Book Review: Marvel’s Rogue Untouched

Rogue has been the one character that the X-Men movies got totally wrong. Gone were all of the qualities that make Rogue such a compelling character that the comics made her to be. I was excited when Aconyte Books sent over an advanced reader copy for their new Marvel Heroines series. Read on for a full book review of Rogue: Untouched by Alisa Kwitney.

Book review Rogue Untouched

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ABOUT ROGUE UNTOUCHED

Rogue’s frightening new mutant powers keep her at arms-length from the world, but two strangers offer a chance to change her life forever, in this exhilarating Marvel Super Hero adventure

Young Rogue’s life is a mess: she’s on her own, working a terrible diner job and hiding from everyone. The powers she has started to develop are terrifying: when your first kiss almost kills the guy, it’s hard to trust anyone – even yourself. Then two people arrive in town who could change her life, and she finally gets a choice: try her luck with the big-haired billionaire who claims to be scouting for gifted interns, or trust the rakish Cajun gambler with the eerie red eyes. But these two aren’t the only ones interested in a mutant just coming into her powers. Rogue will have to master her abilities and decide her own fate – before someone else does.

Rogue Untouched Review

By far Rogue has always been my favorite member of the X-Men.  Southern, sassy and tormented by her powers, I think she is one of the most compelling characters in the comics.  Author Alisa Kwitney tackles Rogue as a young woman in Untouched, a new young adult novel in the Marvel Heroines series.  When Untouched opens, Anna Marie is a waitress trying to scrape enough money together to apply to Tulane University. 

In the Louisiana backwoods, Anna Marie is known as the untouchable girl who sent high school football star Cody to the hospital after one kiss.  One busy night Anna comes to the rescue of a handsome man named Remy.  Anna allows Remy to stay at her apartment and slowly the two learn more about each other including discovering Anna has the power to absorb other mutant’s power and take on for a short time as her own.

Anna and Remy are kidnapped by a mutant hunter whose mission is to sell them to the highest bidder.  In the mansion of a villain dubbed The Pig, Anna and Remy along with a few other mutants plot to escape but not before people from Remy’s past come to collect what he owes them.  In her fight to escape, Anna ‘becomes’ Rogue as she collects other power mutants’ powers and uses them against their original owners.  

Highly entertaining, Untouched fills that need for Rogue fans who want more than the short portions of a story that comics provide.  Untouched pulls from classic Rogue canon (the infamous Cody kiss) and the chemistry between Rogue and Gambit.  What it feels like is a new modern spin on the character with references to Instagram plus Rogue’s desire to go to college and to get away from her small town and the bad memories it holds. 

This story works because of Kwitney’s ability to clearly describe the characters, including the brand new mutants so much that I was able to easily visualize all the action taking place.  This retelling of Rogue’s origin story allows the reader along with Rogue to peel back the layers of her unknown abilities.  Kwitney deftly combines a thrilling action-adventure story mixed with a journey of self-discovery.  

Diehard Rogue/Gambit fans may be a bit disappointed at the ending but I think it’s entirely necessary for Rogue’s storyline to continue without her tied to Remy.  The novel leaves their future wide open and even Rogue seems to acknowledge it’s not yet their time as she has opened a new world with her mutant abilities.  Untouched is a must-read for Rogue and X-Men fans and I’m crossing my fingers for more Rogue books in this series! 

Interview with Alisa Kwitney

Congrats on this new book release!  Can you tell me how you got involved in this project and were you an X-Men fan before this book?

I was leaving San Diego Comic Con in 2019 when I sat down at a table with my old friend Stuart Moore, who was on staff with me at DC/Vertigo back in the 90’s. He was sitting with Sven Larsen, who had recently become Vice President of Licensed Publishing at Marvel. Sven and I were on the same flight back to NYC, and we shared a cab to the airport and got to talking about dream characters and projects. I think I mentioned Rogue, along with lesser known characters Shanna the She Devil and the Cat, as characters I had always wanted to write. A few weeks later, he introduced me to Marc Gascoigne and Charlotte Llewelyn-Wells at Aconyte, and I pitched a bunch of ideas…but Rogue was the one I was hoping would pass the finish line. 

As for whether or not I was an X-Men fan…I’ve always loved Rogue. I was an X-Men reader back in college, in the eighties, when Chris Claremont was writing. I just loved the romantic soap opera element, combined with all these weighty philosophical and psychological ingredients. But I didn’t identify with Jean Grey or Storm, and then, when Rogue came along, I was thrilled. She had all this lovely internal conflict, but she also had a sense of humor. 

2.  Rogue is such an iconic X-Men character and I liked how you took classic aspects of her origin story but modernized it for todays reader.  What sort of research did you do before creating your version of Rogue?

Modern X-Men continuity can be a little overwhelming, like trying to jump into a game of expert double dutch with multiple plot threads all criss-crossing at high speed. I wanted to give new readers a place to jump in without fear.  I know a lot of readers who are intrigued by Rogue but have not been consistently following the X-Men in comics. As for research, I did read Kelly Thompson’s Rogue and Gambit, which I loved, loved, loved, and I read some of the older Gambit stories. I’m still dying to read Mr and Mrs. X, but at a certain point in my writing process I try not to read too much. I need to find the characters’ voices and feel a certain freedom with story, and too much reading of what other writers have done—especially great writers who have done it really well—can be inhibiting.

3.  You introduce new mutants in this novel like Tessa who ends up being a really important ally to Rogue. What was that process like?

I looked back at Marvel’s X-Men films and then did some research to see what some of the lesser-known X-Men and Evil Mutants had done in comics. Whenever possible, I wanted to use characters who had some Marvel backstory. Writing Marvel characters is like digging in a garden that you inherit from someone else. You don’t want to dig something good out—you want to help it bear new fruit. But one of the great things about the X-Men is that they have a wheelchair user, Professor X, who is a unique and powerful character with a central role. I have a friend, the comics artist and writer Al Davison, who uses a wheelchair, and he helped me realize that it’s all too easy to fall into writing disability or deformity as a sign of villainy when you’re writing comics and mutants. In any case, I couldn’t use Charles Xavier, so I thought I would make another character who also uses a wheelchair. I try to be conscious of all my casting choices, when it comes to writing, so that I don’t wind up with an all white, hetero-normative, able-bodied young cast—unless I have a specific story-based reason for making that choice. The most fun I had, though, was with my reimagining of a Marvel character who has been depicted as pretty much immortal. In the comics, she always looked young and blonde and gorgeous. I have a different take on her, a sort of aging grande dame version, which was more fun for me to write. 

4.  Towards the end of the novel, Rogue makes the decision to stay with the Fellowship of Mutants rather than go with Remy.  To me, this is one of the most realistic aspects of this novel.  She decides its more important to explore her powers and to use them for good then to chase after a handsome man.  It shows her growth as a woman and as a mutant.  Was that a hard decision for you because a part of me wished she would run off with Remy and have lots of adventures!

It wasn’t hard for me to separate Rogue and Gambit, because I’m a huge fan of the When Harry Met Sally paradigm of rom com storytelling. Just because two people are right for each other at one point in their lives doesn’t mean they’ll be right for each other at every stage and age. I love romances that show people connecting and then losing each other before reconnecting. As I said, I love the soap opera element in comics. 

5.  Will there be a sequel to Untouched?  Can you share any future projects you are working on?

I do have an idea for what happens to Rogue and the Brotherhood next, but at the moment I’m writing a really fun, humorous time travel mini-series with a mostly female cast for Ahoy comics. The artist is Alain Mauricet, who is amazing and is doing some of his best work ever. 

About Marvel Entertainment

Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media for over eighty years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing, publishing, games, and digital media.

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