Thursday, April 29, 2010

Nurse Romance Stories: Cowboy Love 11 - "The Challenge"

Not the place you'd expect a nurse romance story to pop up but there you go - the solitary 1951 issue of Cowboy Love published by Fawcett has an 11 page story featuring a nurse complete with uniform and set in the wild west! This is not my scan, it's from the Digital Comic Museum and was uploaded by TarsTarkas. The original comic itself seems to have been slightly misprinted, so there's a bit of blurring. Also the scanner has had to take care not to damage the comic, which appears to have had off-center staples, making it difficult to get the full pages neatly and squarely. This is a rare and fairly expensive comic, though, so for most of us, this is pretty much the only way we're likely to read it.

Not sure exactly what date this is all supposed to be happening in - the nurse's clothes don't look all that Victorian. The tale begins with Doc Blaine March and his pretty nurse Judith Lindsay doing their rounds out in some big country. Judith and the Doc are already in love, so that's a clue that something is going to throw a spanner in the works. The pair stop off to tend to mother-of-five Mrs. Edgeworth, but while there, some horse rustlers, the infamous Dribber Brothers, set fire to the barn and shoot Mr. Edgeworth dead, widowing Mrs. Edgeworth and leaving the kids without a father. The fire quickly spreads to the house. But worse is to come. Mrs. Edgeworth gives up her life, and now there are 5 orphans. These were good people, and something inside the Doc snaps. Despite Judith's protestations he straps on a gun belt, and goes after the Dribbers. Nobody expects him to come back alive.
But fear has left the Doctor, and he makes short work of the evil Dribbers. After word gets around that Doc March gunned down the Dribbers, another owlhoot turns up wanting to draw against the doctor. The Doc's a changed man - Judith can hardly recognize the man she loves. With confidence he strides out and icily out-draws the bad guy, sending his own reputation soaring, but erecting an even greater wall between himself and Judith.
Judith tries to rekindle Blaine's feelings with a kiss, but the mood is shattered by the comments of the worldly wise Belle (now who came up with that name? No stereotyping here!) Ravelin, who owns the dance hall. She smoothly whisks Blaine off right in front of Judith, who can't believe this rapid and disastrous turn of events. When the Doc returns he's clearly troubled in his mind. There's the nagging doubt that comes from his previous commitment to providing medical care to the locals, but also the truth that he has the power to stop criminals by using his skill with the gun. As Judith and Blaine debate the situation, a shot flies through the window, symptomatic of the gunfighter's life Blaine has now assumed.
Blaine's neglect of his practice brings old Doc Farber out of retirement. Judith speaks plainly to Blaine about the mistakes he's making, but he can't hear her. He's a changed man, and when Judith finds out he's engaged to Belle, it's just all too much for her. Running to escape the taunting Belle, Judith doesn't look where she's going and is hit by a stagecoach. An unspecified operation is diagnosed as her only hope, which Blaine then provides, his love for Judith inspiring the return of his surgical skill. Under the watchful eye of old Doc Farber, Blaine succeeds and Judith recovers, Blaine having vowed to return to using his hands for saving instead of taking lives. It took nearly losing Judith to bring the real Blaine back. They kiss, and all ends well, as long as word gets round that the Doc has hung up his gun belt!
Nice last panel with the doctor and nurse kissing in the background, and old Doc Farber winking at us from the foreground. So what image of nurses does this story promote? She's in love with a doctor. She's steadfast in her principles, and in her dedication (in this case to her man when he goes off the rails, as well as to the medical profession and provision of medical care to the populace). She's a pretty noble character in this story, in keeping with the image of nurses of yore. She is publicly enamored with the doctor, so that's a bit of a departure from the image of nurses that would have gone with the late 19th, early 20th century. BUT, he's a private practitioner, she's his nurse, they're in the lawless Wild West, so they're almost destined to be a husband and wife medical team. Maybe the setting allows for some latitude. As a woman she keeps her man good, and as a nurse she keeps him dedicated to his profession. Nice. The power of a good woman.


  1. Hi KB! Keep the awesome posts coming! I have nominated you for a Kreativ Blogger Award! Enjoy!

  2. Jacque: Thanks! I'll do my best.

  3. Nurse, romance and the wild west. Shucks, 'pears the only 'ding missin' is a guest appearance or cross-over in the storyline with Prince Namor.

    Is that joke really that bad?


    Steven G. Willis

  4. Steven: You'd need Stan Lee to write that one, but it's definitely not impossible! For example, let's imagine that Lady Dorma is dying from an archaic surface-dweller illness none of the Atlantean physicians can cure. Namor is currently banned from all terrestrial Earth nations for siding with Captain America in a reprise of his Civil War opposition to Iron Man and the authorities (see previous ish) so he uses Doc Doom's time machine, that he just captured from the Latvian monarch (see the ish before that for details), and travels back to the Wild West where he encounters Blaine and Judith. He brings them to Atlantis in the present and the Lady Dorma is cured. Namor shows his gratitude by lavishing valuable gems and precious metals on the Wild West couple, but as he attempts to return them to their own time, Doom's time machine malfunctions and they end up in New York in the 1940s. Namor is stricken with amnesia and unable to fix the machine, and both he and his medical team are stuck there. Blaine and Judith assume new identities and start a new life with all the dough Namor has given them, get married, and have a daughter, Linda, who grows up to be Linda Carter, Night Nurse!!! Namor becomes a bum on Skid Row, although he avoids alcohol consumption, but due to his Atlantean genes doesn't age. It is this Namor Johnny Storm the Human Torch finds in Fantastic Four 4! The younger Submariner, after wreaking havoc on the Nazis, the Japanese, and then the Reds, in the late 1950s comes across Doc Doom's broken time machine, and with the help of the original android Human Torch, is able to make it work. The only place time it will travel to now, however, is the 21st century spot where Namor left initially to get help for Dorma. Arriving nonoseconds after his future self left to take Blaine and Judith home, this younger Namor doesn't know he's banned from the land. The time machine conks out again and the stranded Namor goes ashore to see what's up, where he is confronted by Iron man for breach of his quarantine. One thing leads to another and soon it's full scale war between Atlantis and the surface world again! Phew!!