In geekdom, we see a lot of teasers. Sometimes it’s just an image or the name of a creator, other times it’s a trailer or a simple tag line. Whatever it is, it’s meant to get a reaction from you and start a discussion. Inspired by the anticipation and buzz caused by these teasers, we at Fantastic Fangirls present Skipping to Conclusions in which we speculate about the comics, movies, TV shows, or whatever we’re excited about but hasn’t come out yet.
I learned about the Marvel Romance novels the way I learn about many things these days: from someone making pithy comments on the internet. Brief and/or sarcastic and/or rude. As a result I was on Yellow Alert when I read the USA Today article myself. And the article has some problematic underlying threads — women don’t get comics because they only like things they can relate to, which means romance, which means heteronormative romance — but that’s the article, not the novels themselves.
The section on the first novel is described as She-Hulk in the City without actually using those words. But it references Mr. Big and is legitimately called The She-Hulk Diaries so you are DEFINITELY supposed to relate her to Carrie Bradshaw.
Which, okay. I haven’t read much She-Hulk. I like her fine, but she’s not a character I follow regularly or pick up a book for and I don’t know if writing a novel about her would change that, romance or not. But then the second title was introduced.
Rogue has the ability to steal powers from whoever she touches — but that also means her kiss can be accidentally fatal. After putting a boyfriend in a coma, she hits the road and meets the enigmatic James, and together they go on a trip to escape his dangerous family and for her to come to terms with her own life.
And I realized: Oh! Teen Paranormal Romance.
I have been in more than one room and heard more than one person say something along the lines of “the bookstore creation of the Teen Paranormal Romance section signifies the end of literature” or less hyperbolically “I hate Teen Paranormal Romance”. And every time I hear it, it hurts my heart. About 90% of what I personally write would fall under the umbrella of this derided genre. And a hefty chunk of what I read, too.
I assume at least half of the TPR haters are really just against its most famous title (Twilight) and at least two thirds of those haven’t read it, they’re just making pithy comments on the internet (or in the dining room). I’m not really upset. So long as the derision doesn’t extend to the audience of teen girls.
The descriptions of these Marvel Romance novels leave me with plenty of questions. She-Hulk is described as a ‘businesswoman’… is she still a lawyer (because, for real, I’ve wanted a Law and Order like drama with superheroes forever)? Is the ‘enigmatic James’ a Logan/Wolverine stand in? Or even actually Logan/Wolverine himself? What other superheroes will appear in these novels? What other superheroines will get the novel treatment? Because I have a list people!
But the conclusion I’m skipping to, the one I want to pass on to our audience is: this is GOOD you guys. If people want to call marketing to women “pandering” to women, so what — it’s better than ignoring us. Now we can have a conversation about subversive sexism and heteronormativity instead of a conversation about visibility or the existence of female fans.
Plus, I can’t wait to read that Rogue novel! Zero irony!