New paperbacks featuring Marvel heroines suggest that all supergirls need is love.

By Lindsey Bahr
Updated June 14, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT

There may be few worlds the superhero can’t conquer, but the chick-lit universe is still up for grabs. Marvel’s quest for domination begins with the new novels The She-Hulk Diaries and Rogue Touch.

The books focus on two established Marvel characters — Bruce Banner’s hot-tempered cousin She-Hulk and the X-Men staple with the deadly touch, Rogue — as they navigate careers, relationships, and evil forces in the mortal world. If vampires can find love in literature, why can’t She-Hulk and Rogue?

It’s an unusual concept and a valiant attempt to grow Marvel’s audience, but these first two stabs at genre integration skew too heavily toward tropes of women’s lit to be considered revolutionary. Career ambitions and tales of unrequited love overwhelm the text instead of save-the-world adventures.

She-Hulk features the heroine in her nonmutated, comparatively happy state as she chases a series of New Year’s resolutions without the help of her “jade-green party girl/superhero.” Rogue is darker. The poor girl is still reeling from putting her first boyfriend into a permanent coma when she becomes entangled with a handsome stranger on the run. Yet as the women fight to blend into “normal” society, the books lose sight of what makes these characters super in the first place.