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SUNDAY SLUGFEST: Morning Glories #10

Posted: Sunday, June 12, 2011
By: The Comics Bulletin Firing Squad

Nick Spencer
Joe Eisma, Alex Sollazzo (c)
Image
The focus on the individual Glories continues in Morning Glories #10 with a look at a day in the life of Jade. A very depressing day.

Morgan Davis:
Rafael Gaitan:
Matthew Z. Rios:

Morgan Davis:

The last time we had a Jade heavy Morning Glories issue, I brought up the point that with "Spencer is dropping things like Bell’s Theorem into regular conversation you have to question the very reality of any given issue." And now that issue ten has brought the focus back to Jade, that's more important than ever, as shifts between realities, dreams, whatever occur nearly every other page.

Bell's Theorem ("all reality is non-local") hangs over this issue like a menacing cloud, as we get at least two versions of Jade in this issue, the current one we've known since the beginning and the future/alternate version revealed in issue six. Adding to that we have Inception levels of dream fuckery going on with Jade, as whatever happened to her in that lab continues to dissolve her sanity (though there is reason to believe she never left that lab, or at least one version of her didn't...). Jade's dreams are filled with apocalyptic visions and surreal recollections of the tests done on her and certain messages are given to both her and the reader, namely "The Hour of Our Release Draws Near" and a cryptic quote from what seems to be a hooded teacher, "So We Created Our Own Gods."

Who is being released is perhaps the most important question. The ominous forces that control MGA? The victimized test subjects of which Jade is part? The students at a whole? Someone or something we haven't met?

The answer might be the latter given the proclamation that the MGA authorities "created [their] own gods," which opens up the possibility that beneath the Lost like sci-fi trickery there might be something altogether more Lovecraftian. Meet the New Gods, Same as the Old Gods.

At the very least, we're given reason to believe that Jade has been through all this before in some way and will go through it all again, perhaps looping into infinity. Her future self reappears, she runs into a mysterious man from one of her pasts and the lab morphs into an archaic looking cell- flashbacks, prophecies, dreams, all reality is non-local, indeed. That Jade herself questions whether she's dreaming in the issue's most shocking scene isn't just coincidence, it's a clear message from Spencer that when it comes to Jade reality is not to be trusted, either by us or the characters.

Joe Eisma is given a lot to juggle here and deserves as much credit as Spencer for the effectiveness of that shocking scene. Eisma tends to get overlooked for his work on this series and that's unfortunate since so much of what the series is going for is communicated visually- the mad scrawl of "The Hour of Our Release Draws Near" all over Jade's cell, the feverish horror of the apocalyptic scenery she visits, the disturbing giddiness Eisma brings to the visages of Megan, Jade's bald "friend" from the lab, and the RA, all of that is as important to the tone of this book as Spencer's excellent writing.

The partnership of Spencer and Eisma remains an ideal one and it's a testament to their harmony that readers can stick to a book that asks as much trust from its readers as Morning Glories. Even beyond that, Spencer and Eisma have brought the most valuable ingredient Lost had, its propensity to cause viewers to spend more time debating and speculating about the show than they even watched it, and translated that into comic form. Think on it- when was the last time a comic book series provoked this kind of discussion from you? We're not talking continuity squabbles or "who could beat who" in a fight arguments here, but real discussions that bring in such concept as Bell's Theorem and such disparate references as the work of H.P. Lovecraft and Lost itself.

If you're coming up short, you're not alone. No matter where Morning Gloriesends up- hopefully not cancelled before all is revealed- it's powerful stuff, a work that proves that there's no reason why comics can't provoke as many water cooler discussions as the best tv has to offer.




Rafael Gaitan:


Goddamn, Morning Glories is on some next shit. A breakout success since issue one, and deservedly so, Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma's creator-owned series continues to excel month after month, with each issue addressing both the characters' immediate story arcs and seamlessly adding a complex and intricate spin to the larger lens. Playing like a much-tighter version of Lost and with the razor-sharp cynicism and intrigue of The Prisoner (both clear influences,) Morning Glories is an exemplary form of serialized storytelling, and issue #10 does not let up on the answers or the anguish.

Focusing on Jade, the quiet and shy girl, this issue delves more into her seemingly supernatural abilities. In previous issues we've seen her encounter her future self, who is guiding her through her time at Morning Glory Academy, and this issue features this as well as an almost literal look inside her head, as we follow the narratives of various states of unconsciousness she undergoes. Spencer's unflinching fervor is one of the series' strongest points, and this issue in particular delivers a stark and grim moment of tension and violence that somehow even surpasses #8, and that issue had not one but TWO guttings! The particulars of the aforementioned sequence are best kept secret as to avoid softening their impact, but the brilliant usage of small, similar panels into a wide, two-page spread creates a chilling and moving effect both on the page and internally- you'd swear you're watching this unfold fluidly.

We follow Jade through a series of nightmarish nightmares, including taking a trip with her mom through what appears to be the Apocalypse, a dinner with a nobleman, and time in a brick cell. Spencer and penciller Joe Eisma transfer the narrative between these temporal moments with ease, slipping in and out as if viewing memories on a screen, giving the audience a voyeuristic sense and thus a transitive look into a person's life. While Spencer and Eisma always being the awesome, Morning Glories would be nothing without genuine heart. We come to feel for these characters, fear for them, and perhaps there isn't a moment as powerful as this issue's ending. Jade awakens in the nurse's office, wistfully speaking of silver streaks in the sky, tears in her eyes mirroring the same image. To spoil the context would be to do a disservice to Spencer and penciller Joe Eisma's careful, deliberate plotting and arrangements, but it's one of the toughest moments to stomach in modern comics. Eisma, the most criticized portion of the duo, improves continually, and his pencils this issue remain consistent and expressive, and when coupled with Alex Sollazzo's cool, lifelike palette, bring Spencer's words to full formation.

Morning Glories is a series that greatly benefits from being collected, as individual issues feed into one another and inform future twists and events, but each one also serves well as a highlight for the individual characters. In particular, Jade might be the most fascinating student at Morning Glory Academy, and this issue does a remarkable job of giving us personal insight while flirting with the more ethereal elements, and making the emotional exploration the most arresting part. It's never to early to spot true talent, and Morning Glories is a series that has not only bloomed and blossomed, but will deeply root itself in you.




Matthew Z. Rios:

Morning Glories…what else can I say about you that hasn’t been said? How about “holy shit!” because that’s pretty much what I went for with this month’s issue.
After seeing this book’s first big story arc, we’ve come to single issues that showcase each of our main characters and we’re nearing the end of them. I was a bit worried that these issues would drag the flow and feel of the series down a bit, having to jump back and forth between personal stories that didn’t weave together. What a foolish thought-why should I dare doubt Nick Spencer? Each one gave us terrific insight into the background behind these in-trouble youths and like always, left more boggling questions on our plates than we originally came in with. This book is a literary hydra: for every one fact it gives out, three mysteries take its place.

This month, we are treated to an issue revolving around Jade, my second favorite Lady Glory (Zoe is my #1…mostly because she’s from my hometown of San Diego but also because she’s so pretty). Regardless of her stance on my list, this issue is all about her, the most troubled and in-trouble of the bunch, most notably, being drugged several issues ago by the rather unfriendly nursing staff of the school. Now we see the aftermath of these tests- chronic, intense, disturbing, and cryptic nightmares. And while these scenes provide valuable clues that I don’t understand, the real shock value comes from Jade’s possible attempted suicide… right in the middle of a filled classroom.

Time and time again, Spencer astounds us with how far he can take stories, characters, and our emotions to the edge. Not since Walking Dead have my feelings been toyed with on such a grand scale. Normally, Kirkman’s ongoing zombie opus was the only comic book that made some sound emit from my mouth, whether it be an “aaaah!”, “whaaat?!”, or “HOLY F**K!”, but now Morning Glories has joined its ranks. Choosing to turn the spotlight from the insane school preying on its students to the actual students themselves was a pretty genius move. Not only do we get a break from the over-the-top situations that plague the halls monthly, but we also feel like we’re getting somewhere, story-wise. The problem with these long-drawn mystery stories, such as Lost, is that no matter how firmly the ending could be lodged, we as viewers get tired of feeling cheated time and time again. Although when it comes to Morning Glories, I feel this book has a pretty solid idea of where it’s going because every month, my fingers are glued to the pages until it’s done. Nick Spencer, I applaud you to no end and curse you to the heavens. I am thoroughly entertained and forever tormented.



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