Comic Corner: Morning Glories Issue 1 Review, Part 2

Whoa.

Whoa.

I ended my review of part 1 with our heroes being drugged on the way to Morning Glory Academy (MGA). So let’s pick up, appropriately, when they’re waking up from the drive to their new school/prison/hell.

The obvious reason for the drugging is so the students don’t know where they’ve gone. Another way, along with getting parents to refuse to speak to their kids, to build barriers between life at school and life before it. Like a lot of other things that appear or are briefly eluded to in the first issue, drugging the students controls what we see of MGA. We don’t see the entrance (which leads to an interesting few scenes later on). We don’t see if it’s on the moon, or some other crazy ridiculous place. I didn’t find the lack of these details frustrating, but rather appreciated that it was done to allow future issues to elaborate on the world we’re being taken into blind, much as the characters are. It’s also a reminder that MGA is an extremely creepy place.

We were first introduced to the creepiness of MGA in the first few panels, but after focusing on the very normal, non-violent introductions, it’s good to get a reminder or two, albeit subtle ones here, that MGA is not your normal school. The structure of this issue is very much a parabola: The start is explosive, the middle quiet, normal-ish, and the ending shocking.

We’re drawn into our characters’ sense of excitement about being in a new place, starting a new life, hopeful. Throughout the middle of this issue, all of the dark, scary bits of MGA are relegated to images (like the slideshow) and silent movement (the guards carrying the bloodied body). It’s not until Casey’s parents’ murders at the end of the issue, that we finally come face to face with the reality of the series: high school is hell. A much darker version of Sunnydale High from Buffy. (I have a problem. I keep trying not to mention Buffy in all my posts, but here it fits fairly well, again.)

Meet-Cute

Meet-Cute

The rest of the issue mixes very normal high school moments, such as Casey and Hunter’s meet-cute, meeting roommates (some of whom are completely crazy—I love the way Pamela’s mouth looks huge and gaping whenever she talks), with a slow realization, for us and the characters, that something is off.

The birthday thing is a great way to do this. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for all the new students to have the same birthday, but it’s unlikely enough to be creepy. As the characters realize they have the same birthdays, we glimpse how different characters are going to react under crisis, which is going to come up a lot in a series like MG, where it seems like the shit is perpetually hitting the fan.

Let’s look at each of the girls, since the guys are mostly absent from the rest of this issue.

Crises

Casey comforts Jade, then takes charge, running around, asking questions.

Zoe is calm. Completely calm. Disturbingly calm. When we get to issues that show flashbacks to her past, we start to see why she acts this way, and likely also why she doesn’t try to help Jade at all. (At least not with the emotional stuff; there’s an interesting bit later on where she does help Jade in a different situation.)

Jade freaks out. That’s her thing right now. She cries. It makes her seem pathetic in comparison with the other characters. It makes it hard for us to sympathize with her because we think she’s just acting out. This continues along until we get a few issues that focus on her story, and then we see a completely different side of her. The masterful part of the characters’ actions in this issue is the way we come to understand them when we learn more about the characters.

After this, the episode spirals (literally, down a spiral staircase, nice touch!) into horror, and we see just how awful MGA is. This sequence is one of my favourites of the series so far: we watch Casey follow Pamela, trying to get some information about her and the school. We see what looks like a typical high school. A teacher walks by. A student walks by. Pictures and such posted on the walls.

Then the final two pages of the issue turn the colour scheme and atmosphere of the school inside out, from bright colours, blonde hair, uniforms, etc. to a black background and deep purples and reds. Look at how on the second last page we can see a bit of brightness on the top left, and the bottom panel is darkened and red.

But the best part of the whole sequence is that we have no idea what to expect. Casey and Pamela are talking, just having an almost-ordinary (for MG) conversation as they walk somewhere. Then, surprise! We’re back on the other side of the parabola, and kicking off one of the series’ main plots: Casey looking for revenge. And the fact that Pamela is smiling in this scene is just damned frightening.

Spiralling down

Spiralling down

What did we learn today?

  • MG is a mystery series. By the end of the first issue, we have a lot of questions, pretty much the hallmark of any good mystery show/comic/book.
  • Our heroes are very different from each other, and don’t necessarily get along. Hunter and Casey came the closest to any sort of connection, but we’re denied any satisfaction on that front: no kiss, no exchange of goofy looks, etc. There’s no sense of a gang getting together to fight the baddies, like we get in a lot of fantasy/sci-fi/supernatural-type shows. (See again, Buffy pilot.)
  • The characters don’t actually interact much, except to tell each other off, a lot. From this issue, it’s hard to tell who we’re supposed to be rooting for (except for Casey). That’s why it ends up working really well that the first bunch of issues spotlight each character in turn, explaining why we should be in their camps.

That’s all for issue 1. Look for a review of issue 2 mid-next week, which will be just one post (this issue is supersized).

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  1. […] Note: Because this issue is ridiculously long, I’m splitting this post into two. Find part two here. […]



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