When is rape not rape? When it's a supervillain pretending to be Peter Parker and having sex with Parker's roommate, who thinks she's having sex with Parker himself, according to one of Marvel's Amazing Spider-Man writers.
Part of a recent issue of Marvel's flagship Amazing series featured villain The Chameleon taking the place of Peter Parker (not knowing that he's actually Spider-Man) and seducing Parker's roommate, Michelle Gonzales, which led fans to wonder whether this meant that Michelle had been raped:
Personally, I think it is as Michelle probably wouldn't have given consent to Chameleon otherwise. But some fans of the issue on Spider-Man Crawl Space are arguing that it isn't because she gave consent.
Someone thought to ask the writer of the story, Fred Van Lente, who argues for the non-rape side:
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.
(Rich Johnston points out that, under British law, the Chameleon is technically a rapist, for what it's worth.)
While Van Lente's commentary was meant as a final word, fans are upset at the cognitive dissonance between his "horrible, evil, reprehensible thing" and way the story is being played out in the comic itself...
...Or, as Daily Scans poster box_in_the_box puts it,
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!!! ... Shit like this makes me think that whoever wrote it believes that vaginas have teeth.
This prompted Van Lente to respond again:
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.
But surely the intent was to imply they had sex, considering Michelle was wearing Peter's underwear...? Van Lente also promises that #605 will show Peter's discovery of the make out session, and his reaction. Wonder if we're headed towards a "very special episode" of Spider-Man that explains why it's wrong to seduce women into making out with you and wearing your underwear while pretending to be someone else?