After two reviews of Marvel comics and one DC comic it seemed right to take a look at someone other than the big two, which brings us to Image Comics. Image Comics have a pretty bad reputation left over from the 90’s, mostly due to printed abortions like Youngblood which came to embody the worst aspects of the dark age of comics. But Image’s reputation is undeserved, despite those dark early days the company has gone on to publish some excellent creator owned comics that might never have seen print without Image.
And so we come to Morning Glories.
Morning Glories might well be the best new comic I’ve read all year, and in many ways is the polar opposite of the subject of my last review, Superman: Earth One. Whereas Earth One was a dull boring display of mediocrity about a major character and written by an established writer Morning Glories is an exciting and interesting original tale written by a relative newcomer.
I haven’t read all of writer Nick Spencer’s previous work but what I have read shows the he’s a talent to be watched closely and could very well prove to be one of the best writers in the industry over the next decade.
Joe Eisma’s art is wonderfully expressive and alive, flowing perfectly with the story and mercifully free of the ‘same-face’ phenomenon (in which characters will have the same exact face with only different hairstyles and clothes to set them apart) that plagues many artists. Although it should be noted the Eisma occasionally has an inexplicably bad panel here and there, in which the character’s features may be off or the scene will suddenly become lifeless, I can only assume that Eisma is having scheduling problems and that these panels were rushed, because they don’t meet the solid standard he’s set throughout the rest of the book.
Reading Morning Glories reminded me of watching the first season of Lost, despite the fact that towards the end the show can only be described as having derped itself into oblivion that first season was remarkably well made and absolutely everyone was constantly on the edge of their seats. Remember when Jack and Locke finally opened the hatch and then the series ended? That’s how I felt upon finishing this book, I had immensely enjoyed everything I’d seen and by God I wanted to find out what happened next right that second.
It can be difficult to discuss the plot of Morning Glories without giving away spoilers, so I’ll keep this as simple as I can. Described by Spencer himself as “Runaways meets Lost” (I’d throw a dash of 1984 in there too) Morning Glories is essentially about the six newest recruits of the mysterious Morning Glory Academy, and while that might not sound like a must-read setup as with the Academy itself there’s a lot more to Morning Glories than you might suspect.
To say that Morning Glory Academy has dark secrets is an understatement on par with describing Hitler as a bit of a dick. Again I’m trying to avoid spoilers, but the staff of the Academy prove themselves very willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. What are their goals? Damned if I know, but I can’t wait to find out.
Every scrap of information we receive about what is going on only seems to add to the mystery and I guarantee that you’ll be hooked by the end of the first issue. The story is constantly twisting and turning and it’s literally impossible to guess what’s going to happen next, this is a comic that never feels in danger of becoming boring.
But it’s the characters that might well be Morning Glories’ strongest aspect, Spencer nails down the six teenagers perfectly and manages to make each one of them likable in their own way, from possible future Hitler Ike (a magnificent bastard if I ever saw one) to the emotionally fragile Jade. My personal favourite is probably Hunter, identified by promotional material as ‘Most likely to quote Star Wars at inappropriate times’, something I may or may not do. *Cough*
The characters seem to leap off the page at times and it’s clear that Spencer took the time and effort to know each of them inside and out in order to make them as human and believable as possible. These kids aren’t just vehicles to drive the story along, they’re people you grow to care about and I genuinely hope that everything turns out okay for each of them (even Ike).
A problem many comics, more specifically Marvel/DC cape comics, have is that no matter what happens to their characters they’ll be alright soon enough, they even come back from the dead with annoying regularity. Whenever the Flash or Wolverine are in trouble the reader has no reason to care, even if by some freak chance they die they’ll almost certainly be back, probably within a year or two. The kids of Morning Glory have no such luxury and every time one of them finds themselves in danger I found myself on the edge of my seat praying they’d make it out alright.
Few comics have pulled me into the story as quickly and as strongly as Morning Glories and I really can’t wait for the next volume to come out.
In short Morning Glories is a well written and solidly drawn story, albeit with the odd art hiccup, packed to the brim with interesting plot twists and the most likable and engaging cast of characters this side of Transmetropolitan. As an extra bonus like many Image releases it is a lot cheaper than your average Marvel/DC trade, so I command you all to go and buy the paperback right this second.