EDITOR's NOTE: Morning Glories #1 will be in stores Wednesday, August 11.
If creator Nick Spencer were selling his latest series, Morning Glories, to a Hollywood executive, he’d have no shortage of pitch phrases available to him. With its blend of high school drama and conspiracy thriller, you could call the concept The Breakfast Club meets The Prisoner, X-Files meets X-Men, or maybe even The Matrix meets Saved by the Bell. However, putting all marketing aside, the best way to describe the debut issue of this series is probably to just say this--it’s good.
The title of the series is a reference to its setting, the Morning Glory Academy, a prestigious boarding school in rural New York. Thanks to a rousing action sequence that opens the book, we quickly learn that the façade of the institution hides many sinister secrets. It seems that the students of the academy are being held captive there against their will as the faculty and administrators seek to exploit their various talents for unknown purposes.
Enter the series’ principal cast, six new students recruited to the school under the premise of great educational opportunity. Spencer clues his audience in on just enough of Morning Glory’s nefarious goings on to give their arrival a hefty dose of dramatic irony, building the tension well as they begin to notice some of the oddities around them. By issue’s end, the cat is pretty much out of the bag for at least one of the students, putting to rest any questions as to whether the series’ plot will fail to move along swiftly.
Though the makeup of the cast is largely an assortment of frequently used high school character types (the superficial pretty girl, the spoiled rich kid, the moody emo one, et cetera), Spencer uses those familiar roles to great effect. Despite the allure of the mysteries of the academy itself, the best part of the issue may be the interaction shared amongst these characters. Some of the early dialogue does suffer from sounding too obviously expository, but by the time all six students are together at the school it fares much better. More than one exchange between these characters caused me to crack a smile in anticipation of seeing their relationships develop.
Joe Eisma lends a largely generic comic book style to the interior art, which explains why he isn’t the guy they tabbed to do the promotional images or series covers. That artist, Rodin Esquejo, provides highly detailed renderings of the six cast members that really draw out the personality traits that Spencer intended. By contrast, Eisma manages to squeak by in keeping the characters distinguishable, even if none of the females look any less attractive than the girl who is supposed to be the “pretty one.”
Few new writers in the industry seem to be rising in profile as rapidly as Nick Spencer, and Morning Glories stands only to accelerate that trend. If DC and Marvel don’t already have him on their radar, they’re bound to after this one hits the shelves. It’s an exciting first issue with a strong cast that has me really wanting to find out what happens next.
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