Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
There is a celebration going on here at the underground bunker where I write Dave’s Corner of the Universe. (In the interest of truth Underground Bunker is what I call my room) the bi-annual High Holiday is once again upon us. It is time for the release of a Morning Glories trade paperback. Most of you are scratching your head right now, and thinking, uh isn’t that the comic book that occasionally has a blonde school girl on the cover?
It is THE comic book. The comic book that the medium of comic books was invented for. It is the final pure product of eighty years of comic evolution. It is the only comic book that I have literally dropped to the floor because a plot twist shocked me so much. So my question to you is why aren’t you reading it?
Well someone is reading it, I just don’t know a lot of people who are. The first six issues all sold out first printings as did the first two graphic novels. There is talk about a TV show based in the works. The fans are rabid about it, getting on line and comparing notes after each issue comes out, so why is still so obscure? Let’s first explore what Morning Glories is about.
I am going to warn you I can’t completely do this without spoilers, but I will try to do this as much as I can without spoiling too much. Because Morning Glories is all about the big surprise WHAM! I am not a big fan of X+Y=Z, descriptions but honestly the best definition out there for it is, Morning Glories = Lost + The Runaways. Take all the twist and turns of the JJ Abrams opus and then add in a bunch of teenagers who on occasion seem to have supernatural powers and this is what you get.
Morning Glories creator is Nick Spencer who basically went from unknown to comic book Phenom with this title and is now part of the creative trio that is reshaping the Marvel Ultimate universe. The artwork is done by Joe Eisma and he consistently hits the mark with his drawing, poignantly illustrating the stories.
The Morning Glory Academy caters to brilliant and disturbed children all born on the same day, May 4th. The Academy uses some heavy handed tactics to drive their students to what they believe is a better future. Including killing the students’ parents, death traps, occult ceremonies and keeping a private army on campus to keep the kids in line. What is the schools endgame? Heck if I know, 38 issues in and I still don’t know what the school wants.
We stat the series with six new students, (Referred to as the original glories), Casey a brilliant girly-girl on the outside and tomboy on the inside. She has an innate ability to understand group dynamics, and her father an ex-marine turned artist had an unusual compulsion to teach her the skills she would need to survive the academy, such as how to make tear gas from wine and hot sauce (Hint the reason for this involves time travel). Zoe a spoiled rich girl whose first memory is her father killing her mother, and who at the age of four miraculously learned English (She was born in India) a language she never heard a single word in before. Hunter, a C student pop culture guru, who reads every clock he sees as 8:13. Jun secretly trained as a solider, he is on a mission to rescue his twin brother form the Academy. Ike a swarmy rich boy who may or may not have killed his father and is asked to do it again. And Jade a goth emo girl who grew up in a normal Midwest family, who lost her faith in God because she witnessed a real miracle and its consequences. Did I warn you it gets trippy?
Then around issue 19 we are introduced to the truants, a secret commando team made up of students that infiltrated the academy to tear it down form the inside. Irina a Ukrainian psycho who is hiding in the woods and taking sniper shots at the facility and seems to know a lot more about what is going on than the rest and has a secret family relationship with a member of the facility. Guillaume a dedicated solider who is driven to be the best, and has a secret love. Ian, a geek, I knew this guy had some kind of secret, I just didn’t guess what it was. Fortunato, of European- African decent and whose posses a deep and true faith. Vanessa, who goes off plan when she falls in love and nearly loses everything. It may be her voice that is secretly guiding imprisoned students. Akikio a petite Japanese girl who is unnaturally strong and willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for her fellows, after contact with an unearthly presence she walks the no man lands between life and death.
Though the protagonist are trapped in the Academy, the storyline isn’t. The story travels into the past and future. The book and some of the characters go to a dreamscape and it takes place in multiple dimensions. In fact it seemed to be limited only be Spencer’s imagination.
I am going to use one particular scene to show Spencer’s inventiveness and creativity. When the student body is lost in the woods, a boy meets a girl. The boy-geek and girl-geek, bond over movie references and a love of cheesy horror TV shows. The girl invites him to join the audio video club that she is a member of. That night the girl is killed in front of the boy, by someone though he didn’t consider a friend he thought he could trust. At the end of the woodland adventure we see the boy covered with blood from his misadventures looking at a flyer for the audio visual club with the girl’s name on it. That one picture literally broke my heart. But then WHAM, later on we find on the flyer is a secret message left for the boy by the girl, about a secret society trying to stop the facility.
So if Morning Glories is so good why isn’t it more popular? Well one is the medium. The people who read comic books are a small percentage compared to those who watch movies and TV, and while there has been a rumor of MG transitioning to either the small or big screen, I really hope it doesn’t. Sure A&E did a great job with The Walking Dead, and Lost is proof that a quirky twisty show can catch the viewings public interest, it is just that thirty-eight issues in and it’s covered a six month period. (OK not counting all the time traveling). That could be like one or two episode of a TV show. I just don’t think that they can do it without really changing the story line, and no matter how good the new stories might be I would always be thinking, ah man that is different from the books.
I love indy comics, but you only get so much street cred, for being the little guy. Morning Glories which is published by Image, came out in 2010. Contrast that the Bat-titles that have eighty years of history to fall back on. A new kid in the Bat-family has a history to vouch for it. Even a new Marvel tie in has a whole world full of heroes that can guest star in it to give it a boost if sales sag. No matter how much buzz an indy title generates it doesn’t have the instant fan base that a title form the Big Two have.
And let’s face it twisty character driven comics are not to everyone’s taste. If you want to get something out of Morning Glories you need to be willing to put something into it. And that means starting with issue one. MG is not a comic that you can pick up because it has a cool cover in the middle of an arc and easily figure out what is going on. Image tried to lure in new readers with “Season Two” staring with issue twenty-five by offering it for a buck, filling in some gaps in the past and putting easy on the eyes Casey on the cover. This kind of back-fired. Sure loyal readers where rewarded with some fascinating insights but newbies where left just scratching their head.
Still if you are a casual comic buyer say spending ten to twenty bucks a month at your favorite comic book store you could still get in on the Morning Glories. TPB 1, is only $9.99, in fact all seven TPBs would only cost you 84.99 and I see them even cheaper on line. So you could buy the first one, then pick up one a month. I don’t buy the individual issues anymore, I wait till the graphic novels come out. Every six months I start with the first book, then read all the existing books in preparation for the new one. Kind of a lot of people do with their favorite series on Netflixs.
So if you want to be in geek Nirvana, follow these simple steps. Be a geek, go out and read Morning Glories, find/make friends, get them to read Morning Glories and then get together and fill up white boards full of the twists and theories about the book