Yes, this is a novel about Rogue, the popular southern belle from the X-Men comics. But X-fans be forewarned. There’s no Uncanny action here. No Gambit. No Wolverine. No Professor X. No Mystique. No Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. In fact, the author barely acknowledges Rogue’s place in the Marvel universe at all. Only at the end do we get a hint of things to come: “There always stood the chance that before too long, I’d run into someone else like me,” says Rogue as she rides off into the sunset.
Instead of a straight-ahead superhero novel, Rogue Touch is a superhero/romance mash-up. Regular followers of this site know that we love this sort of stuff (check out our review of Night Shadow by Nora Roberts). And conveniently, romance and sexual awakening align perfectly with the origin of Anna Marie from angst-y teenager to super-popular superhero.
Long-time X-Men fans may bristle at how the novel strays from sacred comic book text. But not us. We’ve always felt that good stories trump continuity inconsistencies like scissors cut paper. Rogue’s well-known origin is painted in broad strokes: she’s from Mississippi and she discovers her affliction/talent while kissing a cute boy. That’s all you really need to know. The author takes the initiative to pen a “lost chapter” from Rogue’s early years. And for the most part, she gives us a glimpse into our hero’s fragile heart.
After losing her job at the Sunshine Bakery, Anna Marie hooks up with a mysterious (but dreamy) drifter. The two embark on a rambling road trip from Mississippi to Colorado, and down through Arizona to Mexico. To finance their adventure, the pair steal cars, break into homes, and rob gas stations as needed. In a way, they’re sort of like a DisneyXD version of Bonnie and Clyde. Although, later, the novel features some non-G-rated skinny-dipping and sex—two things we wholeheartedly endorse.
Beyond these declarative details, the author has managed to write a story that skates evenly between the personal and the epic. Rogue is trying to figure out how to live with her mutation. And Touch (her boyfriend) is on a time-traveling mission to save the future. Somewhere between Mississippi and Mexico, both characters fall in love. When everything has been said and done, it’s good to know that love is the answer to everyone’s problems. You don’t have to be a member of the X-Men to know that.
[Rogue Touch / By Christine Woodward / First Printing: June 2013 / ISBN: 9781401311025]