When Sexual Assault in Comics Feels Casual: West Coast Avengers #1 Comic Review

Why Does West Coast Avengers think Non-Consensual Kisses are cute?

 Image of the West Coast Avengers cover. The team is front and center riding on a motorcycle through the air: Quentin Quire, Clint/Kate/Hawkeye, Gwen-Pool, and Fuse. America Chavez is hanging off the bike. The title, West Coast Avengers is displayed above in a graffiti style.

Image of the West Coast Avengers cover. The team is front and center riding on a motorcycle through the air: Quentin Quire, Clint/Kate/Hawkeye, Gwen-Pool, and Fuse. America Chavez is hanging off the bike. The title, West Coast Avengers is displayed above in a graffiti style.

Writer: Kelly Thompson Artist: Stefano Caselli Color Artist: Triona Farrell Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna Cover: Stefano Caselli & Nolan Woodard

CW for discussions of sexual assault

Let’s get this out of the way. Several panels at the end of the issue ruin West Coast Avengers for me. Before that, this is a great re-introduction to the West Coast Avengers, a comic that doesn’t take itself too serious. West Coast Avengers is beautifully illustrated, and has some very cool people on the team. Gwen-Pool! Quentin Quire! America Chavez!

Kelly Thompson writes both Clint and Kate well, and I love how they interact with each other. Kate has a boyfriend, Fuse, with a lip piercing and a septum that reminds me of myself. The team dynamics are interesting and provide a solid base to build from.

Stefano Caselli draws West Coast Avengers wonderfully. It's a pleasure to look at. The coloring by Triona Farrell gives sunny California vibes. A relief from the typical East Coast/NYC comic book settings.

I wanted to write at length about how excited I am for this comic and creative team. The main Avengers comic is disappointing so far, so a new team dynamic feels welcome.

Unfortunately, West Coast Avengers fails to take sexual assault serious.

CW for discussions of sexual assault

B.R.O.D.O.K.'s introduction undoes these good vibes. Why? Because he sexually assaults Kate Bishop by swooping in and giving her a kiss that she didn’t consent to.

B.R.O.D.O.K. looks like a ridiculous beach bro with a head that’s way too big, long blonde surfer hair, and a cardboard six-pack. We're not meant to take him seriously. We aren't meant to take the assualt seriously.

B.R.O.D.O.K. stands for “Bio-Robotic Organism Designed Overwhelmingly for Kissing,” as in, designed for sexual assault. I doubt dude is going around asking for consent first, it's like his thing I guess.

His arm is around Kate’s upper back on the last page. Kate is disturbed and frowning uncomfortably. The rest of the team has a wtf look.

But let’s be clear, the way this scene is written, it’s supposed to be funny, or maybe cute, or maybe something readers should brush off? It serves as the cliffhanger for the next issue, like, who is this guy? But there’s nothing funny about it, and I don’t give a fuck what version of M.O.D.O.K. this is.

Kelsey McConnell writes a great essay detailing instances of sexual abuse in comics. A cursory glance at reviews for this issue gloss over this assault. Shocker.

CBR writes that, B.R.O.D.O.K. has a “penchant for nonconsensual kissing [that] is worrying at best, but don’t underestimate him.” What exactly is there to underestimate here???

Reading this comic as a survivor feels triggering and insulting. It’s enough to ruin the issue for me and make me take this off my pull list.

Ideally,the next issue would open with Kate shooting an arrow through B.R.O.D.O.K.’s eye. What’s more likely is there will be some “dude what are you doing?” moments and the team will move on and we’ll have to spend a few issues of the arc with B.R.O.D.O.K. tagging alone. Worse yet, he could join the team.

6 out of 10 wilted spinach leaves.