Thursday, September 16, 2010

Nurse Romance Stories: Secret Hearts 63 - "Heartbeat of Jealousy"

"Heartbeat of Jealousy" in DC's Secret Hearts 63 features an oft-used ploy in hospital romance stories - that of the male patient with the bandaged up face. The nurse falls in love with the real 'him' rather than his looks. The patient is a war veteran, and his girlfriend can't handle seeing him disfigured after rescuing a pilot from crashed plane, despite the nurse's pleas for her to remember he's still the same boy she loved. Adam has lost the will to fight for his recovery, but Dr. Lubeck knows Nurse Stevens is in love with her patient, and that somehow she has the power to restore him. Restore him she does, and with the bandages off he looks like a real hunk! Nurse Stevens and Adam develop a relationship, which is soon tested when she escorts him home. He's greeted like a hero by the townsfolk, but now that he isn't ugly from his injuries, his old flame rekindles her interest and tries to rid him of his new partner. Adam figures it all out, though, and the nurse is rewarded for her devotion.

This is beautiful art, often found in DC romance comics, but it isn't romance without tears. We see our nurse and our rival shedding them on a couple of occasions. The nurse in this story is the doctor's handmaiden stereotype. She's also professional in her appearance, but falls in love with her patient. She does the bedside vigil, and is emotionally involved to the extent that her actual behavior might be considered inappropriate, getting intense with the girlfriend at the beginning. The doctor uses her attraction for the patient as part of his cure, thus making it all 'okay'. How often that would have happened in real life is debatable. This is one of the issues nursing leaders of the 70s had problems with, the fantasy that had evolved around the image of nurses, particularly from the 1950s and 60s media infatuation with hospitals.

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