Marvel comic salutes Allegheny Health Network nurses


Nurses are often lauded as the heroes of the COVID-19 front lines. Now there’s a Marvel comic book illustrating their adventures.

Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Health Network worked with Marvel Comics and the Doner advertising agency to produce “The Vitals: True Nurse Stories,” inspired by the exploits of AHN nurses. The comic’s dedication page reads: “Dedicated to the more than 4,000 AHN nurses and their leaders who proved superheroes are anything but fiction.”

Doner produced a video featuring nurses’ children talking about their parents’ sacrifices during the pandemic, ending with the nurses revealing the comic to their children. “You’re a hero,” one boy tells his mom. 

The project began in July, when AHN pitched Marvel and got an enthusiastic yes. An appeal went out for stories from AHN nurses. “Stories started pouring in; in fact, we even received stories from some of the children of our nurses,” Allegheny Chief Nurse Executive Claire Zangerle said.

The artwork is by Marvel artists, pencilers and inkers. “They asked me several times to check their art work because they wanted everything to be as real to life as possible, i.e., the PPE, equipment, etc.,” Zangerle said.

The comic is available online, and 200 comic books have been printed so far. But the “overwhelming” response has led AHN to plan on printing another 50,000.

And there’s talk of more. “Marvel has signaled to us that they usually do comics in a series and this would be one in a series, so we are very excited about that!” Zangerle said.

Besides honoring nurses, AHN sees the comic book as a recruitment tool. “The collateral benefit is that we will put copies of the comic book into elementary, middle and high schools to promote interest in the nursing profession,” she said. 



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