Saturday, February 6, 2010

Unlikely Romance - Night Nurse #3

Greetings on this fine Saturday! Today we have the third installment of Marvel's Night Nurse (March 1973), written by Jean Thomas and with cover and interior illustrations by Winslow Mortimer. Though this issue is quite action packed, there are still snippets of the romantic imagery that Mortimer excelled in.

Issue two left our nurses exhausted from the crooked dealings of Dr. William Sutton, a schemer and a drunk. Things never slow down completely however at Metro General, and "Murder Stalks Ward 8" proves that. As Linda Carter walks the halls of the hospital, suddenly a man is thrown in by two thugs. Will he make it?

No! No he wont, for the victim is already dead! Luckily, Linda was able to grab a good look at the perps before they made their getaway and she is able to identify one as Joe "The Scar" Bronson -- a dangerous member of the mob.

Though emotionally exhausted from the eventful night shift, Linda stays up to converse with roommate Georgia -- just returned from her brother Ben's trial. Things are not looking good for Ben, who has been sentenced to ten-to-twenty years in the slammer for his role in the attempted extortion of Metro General. Georgia feels that Ben is just a kid who made a mistake and that the law should go after the likes of mob boss, Victor Sloan. Linda does her best to soothe Georgia, but Ms. Carter laments the absence of their other roommate, Christine Palmer. Christine, Linda feels, would be better at putting Georgia's mind at ease. Unfortunately, Christine is nowhere to be found.

After calming Georgia down and getting some sleep, Linda heads out on the town to finish up her Christmas shopping -- where she bumps into the dreamy Dr. Jack Tryon. This page would have been a perfect opportunity for a little romance, but unfortunately Linda and Jack's relationship seems to remain amiable, yet platonic.

Back at the hospital, another gunshot victim has been rushed in. Georgia recognizes the patient as none other than Victor Sloan -- figurehead of the city's criminal dynasty. In that moment of life or death, Linda has to remind Georgia of the oath they took to help all those in need of medical attention. Georgia reluctantly follows.

After working on Mr. Sloan, Linda and Georgia run into a gaggle of police there to guard the lord of the underworld and protect him from rival gang members. Just as the two nurses think they have things in order, they are accosted by workhorse -- Miss Brundage, who moves them to Ward 8 for the evening.

While working on charts on Ward 8, Georgia is drawn from her post by the sounds of music blaring. The music leads her to the cafeteria, where a holiday party is being held. There she bumps into Dr. Tryon who follows her to the elevator and back to work.

Georgia returns to the ward to find a frantic Linda. The police and Miss Brundage have disappeared, leaving the nurses to guard "public enemy number one," Victor Sloan. Terrified that someone may have lured the police away to get at Sloan, Georgia runs for help and Linda attempts to move the patient. Finding the medicine room mysteriously unlocked, Linda hides with Sloan in there.

Suddenly, Linda hears someone outside the door who claims to be there to relieve the night guards. After opening the door, Linda discovers she is perilously wrong. It is actually the highly dangerous Joe "The Scar" Bronson, who is there to kill Sloan in order to climb the ranks of the criminal world.

Georgia finds Dr. Tryon and rushes him to the aid of Linda. Linda however fends for herself, and gets the gun away from the lunatic before handing it to Dr. Tryon. In the meantime, Georgia goes to find the real police. Turns out the two officers on guard were tricked into being relieved by the impostor, Bronson.

Georgia goes to tend to Sloan who was incidentally shot a second time during the scuffle, while Linda takes a highly deserved break. As Linda and Dr. Tryon roam the halls, they stumble across the muffled screams of Miss Brundage who had been thrown in a linen closet by gang members. As the unappreciative Miss Brundage walks away, Georgia comes down the hall with Sloan. After Dr. Tryon takes the patient away, Georgia and Linda have a tender moment and walk off into the sunrise.

In the tradition of romance comics, an advice-type column, "Night Desk!" graces the last pages of issue three. Be sure to read this, its a real treat!

Though the series only lasted four issues, this column gives the impression that it was slated for a longer run. If only that is how it had turned out!

Issue three of Night Nurse is action packed no doubt! What it lacks in romance between Dr. Tryon and Linda, it makes up in the strong friendship between the Linda and Georgia. If you are a fan of the red-headed nurse Christine, be sure to check in next time for the fourth (and last) issue of Night Nurse, which features Christine predominately.


  1. Jacque: you gotta love Winslow Mortimer. What solid work, and what a cool cover. "When I get my hands on that dame, I'll . . ." says the Scar. " . . . you'll be too old to do anything about it," whips back dashing male nurse, Jack. Saa-NAP! You better hope that particular mob enforcer gets a long stretch, Jack. That's one clever retort he's likely to remember! -- Mykal

  2. What's fascinating to me is that you are exploring a distinct sub-genre of romance comics, where the actual romance aspect is out-weighed by the action-adventure aspect, as you point out. Was this a way to cross-over the male-female audiences? I would suppose so.

    Beautiful solid art by Mortimer, nice story, too.
    I would have to assume that, whether consciously or subconsciously, the name for the hitman was derived from movie star Charles Bronson, who at that point in time was just about at the high point of his career.

    Anudder great post, Jacque!

  3. What an abundance of "Mortimer fists!"


  4. Page 5 is truly wonderful. Jean Thomas really did her homework to answer properly that 13 year-old Girl's letter. She should be close to retirement by now... Is it any coincidence they hired Linda Carter to play Wonder Woman after Marvel cancelled this series ? No reason why Night Nurse vol 2 couldn't make a return as a mini-series. Westerns have finally made a comeback !

  5. Jacque,

    Thanks for sharing. I especially enjoyed reading the letter column, filled with interesting and serious letters. My brother and I did buy these when they first came out, and its too bad Night Nurse didn't last. They really seemed to be trying to appeal to a larger audience, one that would hold interest to males as well as females. I suspect there was too much product out at the time, and Marvel was all over the place, putting out tons of comics and cancelling titles very quickly, before they could build an audience.

    Nick C.

    Nick C.

  6. Mykal: I think Mortimer and Thomas make a good team! Mortimer's action is just as appealing as his attractive characters!

    Apocolyte: I do think this was an attempt to reach a diverse audience with a female writer and then Mortimer who was known for his superhero work and probably recognizable by romance fans.

    Marshall: Oh those little fists of fury are so adorable. I actually think there are less of them in this issue than usual, if that is possible!

    Lysdexicuss: Wouldn't it be awesome if Night Nurse made a full comeback in her own title? She appeared a little bit in last year's Marvel Divas, but a miniseries would be great. Too bad Mortimer is no longer with us!

    Nick: Kudos to you and your brother for purchasing Night Nurse! If I had been around then, I know I would have picked it up. It is too bad that Night Nurse, Shanna the She-Devil and The Cat got lost in the shuffle...

  7. Jacque,
    To be honest with you, at the time my brother John (who actually bought the comics since he was seven years older than me and had the money to buy the comics) and I never looked at romance comics back then, but I suspect because Marvel advertised it along with their female hero comics, he decided to buy Night Nurse as well.

    It took many, many years until I began appreciating romance comics - after the superheroes, westerns, horror, monsters and humor - my only excuse is, I'm a GUY, and it takes us a bit of time to wise up and notice a genre that has produced some outstanding work.

    Nick C.

  8. Jacque: Thanks for posting this series. Miss Brundage is a classic example of that other nurse stereotype, the 'battleaxe'. Young nurses beware! Fall in love, give up your career, settle down and have some kids, or you too can end up being a grumpy, unattractive spinster of a matron! At least, that's the underlying message of the stereotype. I'm looking forward to the fourth and final ish - even though I have it in my collection, I'd rather read it here!

  9. Nick: Glad you wisened up ;)

    KB: No problem! I am glad to post them. Too bad its almost over!