Morning Glories, Volume 3
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Joe Eisma
Colors by Rodin Esquejo
Covers by Alex Sollazzo
Letters by Johnny Lowe
Release Date: June 27, 2012
Cover Price: $14.99
Morning Glories bears more than a passing resemblance to Lost. It’s not a straight rip-off, but the plot structure is undeniably derivative. So what? True originality in fiction is incredibly rare. Originality is also completely unrelated to entertainment value, which is how I judge my comics. And that’s where Morning Glories shines: this series is a true page-turner. At the end of each issue you can sense a collective “d’oh!” from the thousands of fans devouring the issue on release day. Morning Glories is a sure bet to end on a shocking cliffhanger will hang, unelaborated, for several issues. The ever-deepening mystery cannot sustain itself indefinitely, however. Fans demand answers. How much longer can writer Nick Spencer slab layers on to his mystery cake before fans start tuning out?
Morning Glories: Volume 3 collects the third arc of the series, issues #13-#19. In the previous issue, we were introduced to Lara Hodge, a guidance counselor at the Morning Glory Academy, who had been off on some adventure away from the school — probably a Lara Croft-like cave adventure judging from her appearance. Ms. Hodge allegedly wants to help the students escape from the school-prison-thing that is MGA. As we have learned from this series, however, nothing is ever as it seems.
This story arc factors time travel, shocking murders, weather control, and disappearing acts into the equation. Most of the issues branch off from the scene where Casey dumps Hunter and focus on an individual character. This break-up scene is repeated panel-for-panel, ad nauseum, several times. The MGA students are forced to participate in a game of Woodrun, where teams of three must locate flags interspersed throughout the woods. I won’t even attempt to summarize what happens. Think Lost without the polar bears and smoke monsters. Yet.
Several new characters are introduced in these issues. Hunter, all forlorn and distraught after his break up, meets his perfect match, Maggie, in the woods. Guillaume, an old bully from Hisao’s (the real Hisao) past, seems like he will play a large role in future issues. The core characters, while clichéd, are still endearing. I legitimately care about what happens to these characters. Even my least favorite character, Zoe, makes a dramatic turn towards likeability. She delivers a surprisingly perceptive evaluation on Hunter and Casey’s relationship prospects. In typical Zoe fashion, it’s harsh, but somehow heartfelt and reveals a hidden depth to her character. She still maintains her distant superiority complex, but she’s much more observant and engaged than she lets on.
Don’t expect any resolution from this volume. It’s a recursive mystery that buries itself under further mysteries. Therefore, it’s impossible to determine the quality of Nick Spencer’s story up to this point. It’s intriguing and entertaining; the actual writing quality is fantastic. Spencer puts on a clinic of the storytelling rule, “show, don’t tell.” The dialogue is flows naturally. Each character has a unique voice that is easily identifiable without any art. Ike’s smarmy, acerbic script, in particular, is phenomenal.
Joe Eisma‘s art is what initially captured my attention and brought me into the series. The story and characters locked me in as a fan. Eisma’s line art is expressive and simple. He allows colorist Alex Sollazzo the freedom to do fill in much of the detailing. The stylized colors give the appearance of a subdued hybrid between modern digital coloring and watercolored storybook. Overall, the artists team to create one of the more eye-appealing comics on the market.
But is the story any good? I’ll grant that it’s complex. However, I withhold any judgment on the story quality until I see how Nick Spencer writes his way out of the hole he has dug for himself. If you’re seeking answers, prepare for disappointment. Morning Glories is a mindfuck, but I’m not sure if Nick Spencer is mindfucking readers or mindfucking himself. Probably both. I’m into the story, but I’m equally fascinated to see how Spencer can resolve his exercise in irresolution. I eagerly tore through each issue and spent more time than I’ll ever admit pondering the latest twist. By that measure, this volume, and this series, are must-read material for comic fans that enjoy a teasing mystery.