Unlikely Romance - Night Nurse #4

 Night Nurse #4 Marvel Comics

Today I bring you the fourth (and final, *tear*) installment of Marvel's masterpiece, Night Nurse. Written by Jean Thomas and Linda Fite, Night Nurse #4 (May 1973) is beautifully illustrated by Winslow Mortimer. Additional credits include Andrea Hunt as colorist, Charlotte Jetter as letterer, Roy Thomas as editor and John Romita as cover artist.

The last issue of the series is focused entirely on red-headed nurse, Christine Palmer, and feels a bit like a Gothic romance comic.

 Night Nurse #4 Marvel Comics

After the devastating truth of Dr. William Sutton was revealed in issue #2, Christine tries desperately to move on with her life. Unable to make a go of it at other hospitals, Chris decides to take the plunge as a private nurse at the mysterious Sea-Cliff Manor. Chris should have been more cautious however about going through with the job, especially since taxi driver after taxi driver refused to take her to the mansion.

 Night Nurse #4 Marvel Comics

Still burning with optimism (and drenched by the storm from walking to the mansion) Chris arrives, only to be verbally abused by her new patient, the dashing and very angry -- Derek Porter.

 Night Nurse #4 Marvel Comics

Out of the darkness appears Harold, the butler. As he leads Chris to her sleeping quarters, she starts to realize why no cabbie would take her out to the mansion -- the place is creepy! As she tries to get some rest, she notices the blinking of lights coming from outside her window. Eventually they stop, but Chris can't help but ponder if the light was coming from a far-off lighthouse or her imagination.

 Night Nurse #4 Marvel Comics

Upon waking and reporting for duty, Chris inquires about the light. Aunt Edna assures her the lighthouse closed many years prior, and the light was most likely in her imagination after all. Later, Chris attempts her first therapy session with Derek. As a paraplegic, he is convinced he will never recover -- but Chris is determined to show him otherwise.

 Night Nurse #4 Marvel Comics

Dismayed at Derek's negative attitude towards recovery, Chris is even more determined the next day to set him on the path to wellness. When they head out to get some fresh air, Chris points out the supposedly abandoned lighthouse. As she begins to tell Derek about how she witnessed flashing lights in nights prior, he falls violently out of his wheelchair.

 Night Nurse #4 Marvel Comics

Catching him just in the nick of time, Harold notices that one of the wheels on the chair has mysteriously broken. Starting to get freaked out, Chris puts him to bed with a sedative to help him sleep after the trying ordeal.

 Night Nurse #4 Marvel Comics

That night, as she tries to get some sleep herself, Chris is awoken by a clanging sound and lights. This time she sees that they aren't coming from the lighthouse, but from a figure signaling in the darkness. As she goes out on her porch to see what the commotion is about, she narrowly escapes plunging to her death when the porch railing collapses.

  I love this page. It is dark, moody, and gorgeous!

I love this page. It is dark, moody, and gorgeous!

Christine confronts Edna and Harold the next day about the lights again and all the "accidents" that keep occurring, but Edna just blames the strange events on adventure seeking teenagers looking for kicks. Chris is not convinced by her answer, especially after noticing two sets of large footprints in the mud. Completely baffled, Chris seeks solace in Derek, who agrees to meet her at midnight to do a little detective work.

The night goes on. While she waits to meet Derek, she decides to ring up Linda at Metro General to calm her nerves. In a freak coincidence, the phone line dies and a bookcase opens up to a hidden passageway. Instinctually following the path, Chris is led to a pair of muddy shoes.

 Marvel Comics Night Nurse #4

Chris flags Derek down, and comes to the chilling realization that the shoes must be his! But wait -- how can the shoes of a paraplegic get muddy?!?!

 Marvel Comics Night Nurse #4

*Gasp!* Derek can walk!!! In an unexpected turn, it is unveiled that not only Derek can walk, but he is the main connection in the Northeast for smuggling illegal drugs into the country! As Derek attempts to tackle Chris down to kill her for knowing too much, the purpose of the mysterious flashing lights become clear.

 Marvel Comics Night Nurse #4

Derek gets a good grasp on Chris, and Edna and Harold come bolting out of the mansion -- frantic to break up the altercation. In a spur-of-the-moment move, Harold pushes the abandoned wheelchair towards Derek. Harold's aim is true, and Derek is sent flying off the edge of the cliff; spiraling downwards towards the craggy rocks.

 Marvel Comics Night Nurse #4

The shaken nurse recounts the entire tragic story to Edna and Harold -- the drugs... the attempted murder... All three walk away from the scene of the tragedy and reflect on the demise of Derek Porter.

 Marvel Comics Night Nurse #4

And just like that folks, the Night Nurse series, just as tragically, ends. There are no more issues, no more tales of Metro General, and no more musings on the beautiful and brave trio of nurses who fought so courageously for the health care profession.

As you may have noticed through the short run of the series, there were just a few romantic story plots. However, the series was definitely not lacking in romance comic undertones (thanks largely to artist, Win Mortimer) -- making it a perfect candidate for the "Unlikely Romance" section here at Sequential Crush. Every issue was rather different from one another and tackled genre conventions associated not only with romance -- but with medical dramas, crime, and horror. It becomes quite apparent after looking at all four issues that the creative team was experimenting and trying to find just the right niche for Night Nurse. Unfortunately for readers, they never did find it. After just four short issues, Night Nurse disappeared -- only to live in the hearts of those that adore the superbly scripted and illustrated adventures of three novice nurses from Metro General.