The Small Lebowski:
Characters Appearing: Christine Palmer, Georgia Jenkins, Night Nurse (Linda Carter)
Night Nurse #1-4
Issue(s): Night Nurse #1, Night Nurse #2, Night Nurse #3, Night Nurse #4
All three of these new books were short lived. The reason for the failure may have been that there wasn't enough of an audience for books led by female characters. But this book, like the other two, is definitely reaching for two possibly contradictory audiences. On the one hand, the books had female leads and Marvel made a positive effort to use female creators. But all of the writers were friends, wives, and girlfriends of male Marvel staffers, not established female writers, and the concepts were created by men. And we have a woman in a cat suit, a woman in a leopard print bikini, and women in nurse's outfits. Sean Howe in Marvel Comics: The Untold Story writes:
In the year of Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" and the launch of Ms. magazine, Marvel's tales of candy stripers, cat-suited sexpots, and jungle queens could hardly be called revolutionary. ([Stan] Lee later suggested the title Night Nurse was a final legacy of his former boss: "Martin Goodman always thought there was something inherently sexy about nurses. I could never get inside his thinking there.")
The stories are such that i sometimes have to remind myself that i am reading comics written in the 1970s, not romance comics of the 1950s.
Here are our three Night Nurses.
And we're a mere five pages in when the dorm-mates starts lounging about in their underwear.
The characters do have distinct motivations. Linda Carter, the one that will much later actually become Night Nurse, is the most generic. But Georgia Jenkins brings social relevance to the series by being from a nearby lower income neighborhood...
...and Christine ("Chris") Palmer is interesting as a woman that gives up her father's wealth to make a career for herself in an altruistic field.
The characters initially don't get along but bond during an early experience when a group of children are brought to the hospital from a fire. Linda is found crying, not because she's sad about the kids but because she misses home, and the other two nurses admit that they're also homesick. After that (page 7 of issue #1), the three are the best of friends, despite their disparate backgrounds (aaand, more undies).
Linda is the first to experience romance. She's asked to take care of a young man that happens to be a donor to the hospital, and they fall in love.
He proposes, but he expects her to give up her career, to the point where he expects her to pick up and leave to fly to Buenos Aires to be married on her graduation day. She *sob* declines.
At least there's a positive message in here, that Linda's career is more important than finding a man.
In the meantime, Georgia's brother surfaces as part of a radical group that is unhappy that hospitals get power when the rest of the city goes out.
Night Nurse in action!
The lead radical is arrested, but Georgia's brother isn't off the hook and his legal troubles will come up again.
I do like that the nurses wear capes. I guess that was a real thing (?) but it lets me pretend that they are kind of like super-heroes (or maybe vampires).
The second romance is Chris falling in love with a renowned surgeon, and agreeing to give up her shift work to become his assistant. But he turns out to be a drunk and a pill addict. It's kind of funny how quickly it happens. First he's this greatly respected doctor and Chris admires his skill in the operating room.
But within pages he's popping pills and dropping surgical equipment and relying on his assistants to do his work, and just generally a mess.
In the end it's discovered that he was involved in a hit and run and that he's been using his assistant's prescription pads to get himself drugs, and Chris testifies against him. Linda winds up seeing one of his assistants, Jack Tryon.
The third story is much more crime adventure oriented. Some mobsters come to the hospital to drop off a man that they shot. He's already dead, and they killed him deliberately, so i don't know why they wanted to bring him to the hospital.
Linda is able to identify one of the mobsters from police mug shots.
Meanwhile, Georgia is upset that her brother has been sentenced to 10-20 years in prison when a mob boss like Victor Sloan walks free.
Sloan is later shot and brought to the hospital, and Georgia resents having to help him. Then we get into the adventure portion. Other mobsters want to kill Sloan, who is going to be a witness for the police, and Linda and Georgia have to hide him (Chris at this point is not around, having left after her experience with the surgeon; we'll see her in issue #4).
Linda doesn't get to be the action hero anymore, now that she's got a boyfriend.
Ok, that's not fair. She does eventually get involved, and is pretty badass.
In the end, Georgia agrees to help Sloan. There's no resolution to the situation with Georgia's brother, but maybe it would have been covered in a future issue if the series hadn't been canceled.
I was actually surprised to see one of the next issue blurbs refer to Linda Carter, Night Nurse (you can find it somewhere above), because the series is pretty much equally about Linda, Georgia, and Chris. In fact, issue #4, the final issue of the series, is a Chris solo story. She takes a job at a creepy mansion.
The mansion is complete with mystery lights and secret passages. And Chris' handsome young patient, who was supposedly paralyzed in a boating accident, turns out to be the drug smuggling killer.
This story is co-written by Linda Fite, unlike the first three which were solely by Jean Thomas. It uses a pretty generic template. You can see how, if the Night Nurse series had continued, more stories of this sort could have been done. But it wasn't exactly a winning formula for stories in 1972. Maybe in 1952.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Night Nurse #1 (2015)
Cat-suited sexpots...um, I thought that Greer avoided all that until she became Tigra? (then again it is her legacy sadly)
But hey, thanks to Bendis and the Daredevil Netflix series, Night Nurse actually has relevance to Marvel now.
Posted by: Ataru320 | August 11, 2015 7:29 PM
Yeah, Greer's original costume was fairly conservative as super-hero costumes go- it doesn't deserve to be compared to Shanna the Stripper's... I mean She-Devil's.
Posted by: Michael | August 11, 2015 8:02 PM
Nurses did wear capes during the 1960s at least.
Issue #4 is a riff on the Gothic Romance novel genre(which Steranko did a take-off on in Nick Fury with the Hell Hound story).
I believe Atlas/Marvel did have a "Linda Carter, Student Nurse" title in the very early 1960s, but I don't know if this is supposed to be the same character.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 11, 2015 10:16 PM
"I do like that the nurses wear capes. I guess that was a real thing (?) but it lets me pretend that they are kind of like super-heroes (or maybe vampires)."
Now THAT could be a cool series--"Heroic Vampire Nurses!" lol
Actually, just looking at your scans and summaries here, this series looks a lot more fun than I would have expected. I'm curious to find out what happens to Chris in the final story--you leave us hanging with her discovering her patient is a dangerous criminal! lol
Posted by: Dermie | August 12, 2015 12:38 AM
... I do find nurses sexy, too *blushes*
Anyway, yes - (American and British) nurses were wearing capes in the past. I don't know what the point was, but they did.
Posted by: Piotr W | August 12, 2015 1:30 AM
BTW. Jean Thomas? Wasn't Roy Thomas married to Dann Thomas in the 90s? So... he got married twice?
Posted by: Piotr W | August 12, 2015 1:32 AM
Yep. As far as I know, he and Dann are still together.
Posted by: Thanos6 | August 12, 2015 6:26 AM
And Michael, what's wrong with being a nymphomaniac? :)
Posted by: Thanos6 | August 12, 2015 6:29 AM
Piotr W, yes, Roy Thomas got married twice... but not as the same time!!!
Roy was married to his first wife Jean in the 1970s. After they divorced, Roy moved to California in the late 1970s. He met Dann there, and they married a few years later. And, yes, Roy and Dann are still together.
Posted by: Ben Herman | August 12, 2015 11:52 AM
Ah, yes, I think that Roy Thomas' divorce was mentioned in Sean Howe's book.
Posted by: Piotr W | August 12, 2015 5:49 PM
I have no idea if this is true or not, but I've heard rumors Roy has/had a painting of one of his wives as Red Sonja. Only, ah, wearing even less than Sonja normally does.
Posted by: Thanos6 | August 12, 2015 6:23 PM
Roy had his wife, Dann, shag Conan in a "What if?" issue.
I haven't read this series but there is something about it that seems fun.
Posted by: kveto | August 13, 2015 5:54 PM
According to Back Issue #95, John Romita redrew some faces in #2.
There was a #5 completely pencilled by Mortimer, but never inked or lettered.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 5, 2017 10:49 AM
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