As we move from one year to the next, I like to take a moment and wrap up any loose-ends from the year gone by. Some might consider the fact that I still owe Scott a DC-Talk post a loose end, but I know that as 2013 has drawn to a close, he’s willing to end loose. Instead, while I can still make out a faint shadow that I cast in the receding glow of the holiday season, I feel there is still one last matter of festive business that needs to be addressed.
Hello, and welcome back to Comical Musings, your source for ruminations on the comic book art form that could only be summoned from the deepest recesses of the fanboy subconscious. By now you know how this works. I’m Hal, and I will proceed to talk about DC, as is my charge.
There is an unsung hero in the midst of this season of good cheer, and it is easy to let the holidays pass us by without acknowledging their contribution. As General William Tecumseh Sherman once wrote: “War is hell,” even a war on Christmas. We often focus on the foot soldiers, the secular store clerks with a well timed “Happy Holidays,” or their cold-hearted mastermind, Frosty the Snowman, but where would we be without the medics? So, I thought I would devote this entry to one particular medic, a supernatural being deeply intertwined with yule-tide mythos… namely the Nightmare Nurse.
Before I continue, let me be clear, the Nightmare Nurse has nothing to do with holidays, mythoses, or even DC Comics prior to July 2013, but now she is part of the cannon, so I feel compelled to comment…
Alright, for those of you playing along at home, the Phantom Stranger got shanked with the Spear of Destiny (slightly less effective than the Spear of Shanking) and was rendered nigh-dead on the doorstep of Justice League Dark. Otherworldly CPR proved ineffective, so John Constantine dialed the supernatural equivalent of 911 and summoned… THE NIGHTMARE NURSE duh duh duuuh!
Okay, she sounds like a Jack Kirby creation from the golden/silver age of DC: so she’s a nurse… of Nightmares! But no, 2.5 years into the New52 they decided that the medical field was under-represented (Dr. Fate had only just been reintroduced), and so the Nightmare Nurse was born. I was initially confused, because in her first appearance she makes reference to some history with Constantine. My research indicates that this was a red herring, but then again, basically every supernatural/female character could reference history with Jon Constantine; most just have enough decorum not to do so. However, judging by the way she drops names from the moment she first materializes, class doesn’t seem to be her chief concern.
But who is the Nightmare Nurse? She looks like if Daphne from Scooby-Doo fell on hard times and took a job doing nurse stripper-grams. Her real name is Asa. She knows some magic, including some healing spells. She took some sort of oath (I’m assuming it was the Hippocratic Oath and not the Tennis Court Oath), and now she has dubbed herself the “Nightmare Nurse.” Hey, remember alliteration automatically made things cool? Me neither. Fortunately, her practice does not exclusively cater to dream beings, and she was able to heal the Phantom Stranger, after he spent a couple weird issues in Hell.
At first, I thought the bizarre and somewhat corny interlude with the Nightmare Nurse in Phantom Stranger #8 was just a poorly thought out one-shot. Or, as I mentioned earlier, I thought she might be a character from DC’s less serious past, and her appearance was just a fleeting reference for comic nerds. The problem is SHE HASN’T GONE AWAY! She’s still paling around with Constantine and Swamp Thing Howl’s Moving Castle, or wherever the dickens Johnny C. has the Trinity of Sin chained up.
Sorry to go off on what may seem like a silly detail in the vast scope of the DC Universe, but I really don’t like her. It’s not that she’s a one-dimensional character, after her cringe-inducing self-introduction, her dialogue seems as well written as any of the other characters in Justice League Dark or Phantom Stranger. I’ll admit that I’m glad she isn’t constantly making puns like Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin.
My problem is that her character concept is so silly that it blows my suspension of disbelief out of the water. The name “Nightmare Nurse” is dumb. If I were a supernatural being, I would find it degrading to have to visit someone who calls herself the Nightmare Nurse in order to get my annual supernatural flu shot. She sounds like a character from a kids Halloween special on Nick Jr. “Oh no, the Friendly Phantom is hurt. We need to take him to the Haunted Hospital to see the Nightmare Nurse.” Her costume is dumb. I wouldn’t trust a medical professional who appears to have gotten their uniform from the “Sexy Nurse” section at Party City last Halloween. And all together, her presence makes me want to shout “Bah!” and toss any comic in which she appears, which is not considered acceptable behavior at my local comic retailer’s place of business. In short, I blame her for being asked to leave.
So that’s the last of my grievances. Thank you for humoring me. It feels good to start off the new year with a clean slate, not having to worry about ships in bottles or grudges against fictional, supernatural medical assistants. And I would encourage you to do the same. If you want to rant about any fictional, supernatural physicians or any characters in general, feel free to do so in our comment section below. Don’t carry that with you for another year. Otherwise, I thank you for reading, and I wish you an enjoyable new year with fewer Nightmare Nurses and more Comical Musings.