"All the glamour-- the heartache-- the throbbing excitement-- of a big city hospital!"
--front cover, Night Nurse #1.

Super-heroes tanked after World War II ended. They would make a comeback in the late 1950s; meanwhile, publishers began experimenting with a range of genres, from westerns to horror comics, celebrities to fashion models. Comics then were sold mainly through newstands, corner stores, and grocers. According to industry insider Fred Hembeck, companies were less inclined to track the sales of individual titles then and looked at overall company profit. He believes this encouraged a willingness to support a greater diversity of genres, provided the titles sold at all. I wonder if publishers weren't also hedging their bets, in case the super-folk slumped again. Most importantly, perhaps, the 1960s and early 1970s were a time of fierce competition between rivals DC Comics and Marvel Comics, and each company tried to outdo the other with fresh ideas. Night Nurse, which lasted 4 issues from 1972 to 1973, was one of Marvel Comics' least-successful atypical funny books, and one which clearly tried to reach a female readership. Although it has become something of an industry joke, those four issues were reasonably well-written. They told the story of Linda Carter (she predates Lynda Carter's stint as Wonder Woman), a nurse who works the night shift, where she finds herself making life-and-death medical decisions, confronting a serial killer, and probing the gothic "Secret of the Seacliffe House."

A debate exists concerning Night Nurse's creators. Jean Thomas (wife of Roy Thomas) wrote and Winslow Mortimer drew Linda's Night Nurse adventures. However, Stan Lee and Archie artist Al Hartley had earlier written and illustrated Linda Carter, Student Nurse, which ran from 1961 to 1963. While that nurse-in-training is a Veronica Lodge to the Night Nurse's Betty Cooper, many fans regard the two Lindas as the same character.

Her own comic gave no indication that Linda existed in continuity with other Marvel characters. The trials and tribulations of a public health worker in a world where monsters and metahumans rampage through New York several times each month has, however, oddball potential. Two decades later, Marvel re-introduced Linda Carter and tapped that potential. She is now a doctor who uses the codename "Night Nurse." She takes a special interest in addressing the health problems faced by superheroes, and has appeared in several Marvel titles.

Fred Hembeck. The Hembeck Files. http://www.proudrobot.com/hembeck/index.html

Donald D. Markstein. "Night Nurse." Toonopedia. http://www.toonopedia.com/

"The Second Coming of Marvel Comics." http://www.mogozuzu.com/marvel2.htm

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