Long Running Romance Comic Book Serial "Reach for Happiness!" - Episode Six
If you caught my post from a couple of weeks ago on the recurring characters of the DC romance comics, then you may be familiar with the face of Karen Wilder Summers of the "Reach for Happiness!" saga. Here I have for you the sixth installment from Secret Hearts #115 (October 1966). If you are just joining us, be sure to catch up on the first five episodes to get in the loop -- one, two, three, four, and five!
Last we checked in on the crew from Danville Corners, Karen had just been told earth-shattering news -- her old beau, Dr. Greg Marsh and rival, Rita are tying the knot. The news came just as Karen had worked up enough courage to tell Greg once and for all that she was still in love with him.
Greg leaves the room after the announcement, leaving the two women to glare harshly at one another. Karen is broken, and Rita is clearly not pleased with her presence. Karen makes a run for it and vows to never see either one of them again.
Karen's promise to herself doesn't last long, however. Rita chases after her, and begs Karen to go to a soda shop to chat. In what can only be awkward for Karen, Rita goes on and on about her unhappy childhood and teenage years. Karen inquires as to why Rita is opening up to her. Rita tells Karen that she has no one else to tell these memories to and begins to cry. Whether genuine or part of a manipulation tactic, Rita's tears garner Karen's sympathies.
Rita then goes on to try to ease Karen's pain over losing Greg by questioning whether Karen actually loves Greg or if she just misses her deceased husband -- movie star, Frankie Summers. Though Karen suspects Rita is toying with her emotions, warm feelings begin to appear and ultimately the girls part with a sense of calm about one another.
After her encounter with Karen, Rita decides to go visit her father to tell him the big news. He is very excited that his little girl will be marrying a rich doctor. Rita reminds him that she is marrying Greg purely for love, but she does admit that the money and status will be nice perks.
After the emotionally exhausting day, Rita heads home. Instead of peace and quiet, she is greeted by Ray Silva who is there to try to win her back. When she tells Ray of her engagement to Greg he is shocked and tries to talk her out of it. When talking doesn't work, Ray goes in to kiss her and is met with a swift smack to the face. Ray leaves dejected, and Rita begins to doubt herself. Perhaps she does owe Ray her affections? Rita quickly snaps out of it and promptly calls the town newspaper to arrange for an engagement announcement.
The next morning, Karen's sister Peggy comes across the engagement announcement in the paper and shows it to her. Karen understandably is overcome with emotion and decides to go on a walk to get some air.
While out, things don't improve for Karen when she stumbles upon a large cardboard cutout of her deceased husband, Frankie. Though it is just an advertisement for a revival of one of his movies, Karen is struck by its realness. She laments to the paper face about her current romantic situation and wonders what Frankie would think of her now.
Just as the DC editors asked their readers to "tell us how you are enjoying this continuing drama," I am curious to know -- what do you think of the "Reach for Happiness!" story arc? Would you like me to post more episodes in the future?
Side note! You may notice that Karen's married surname goes from "Summers" in the first few episodes to "Sommers" in this one. She is also referred to as Karen Wilder and Karen Sommers in various episodes. The inconsistency really speaks to the rushed and temporal nature of comic books!
Thanks again to Pat over at Silver Age Comics for this episode's scans!