The first story, "How Near to Heaven" written by Stan Lee and drawn by Gene Colan is short and to the point. Angela absolutely adores her job as an air hostess and doesn't want any man to stand in the way. She simply wants to date and have fun, with no real strings attached. That is until she meets Ted Harmon, a charming passenger of hers on a flight to San Francisco. As they get hot and heavy, Angela keeps reminding Ted (and herself) that she belongs in the sky and that she can't get too serious. You see, as reflected here in the panel below with a fellow stewardess -- Angela can't get married, otherwise she will have to give up flying.
The other flight attendant's warning about staying single is not in this story just for dramatic effect. That was reality for mid-century flight attendants. They were not allowed to marry, and once they decided to, they would have to leave their career behind. For many, being a flight attendant was a way to see the world before settling down, though for those that took it as a serious career and enjoyed it were out of luck for a number of years until the rules changed in the early seventies.
For Angela though, the decision seems to be an easy one. She wants Ted and he basically gives her an ultimatum. I wonder how many young ladies gave up flying not because they necessarily wanted to, but because they also wanted to be with the one they loved. A tough choice, no doubt!
The next story in this issue is a two-parter reprint originally from Teen-Age Romance #80 (March 1961) drawn and inked by Vince Colletta according to the Grand Comics Database. I know, I know. Everybody seems to hate his work, but I actually like the art in this story quite a bit. So, either I like Colletta or someone else drew this! Anyway, "My Love Wears a Leather Jacket!" is the tale of a spoiled, snotty girl from the suburbs who falls in love with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks who happens to look somewhat like Elvis.
The rather unpleasant, sheltered Anne is from the suburbs and has to move to a "slum" when her father gets ill and has to quit his job. She has only known perfect lawns and pool parties with friends who are in her words, "swell" and "decent" and "fun loving." She knows nothing of this world of "rough" looking teenagers who smoke cigarettes and are forced to take public transportation.
While taking a walk in her new neighborhood, Anne is harassed by a group of rough looking guys, which doesn't help with her negative feelings towards the move. Luckily, a mysterious boy named Rick comes to her aid.
That would not be the last time Anne would see Rick. He somehow figures out where she live and drops by. She agrees to go on a date with him, even though he wore the "attire of a young hoodlum." When Rick picks her up for their date the following evening, Anne is completely mortified by not only his outfit, but his motorcycle and his choice in cuisine.
Even though Anne thinks Rick is a nice guy, she just can't let go of the fact they are from different economic backgrounds. Her elitist attitude gets in the way of finding true love, and when Rick her asks her to go out again she blows him off with a lame answer.
When Anne goes home and sees her parents the next morning she has a temper tantrum and yells at her father for quitting his job. She just can't handle the fact that she may have feelings for someone whom she feels is "beneath her." Instead of trying to suck it up and make friends, she lets herself slip into a lonely, self-pitying depression. One day while venturing outside she comes across Rick and his friends. Anne flat out walks past him with her nose in the air. That night though, as she tries to fall asleep she is consumed by thoughts of Rick.
Then, one day as Anne is leaving school she is confronted by a seething girl who wants to know why Anne has been avoiding Rick. The mystery girl speaks very highly about Rick and seems very emotionally invested in his happiness.
We later find out that the girl who confronts Anne is, drumroll please! Rick's sister!!! No wonder she is so busted up about the whole thing! As soon as Anne hears this she realizes that she has to go find Rick and tell him how foolish she has been. While looking for him, she stumbles into the middle of a gang fight. All of a sudden Rick appears. Not to fight, but to break up the fight. After the hooligans refuse to break up the fight, Rick does so with his fists.
Though not very "romantic," these three panels are my favorite in the whole book. They are super action-packed!
After stopping the fight, Rick gives the guys a lecture in proper behavior. He has had enough of their antics, and just lets his feelings loose. Unbeknownst to him, his speech pays off and is the final piece of the puzzle that brings the star-crossed lovers together.
Isn't that a great story? It is definitely one of the more complicated and emotionally satisfying stories of the romance comics. The depth of the story was possible because the fact it had two parts, which wasn't uncommon for Marvel romance books. Sometimes it is just hard to fit a whole lot of plot into an eight-pager. Overall, this issue was a pleasant surprise and makes me want to read more Marvel romances!