When Doc Octopus took over Peter Parker's mind in Superior Spider-Man, there was concern regarding the character's relationship with women who knew the character before the mindswap, and whether it would qualify as rape. Indeed, a cover with Superior Spider-Man kissing Mary Jane caused a little furore. At the time I pointed out that the character's actions would define whether Doc Ock was his old uncaring self, or was trying to be a better person, and so it came to pass. the Superior Spider-Man broke off his on-again-off-again relationship with Mary Jane, and struck up a relationship with someone who had never known a pre-Doc Peter Parker. The topic was teased but ultimately done away with.
There have been similar concerns regarding the current plot of Batwoman. Mary Sue reported under the headline "Why is Rape in Batwoman More Interesting Than Marriage to DC Comics?"
Yes, vampires are often used as a metaphor for rape. This is not a metaphor and it's not seduction. Nocturna didn't talk Batwoman into bed with charm. This wasn't a character having a moment of weakness or a lapse in judgment because they felt vulnerable. Kate had her will and senses disabled by someone who then had sex with her and erased memory of the incident. Issue #36 also mentions that Kate's been has had repeated blackouts recently, which means she's likely been raped repeatedly.
However, there's no doubt about it; this is rape. Kate thinks that Nocturna is someone else as she approaches her bed. Kate says that she feels confused and weak because of the vampire magic Nocturna is using. Kate blacks out and can't remember anything or say no while Nocturna feeds on her and has sex with her. She's basically using a date rape drug, but in the comic it's called vampirism.
With NerdReactor, DigitalSpy and more rereporting those reports, as the writer of the comic tweeted his own assurances.
In today's Batwoman #40, what has been going on gets revealed. Kate Kane had never actually been turned into a vampire. She had only been hypnotised. And if you are hypnotised…
So there you go. Hypnotism, Consensual sex. Just not with a very nice person.
Comics courtesy of Orbital Comics, London. With an Irish Invasion signing and exhibition starting this Saturday, with Nick Roche.