Sunday, May 17, 2015

Retro Reading: Night Nurse (1972)

In 1972, Marvel Comics decided to do something bold. Two new books bowed, which wasn't anything new, except for the fact that both were written by women. Unfortunately, both lasted just 4 bi-monthly issues, and were cancelled.

I remember buying the final issue of (Claws of) The Cat at the newsstand, my then-10-year-old eyes drawn to the vision of the title heroine in blue & yellow. However, not once did I see any issues of the other title in question, Night Nurse. It should've really been "Nurses" with a plural, like the 60's primetime drama, The Nurses, but, ehh, whatever.

I read all the hype about the book, but never got to see it, until Marvel, 42 years after the series was cancelled, issued a reprint collection that covers all 4 issues, plus an issue of Daredevil's current run, in which writer Brian Michael Bendis introduced a generic "Night Nurse" who looked nothing like the three stars of the original series. Timed to coincide with Netflix's current Daredevil series, which seeks to ret-con Luke Cage's ex, Claire Temple, into the role of Night Nurse, the volume, admittedly, was ahead of its time. Editor Roy Thomas handed the writing assignment to his 1st wife, Jean, with veteran Winslow Mortimer drawing the series. Jean Thomas was joined by Cat writer Linda Fite for the final issue, which, if I recall correctly, would be Ms. Fite's last writing credit.

As noted, Night Nurse chronicled the story of three first year nurses--Linda Carter, Christine Palmer, and Georgia Jenkins. As a non-superhero book in those days, with interest in humor books from the big 2 fading, the series struggled to find an audience despite some very good stories. My lone quibble is the Daredevil tie-in, as lame as that is. Bendis couldn't be bothered to bring back the original nurses and reboot them into the present, and went instead with a generic looking brunette. I like a good story as much as the next guy, and a human interest drama can work today under the right circumstances.

Could there be a new Night Nurse in the offing? Uh, no, not as presently suggested.

Rating: A-.

There are those who will feel as though Scott Snyder has jumped the shark on Batman by taking the cowl off Bruce Wayne, the 4th time that has happened in the last 22 years, and putting Jim Gordon in an armored suit and stopping short of being a total corporate sell-out. It happens that Snyder has run out of real ideas that would work.

One of his better stories was a 5-issue miniseries, Batman: Gates of Gotham, which went back and forth between then-present day Gotham, circa 2010, and the Victorian era, telling the story of four of the city's wealthiest families--the Waynes (DUH!), Cobblepots, Elliots, and the Gates, the latter added to the mix for the storyline, as the Gates family has not been part of the New 52. Regrettably, artist Trevor McCarthy missed a deadline, and they had to have a fill-in for the pentultimate issue, number 4. McCarthy returned to right the ship in the finale, but hasn't gotten a lot of work lately from DC. Hmmmm.

Rating: B-.

CM Punk makes his DC/Vertigo debut in Strange Sports Stories issue 3. His tale is a veiled ode to his beloved hometown Cubs, referencing the "curses" associated with the team, including Steve Bartman's ill-advised involvement in the 2003 NLCS. Ironically, the Cubs, winners of six in a row entering play today, are contenders in the NL Central at this writing. Punk topped his Thor entry for Marvel, and it wasn't hard. The best stories are often told straight from the heart.

Rating: A+.

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