Actually, it’s not a new supervillain who has people up in arms over the latest Amazing Spider-man story, but rather an old one who has returned in the “Brand New Day” continuity.
In case anyone’s forgotten, I’m really no fan of this weird retconning of Spider-man. In bringing back the old Peter Parker that the writers love and remember, they have effectively thrown out the Peter Parker that I (and others) love and remember, canceling out his marriage to Mary-Jane and turning him into a character that many seem to find it difficult to support, or even like.
Not to mention the fact they’ve had about three other books and a TV series focusing on the high school-aged Spider-man, but had to make sure the main book which carried character progression and some semblance of forward movement was something like it, too.
But I digress, as this isn’t so much about that. The above is simply part of how we got to where we are today. A recent storyline portrayed Peter Parker (not in the guise of Spider-man) being kidnapped by the Chameleon, who takes on Parker’s appearance in order to use his photographer credentials to get close enough to the Mayor of New York to take a shot at him.
But before that can happen, he encounters Parker’s flatmate, Michelle Gonzales, who had a bad one-night fling with Peter the night after his Aunt May got married. It was bad enough, apparently, that she was about to throw him out, but then… well, see for yourself:
Click to enlarge.
So, she thinks that Peter has gotten romantic with her, but it turns out it was actually someone else, and now Peter is having to deal with the consequences. “That Parker luck” seems to be what many are attributing to the writers’ thinking, as they’ve made it pretty clear that they think the character should have nothing go right in his life, or else it wouldn’t be Spider-man. But in the process, a debate has sprung up over whether or not this is actually rape, and it could be legally construed as such, depending on where you live. On the other hand, depending on where you live, it can just as easily not.
On Scans Daily, user Box in the Box was rather disturbed not only by the implications of the above page, but worried that it would be played for laughs. The next issue’s follow-up seems to affirm some peoples’ fears of how this will go on to be handled:
HA HA HA SHE JUST NEEDED A GOOD STIFF ONE TO SET HER STRAIGHT AMIRITE???
NEVER MIND THAT IT WAS A SUPERVILLAIN WHO RAPED HER USING PETER’S FACE, BECAUSE COMEDY!!!
… S*** like this makes me think that whoever wrote it believes that vaginas have teeth.
Another reader, DrSevarius, fired off an e-mail to writer Fred Van Lente. And he responded as follows:
My understanding of the definition of rape is that it requires force or the threat of force, so no. Using deception to trick someone into granting consent isn’t quite the same thing.
Which is not to say it isn’t a horrible, evil, reprehensible thing that Chameleon did. He is a bad man.
He insults parapelegics and dips people in acid too.
Of course, people tend to consider rape a far worse crime than a number of things, even murder.
A follow-up response came soon after, revealing that Mr. Van Lente was unaware that his response was going to be made public. As such, he offers this:
First off, while I believe he had the best of intentions, the poster “DrSevarius” wrote me under his real name and asked me a question I thought I was answering in private, to him. He posted my response without my permission and without telling me beforehand it was supposed to be for public consumption.
If he had told me that, I would have, first off, made it clear that I am not a Marvel employee. I am not a Marvel spokesperson. I am a freelancer. I speak only for myself. That is just as true for the following statement as the previous one.
Also, if he had told me that, I may have been less coy about the following “Spoiler Alert”. Anyone who cares not to have stuff that’s in ASM #605 revealed now should avert their eyes.
Amazing Spider-Man #605, which went to the printer weeks ago, makes it clear that Michelle and Chameleon did nothing more than make out in the kitchen scene in #603.
There was no sex, and therefore no rape.
And I’ll simply point out that in the scene in ASM #604 when Peter comes home he has no idea why, exactly, Michelle is treating him differently, only that she is. He learns why– at least partly — and he responds, in #605.
Thanks for listening. I appreciate it.
Fred Van Lente
Some are saying that this is backpedaling, retroactively changing what happened in order to make what happened on the kitchen floor less severe. Others say that the timeframe for this to take place within the printing schedule is too short, so for now, it seems to remain unknown exactly how it will be handled.
One user on LiveJournal community noscans_daily has come up with a way that they feel this story can be salvaged in a human and decent manner, but at the same time, does not seem to be anywhere near expecting such a resolution to take place.
Now, it seems that a number of outlets have picked up the story, bringing it further into the public eye:
- Seeking Avalon: Marvel – ONLY STRANGER RAPE IS REAL RAPE
- Amazing Spider-Man And The Rape That Wasn’t (UPDATE) | Bleeding Cool Comic News & Rumors
- Spider-Man’s Villains: Not Rapists, Says Creator – Spider-man – io9
- This just in: Rape not a simple concept >> Sheena Goodyear, girl reporter
- dead time pacifies: Spider-Man Says Rape is OK?
- Stars And Garters – Is Chameleon Marvel’s Doctor Light?
- Van Lente on Chameleon rape – eXaminer.com
- Latest Spider-Man Issues Creates Controversy : Slice of SciFi
- Is There Too Much Rape in Superhero Comics? | Slog | The Stranger, Seattle’s Only Newspaper
Personally, I don’t really know what to add or say that hasn’t already been said. I didn’t consider the implications fully at first, more or less rolling my eyes at where this was going, but have become more disturbed by it as time (and considerable debate) has gone on.
It should be interesting to see where Marvel takes things from here, though to be perfectly honest? I don’t think it should ever have come to this in the first place, so my judgment may be admittedly biased.