I'm really fond of these early 52-page issues of ACG's love titles, and just look at the cute cover on this one. When you open up one of these babies you really feel as if you've got a substantial comic in your hands. Lovelorn 18 includes this wonderful Korean War nurse romance story, that addresses the very real situation many young women found themselves in during America's 20th Century wars. Here a newly qualified nurse, Jessica, falls in love with Alan, the son of a patient, but then he's called up to fight in Korea. Jessica wants to marry Alan anyway before he goes into action, and they have a wedding. Tragically he's shot down and presumed dead, and she receives that awful telegram, which sends her into a downward spiral of grief. A letter from her husband's friend and fellow combatant describes Alan's last moments and conveys his final words of love and hope that she would move on, marry a second time, and again find happiness. Jessica, however, clings to the hope that maybe her husband is somehow still alive, so she joins up as an army nurse, and heads for the front in Korea.
Out in Korea Jessica absorbs herself in her work of tending the wounded, but can't shake visions of her lost husband. Fate, however, seems to have something in store for this dedicated and faithful young woman, and she bumps into Major Charles Lawson, her husband's friend who had sent her the letter. Attachment to her husband, and lingering hope that he still lives, makes her feel guilty that she's attracted to Charles. To settle the issue Charles volunteers for a spying mission that takes him to the town where a US-friendly Korean man has reported he found and buried an American pilot's body at the time Jessica's husband, Alan, was shot down. Charles is successful in relaying vital information on the Communist positions, but is wounded, so Jessica gets permission to parachute in to treat him. She joins with him in defending the town against the North Koreans, and they hold out long enough for the UN forces to relieve them. Charles then reveals Alan's tags, proof that Jessica really is a widow and free to re-marry as her husband had wished.
As with many 'true-to-life' comic book stories, this one undoubtedly has some basis in reality. In the early 1950s men and women did still consider marriage a lifelong commitment, 'forswearing all others'. It's horrifying to me that I have to say "did still" but the truth is that many nowadays don't even attempt to remain faithful, or they consider marriage (if they go so far as to take that step) simply a temporary arrangement that they can dissolve whenever they feel like moving on to someone else. Of course I'm not including situations where there's real domestic violence and women need to escape. But marriage has become meaningless to many, and society has suffered as a result. It suggests to me that we're in a civilization that's passed it's peak and in decline, decadence being symptomatic and indicative of that decline. For America and the West, I'd put that peak in the 1940s, 50s, and early 60s, but because of the West's influence on the world, everyone else is gradually following suit, and at the moment there doesn't seem to be a resurgence of real values and integrity anywhere around the globe, just more and more greed, degeneracy, corruption, and ultimately chaos.
So for me romance tales like this one offer a glimpse back in time to when we were stronger as people, when our word mattered, when we were striving for the good and betterment of all, and when we still had principles. Sure there were things that weren't right - we still had segregation, women weren't treated equally, and so on, but a society existed in which those things could be righted, and they were. But simultaneously a great 'evil' grew - corporate interests that care for nothing but profit and the bottom line, and these have expanded to consume us all. Business, it could be argued, profits from divorce - two households instead of one, needing two refrigerators, lawn mowers, televisions, etc. Or both partners in a couple working means more taxes being paid that can be diverted into corporate coffers by lobbyists. More credit card debt and loans that generate interest for the corporations. Old fashioned values don't have much of a place in such a world.
But might cupid ring twice in our society? Is a recovery possible here even at this late hour? Can the tide of nihilistic, existentialist materialism be turned back? Can we again fall in love with a set of principles like those that made America great in the first place? I hope I live long enough, and that events transpire such, that I will one day be able to say "Yes"!