Agents of R.A.P.E.? A Comic Compendium One-Shot

Ed has some things to say about the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode “Yes Men.”

Like many other comic book fans out there, I’m currently watching Marvel’s TV extension to the Cinematic Universe, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., although here in the UK we’re several episodes behind our American counterparts due to Channel 4’s insistence on making us wait until they can show all the remaining parts together, rather than the sporadic way in which they unfurled the first few instalments. Bastards.

Yet I’m not here to argue whether or not it was a good idea to delay the series (it wasn’t), but instead to talk about what happened in episode fifteen of this divisive first season (“Yes Men”), where an Asgardian villain called Lorelei (Elena Satine) journeyed to Midgard (Earth) after escaping her captors. We see Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander), ally of Thor, sent to fetch Lorelei and team-up with our team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to subdue and capture the two-timing bitch. However, seeing as Lorelei has the power to seduce any man just by talking to or touching them, it’s down to the ladies and Clark Gregg’s Coulson (but believe me, he’s all man) to take her down.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s an extremely good episode in a series that just keeps getting better and better, but there’s one scene that made me think, “Well, that’s disgusting.” The scene in question is when Lorelei, who is currently controlling Agent Ward (Brett Dalton) via her enchanting wiles, then has sex with said agent. Having coitus with someone who’s currently being mind-controlled sounds suspiciously like rape to me. Oh right, that’s because it is…

Why has there not been a massive kerfuffle surrounding this? Why was that scene aired in the first place? In the eighties, a very similar event occurred in Avengers when Warbird (Carol Danvers) inexplicably discovered that she was pregnant. She gave birth within a week, leading to “Marcus,” a child of Immortus (a time-traveller who tried to keep the timelines intact), who she then appears to fall in love with. Warbird leaves the Avengers to travel with him to another dimension. However, when there, he starts aging rapidly and soon dies. Upon his death, Carol discovers she had actually been mind-controlled the entire time and, because she had not only given birth to but had pursued an intimate relationship with this Marcus, she was therefore raped. This experience left her seriously damaged and was still being referenced almost twenty years after its original release.

There was a helluva shit storm surrounding this comic at the time as it appeared to show Marvel condoning such things, although the story was effectively nullified a year later by Chris Claremont right after writer David Michelinie “left” the title. If a storyline in a comic with a limited audience caused such an uproar that there are regular discussions about it to this day, why is an episode of a series with a very similar storyline – seen by millions people of all ages – completely acceptable? Is it because we’ve got so used to shocking storylines or is it that Ward’s male and therefore it’s less morally grey? In the episodes since, the characters make absolutely no reference to what’s happened, focusing instead on a potential love triangle in the team, so obviously no one at Marvel or this particular creative team thinks it’s wrong either. When someone is unable to make their own decisions, then there’s no way he can give consent to what happens next. And that matters even if you’re being mind-controlled by a sexy red head…

There will be people who accuse me of making a mountain out a mole hill and giving in to the PC brigade, or generally just call me a whining cunt (fair enough), but I genuinely believe that if it had been a female character under a bloke’s control, the atmosphere and environment of the scene would have been dark and torrid, rather than passionate and raw to match the surroundings of Las Vegas. Whatever the gender of the victim, having an “acceptable” rape scene in a mainstream TV series is absolutely wrong and does nothing to help build the credibility of comics and their related media.

Agents of SH.I.E.L.D. is getting a lot better and it deserves more than that…




  1. Frodozone says:

    I agree – if it was a guy doing that to a girl then it would have taken a much darker turn.

    It comes from everyday sexism where women are still considered weaker. So a woman with power over a man is evening things up, but a man with power over women is abuse.

  2. stargazer1682 says:

    There was definitely an extensive debate about this when it first aired, on the IMDB message board for AoS; many making the same arguments that Ward’s capacity to consent had been compromised. The same comparison was made that if it had been Skye, Simmons or May, the reaction would have been much different. The response has ranged from saying that Ward probably would have wanted to have sex with her regardless, to him not “really” being mind controlled; even though the implications of that being that he should then be faced with treason for taking over the Bus. There were even a few that made an even worse argument that even had it be a man controlling a woman, that they wouldn’t feel any differently about the scenario… It’s stupid and disgusting, but the division appears to also follow the same lines of those who contrive the most absurd excuses for Agents of SHIELD’s many lapses in internal logic, and those who expect hold the writers and characters to a high standard for critical thinking.

  3. Comic Compendium says:

    If you are unable to give consent then it doesn’t matter how much someone might ‘want’ something at another time, it’s rape. ‘Evening things up’ is also idiotic as it’s just ‘eye for an eye’, something not allowed in law.
    Whether it’s ‘feminists’ who have the sexist belief women are genuinely better and deserve retribution or just retards it doesn’t matter. That people can’t see this is a problem is disgusting. If the writers write a bad episode so be it, but i’d rather they had a shitty series over this misandric piece of ignorance.

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