking female superhero characters and giving them the chick lit treatment. It’s not a bad plan to try to appeal to the female demographic and maybe deflect criticism at their lack of female superhero leads. I am not sure that Rogue Touch is the novel to achieve this. The writing style is reminiscent of the Fifty Shades of Twilight books, shallow characters making their way through a weak plot that seems to be driven by an abundance of overreactions. I hear you saying, “But DarthVal, these books have sold MILLIONS of copies!” True that may be, but I posit that the gals of geekdom are seeking more intelligently written fare. At least THIS geek girl is!

The premise of the story itself was not bad. Boy meets girl. Girl can kill/main via her touch. Boy is not from this world. They are misfits on the run who can’t help but be drawn to one another. It is kind a sci-fi twist on the same old story. Kind of.

The pacing had a circular rhythm of attack, escape, and flee, over and over. You might be thinking that this is an indication of high adventure, but it just does not play out that way. The result actually felt like a bunch of random skirmishes that did little to move the plot forward interspersed by a couple of characters who were in sad need of some blessing of the hearts. After a while, I kind of just wanted them to be captured so that something different and interesting would happen in the book.

My desire for the capture of our heroes is probably the result of frustration over their ridiculous justification of stealing. Apparently, the author’s moral code is that all corporations (especially banks) are inherently evil and therefore it if fine and dandy to steal from them at will. This philosophy was kind of pounded into the story with the subtlety of a jackhammer. The characters were also guilty of frequent overreaction, which was one of the primary plot devices on which the author relies.

On the whole, I felt that the story was told in a rather sloppy manner. There was a scene where the author describe Lake Michigan as salty – um, the great lakes are fresh water. There is a tool called Google where one can easily verify facts about which they are unsure. There are other things that are sketchy, mostly having to do with the world of Touch/James (the main male character). I can’t go into detail without throwing out major spoilers, so I will just say that the explanations given were implausible at best. The origin mythology for Rogue was interesting, if lackluster.

On the bright side, the author does a good job of creating chemistry between Rogue and Touch. This is no simple feat considering the limitations of skin on skin contact. Some of the scenes are a little awkward, but how could they be otherwise? Regardless, the reader can definitely feel the attraction and longing between the two. If only that were enough to carry a book . . . specifically one that would hold appeal for the geek girl crowd.

Footnote: As you can tell from my review, I was not a fan of Rogue Touch. However, I also read and reviewed The She-Hulk Diaries, the OTHER Marvel comic-chick lit release and loved it. I really appreciate what Marvel is trying to do with these books, and I would love to see more. I hope that Marvel continues forward with this new genre giving it a real chance to take root and blossom.

Hellboy: The Midnight Circus ~ Mike Mignola

  • Title: Hellboy:  The Midnight Circus
  • Author: Mike Mignola
  • Artists:  Duncan Fegredo & Dave Stewart
  • Series:  Hellboy
  • Genre: Graphic novel
  • Format: Digital
  • Source: Review Copy
  • Reviewed by: Valerie
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

Description:  Young Hellboy runs away from the B.P.R.D. only to stumble upon a weird and fantastical circus and the few demons from Hell who inhabit it. An original graphic novel in hardcover!

Review:  Still a comic newbie, this was my first exposure to Hellboy outside of the cinema. The story follows the plight of a young Hellboy who wanders away from the protection of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense.

The confused and lonely young Hellboy portrayed in this story was absolutely endearing. The tale did a good job of presenting the quandary of dealing with the potential expectation for evil from both sides. Yet, all the young Hellboy wants is love and acceptance, to be embraced as a real boy, just like Pinocchio.

The artwork is dark, of course, as is fitting to the darkness of the Hellboy story. Yet, the artists did a great job of capturing the wonder and innocence of the young Hellboy. The images carry as much of the story as the writing.

My absolute favorite cell in this book is the final image of the Professor cradling the tired and repentant Hellboy child in his arms after they find the lost boy. It depicts the affection between the Professor and Hellboy, and effectively captures the essence of the story.

I think Hellboy has captured my heart, as he did the Professor’s.


Wonder Woman, Vol. 3: Iron ~ Brain Azzarello

  • Title: Wonder Woman, Vol. 3: Iron
  • Author: Brian Azzarello
  • Artists:  Cliff Chiang, Tony Atkins, Dan Green, Amilcar Pinna
  • Series: Wonder Woman Vol. IV #3
  • Genre: Graphic novel
  • Format: Digital
  • Source: Review Copy
  • Reviewed by: Valerie
  • Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Description:  In these stories from issues #0 and #13-18, a terrible betrayal forces Wonder Woman to make a deal with the gods who want her dead, and her “family” grows larger than she could have imagined. Will the mysterious Orion help Wonder Woman rescue Zola’s baby from the clutches of Hermes, or does he have darker intentions?

Review:  When I was but a young girl, I absolutely loved the Wonder Woman television series. I wanted to be Diana, Amazon Princess, a.k.a Wonder Woman. At the very least, I wanted my parents to change my name to Diana. Of course, they refused and as a result people fail to recognize my greatness, but that is a story for another day.

Fast forward to present day dorkorific DarthVal (ok, I added the Darth, but you must admit that it has a certain ring to it). In the past few months I have discovered that I enjoy graphic novels, further solidifying my place in dorkdom.

I was disappointed in my first female super hero experience (World’s Finest featuring Huntress and Powergirl), so I approached Wonder Woman with trepidation. After all, I did not want to tarnish those childhood memories. Plus, as an adult, I was not sure how I would feel about the portrayal of a super-hot chick running about fighting bad guys in her Underoos. I received an ARC for Wonder Woman Vol. 3, took a breath, and decided to just jump in and see what happened.

It is official. I STILL want to be Diana, last Princess of the Amazons. Wonder Woman is kick ass enough to flaunt what she’s got and still chastise anyone who dares to objectify her. She is sexy and intelligent, fierce yet fair and her compassion offsets her strength. Kudos to author, Brian Azzarello, for creating such rich characters. Beyond his vibrant heroine, the other characters were wonderfully crafted. In particular, I loved Orion. He was such a jerk, but at times, quite the charming jerk. I also found Hera to be a delightfully shallow she-bitch.

The story itself is told well. I particularly like how the graphic novel started with its back story introduction of young Diana, complete with retro looking artwork. As for the current thread, who knew Wonder Woman had such a messed up family??? (Probably everyone who is not newbie like me.) Jerry Springer’s guests have nothing on this bunch.

Finally, the artwork was FANTASTIC! Both the modern story and the flash back introduction were striking, providing the perfect visual experience to compliment a wonderfully written narrative.

So, I am now seated on the bus, on my way to take up my place in camp Wonder Woman. I just need to make a couple stops along the way pick up volumes one and two.

*Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was provided to me for review by the publisher through the Net Galley program.


Arrow Vol. 1 ~ Marc Guggenheim & Andrew Kreisberg

  • Title: Arrow, Vol. 1
  • Author: Marc Guggenheim & Andrew Kreisberg
  • Artists:  Mike Grell
  • Series: Arrow Vol. #1
  • Genre: Graphic novel
  • Format: Digital
  • Source: Review Copy
  • Reviewed by: Valerie
  • Rating: 3 out of 5

Description:  Spinning off directly from the hit CW television series ARROW comes the Emerald Archerer in these digital-first adventures! Show creators Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim team with some of the industry’s best artists, including Mike Grell (GREEN ARROW: THE LONGBOW HUNTERS), Phil Hester (GREEN ARROW: QUIVER) and others to fill in the gaps between episodes of one of TV’s hottest new series.

Collects Arrow #1-6 and #1 Special edition.

Review:  This was my first foray into the world of Arrow. I wasn’t sure what to expect, maybe a modern day spin on Robin Hood mythology? I can see some of that – the main character used his mad archery skills to take down rich and greedy bad guys. However, where Robin is dashing, Arrow is brooding. Very brooding.

The plot follows Oliver, heir to an empire, who appears to be trying to fix his father’s legacy by fighting the corrupt and powerful. The storyline is not bad, just a bit disjointed. There are a lot of flashbacks to fill in the back story, which is to be expected within a comic narrative. However, combined with random encounters, the story just does not have a clear flow to it.

The artwork itself is really dark. I love dark. In this case, however, the darkness makes it difficult to differentiate some of the characters. There is one frame that I found particularly appealing, when Arrow kills the police chief with a medallion. The cover is super-hot, so bonus artwork points for that.

Right now, I am still experimenting to figure out which graphic novels I like best. This one wasn’t bad, but it just doesn’t compare to the story lines in Batman and Superman Unchained. Perhaps I would enjoy it more if I followed the television series.

*Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was provided to me for review by the publisher through the Net Galley program.

World’s Finest #1, Huntress and Power Girl ~ Paul Levitz, George Perez

  • Title: World’s Finest #1, Huntress & Power Girl
  • Author: Paul Levitz
  • Illustrator:  George Perez
  • Series: World’s Finest #1
  • Genre: Graphic Novel, Superhero
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Good Reads First Read
  • Reviewed by: Valerie
  • Rating: 2 out of 5

Description:  • New ongoing series featuring POWER GIRL and HUNTRESS of Earth 2!• PAUL LEVITZ teams with amazing artists GEORGE PEREZ and KEVIN MAGUIRE.• Discover why these two heroes are stranded on our Earth – and what it means for the heroes of the DC Universe.

Review:  Basically you have two sexy women (whose hair miraculously seems to fall back into place perfectly despite any major battles) with super powers that run around in skin-tight outfits getting their butts kicked a lot. They come from an alternate Earth and whine a lot about wanting to go home. Meanwhile, they use their powers to attain a lot of money (hello ethics) and sleep around, when they are not battling and getting their butts kicked.

Despite the fact that I was clearly not a fan of the story, I did feel that the artwork was well-done. I just wish it had had more substance to support it.

Based on this book, I won’t be continuing with the World’s Finest series. But hey, I can see where it might appeal to tween boys, so maybe there is a market for it, after all.

The She-Hulk Diaries ~ Marta Acosta

  • Title:  The She-Hulk Diaries
  • Author:  Marta Acosta
  • Genre:  Comics, Fantasy, Chicklit
  • Format:  ebook
  • Source:  NetGalley
  • Reviewed by: Valerie
  • Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Description:  CURRENT STATUS: No job, no boyfriend, no permanent place to live, no car, and most of my clothes are held together with staples and duct tape. Bank account almost wiped out. Many of my former associates have expressed a desire that I never darken their doorways again for legal and financial reasons.

She-Hulk got us got us kicked out of the Avengers Mansion. People keep posting videos online of her New Year’s Eve shenanigans: twirling, flaming telephone poles in Times Square, climbing the Empire State Building while dangling Anderson Cooper…

Saying there are two sides to Jennifer Walters’s personality is an understatement. When she hasn’t morphed into a 650-pound, crime-fighting, hard-partying superhero, she’s a single lawyer trying to get her act together. Hilarious and action-packed, The She-Hulk Diaries tells her story, as she juggles her intense legal career by day with battling villains and saving the world by night. Maybe bad guys will stop trying to destroy the planet so she can have a real social life and even meet a guy who isn’t trying to take over the universe.

**Potential Spoilers**

Review: From the moment I spied the tube of bright green lipstick on the cover, I knew I was going to have to give The She-Hulk Diaries a go. The book was pretty much what I expected, think comic book meet Bridget Jones Diary, just not quite as clever as the latter. Even still, my inner girlie geek squealed with delight and enjoyed the ride. I have not previously followed the She-Hulk comics, an oversight that I am clearly going to have to fix ASAP!

It was not the deepest of stories (it IS based on comic book lore after all), but the plot is solid and enjoyable. The story follows Jennifer Walters, your not-so-average young attorney. She is currently down on her luck and looking to make some positive changes in her life, oh and to try to tame her wild-child alter ego, the She-Hulk. Gaining control of her life becomes even more challenging when she becomes embroiled in a mysterious plot . . . mwuhaha!

For the most part, I liked Jennifer’s character. She was smart and determined. However, I did want to slap the crap out of her for trying so hard to Dr. Morigi (and every other guy, except Mr. Right) into her PFLOMLY (Potential future love of my life). I have to admit, this is a total pet peeve of mine when women seem to be more caught up in HAVING A “love of their life” than in finding THE ACTUAL love of their life. I did love her alter ego, She-Hulk (Shulky if you’re nasty). Shulky is deliciously brazen and free spirited, but also very smart.

I do have to admit a bit of frustration with Stan Lee, the original creator of the She-Hulk character. Here we get this bad-ass female character, but then she is written as the not-quite-as-super super hero. She is not quite as strong as the hulk and has slightly less capabilities. Why can’t she have the same level of badassedness as the male characters??? Ok, in her favor, she DOES get to keep her intellect while hulking out, unlike her cousin Bruce. (yep, that Bruce . . . I could not decide whether to picture Bruce Banner as Edward Norton or Mark Ruffalo – tricky). I should also probably be made that they made her way hot, but I kind of like the empowerment of being crazy, green, raging, and super-hot all at the same time.

Ms. Acosta did a great job of building chemistry between Jenny/Jen/Gin and Ellis Tesla/Quintal, which is; let’s face it, pretty important for the chick lit market. The song lyrics were fun, but got a little old after a while because my geeky side kept thinking, bring on the action! Fortunately, there was plenty of gratuitous butt-kicking to satisfy the comic side of the house. The author also did a great job incorporating a lot of humor into the story. I loved all of the “rhymes with” references to Tony Stark (definitely pictured as RDJ).

Calling all geek girls – this one’s for you!

*Disclaimer: a free digital copy of this book was provided to me for review by the publisher through Net Galley.