Morning Glories #1-4 reviewed

January 6th, 2011

Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma

Late to this party but so, probably, are a lot of you.

Like the fella on the Internet says, Morning Glories is very much of the Lost school of storytelling where mystery is all. Four issues down and everything is still pretty much up for grabs at Morning Glory Academy: who are these kids? Why do they all have the same birthday? Why on Earth are the faculty terrorising them? How the heck are they going to get out? Cultists!?! Who’s gonna do it with who? Morning Glories is one big question mark that keeps getting bigger and that’s it’s primary appeal. Not to say that Nick Spencer – a writer who seemed to come out of nowhere last year but has since thoroughly stormed DC ramparts with his work on Jimmy Olsen, T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents and Supergirl – doesn’t make the comic work in other ways, the characterisation is whedonesque in it’s clarity, the plot is multi-laced but easy to follow, and the book is surprisingly fast paced, action packed, compelling and dramatic for a title where interpersonal dynamics (i.e. talking heads) are front and centre.

If I was to have a dig, there’s maybe a bit too much going on, too many elements in play, and as a consequence the book does risk becoming just a bunch o’ stuff, but on the whole the central characters have ju-u-ust enough gravity to hold the whole thing together. A stronger criticism is the way Morning Glories sometimes lapses into total unbelievability. No, I don’t buy Casey’s willingness to do anything other than scream and rage and weep post the revelation that her parents have been murdered, or any of the kids willingness to do anything other than whimper when it becomes apparent that their teachers are brutal lunatics willing to drown the lot of them.

The counter argument is of course that serialised fiction often has to juggle the realities of constructing ongoing drama with character plausibility, and that character often loses out in the equation, and I’m happy enough with that as far as it goes, after all Lost wouldn’t have worked if all the Losties spent the first few months sobbing for their less than ideal but better than being stranded on an island with a monster and hostile natives old lives, like, you know, would actually happen in real life. People need to keep going and behave in something approaching an orderly fashion is pretty much the bedrock of dramatic storytelling, but I can’t help feeling that Spencer has pushed some elements of Morning Glories just a little too far. Even Buffy, another obvious touchstone for this series, got a whole episode devoted to grieving her mother. Casey gets a neary a panel.

Perhaps the biggest problem with I have with the book doubles one of it’s commercial strengths. School as battlefield is a setting we’ve seen countless time before, it’s populated by characters who while well realised fit into well worn types, and hot girls in hot school uniforms vs hot sadistic authority figures, including nurses, ain’t exactly unusual given that those elements constitute the landscape of every young man’s wank fantasies. It’s calculated to appeal to the eternal teenage stiffy, the bit of us that watches shows made by Joss Whedon, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, and it’s all delivered via the kind of reasonably articulate if extremely dull art that specialises in cheesecake and looking a little bit like telly. Morning Glories is boring to look at if you don’t usually read comics with your hand down your pants, or want want your comics to ape the gogglebox, basically, and it’s aesthetic weaknesses work in tandem with it’s over familiar iconography, concept and storytelling methodology to produce a comic that sometimes feels a little flatter than perhaps it should given the unusually high quality of much of the writing.

I award this comic 3 brains and your wet willy.

18 Responses to “Morning Glories #1-4 reviewed”

  1. Greg Says:

    Anyone else think this comic could have worked as a Prelude to Final Crisis, with the school being a sort of orphanage, with Darkseid (The guy), Granny (The woman) and Desaad (The Nurse) attempting to torture the anti-life equation out of the ‘gifted’ children?

  2. Zom Says:

    Not really. I like things to be self-contained most of the time.

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  4. Botswana Beast Says:

    I would have read this because Spencer, wee bit hype, that Jimmy Olsen thing in Action Comics is fine, it’s alright, jolly enough, it’s nice DC are actually breeding their own talent again in him, Lemire, Snyder etc.

    But – and I don’t like to do this, I have an untutored eye and can’t draw for shit – the art, Joe Eisma is it?, is unbearable. I speak as someone who considers yr Tony Daniel or even Greg Land as – well, not sufficient to kill my desire to read a book. The guy makes Ed Benes (pron. “Beanz”) look really good; distended limbs, horrible gaping expressionless mouths, block colour generic clothing. It’s not… Image actually produces a lot of attractive, differently styled books from Jersey Gods through Orc Stain, via G0DLAND, King City, but this looks like – actually it’s a dull version of some of the worst early Image books, in art terms, I’d rather some steroidal, thrusting groins etc. It’d be something; I honestly can’t remember abreacting to the look of a comic like this in quite some time.

    So, I didn’t like the art.

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  6. Greg Says:

    I think the arts okay, it suits the tone of the book in it’s cod-manag-ish-ness. And it easy to tell the characters apart. And it’s all in proportion. So that’s enough for me sometimes

  7. Zom Says:

    I don’t think the art is bad (although I certainly don’t think it’s good either), it’s functional, but it’s also boring as hell. I think the colouring IS bad, however.

  8. prooker Says:

    Well hell, I quite like the book.

  9. Zom Says:

    So do I.

  10. Tim Says:

    I didn’t like the art and comparisons to Lost hurt more than they help.

  11. Zom Says:

    Yeah, ’cause God forbid anyone should compare it to one of the most commercially successful shows evar(!). Fo’ serious.

    But that aside I think I make a good case for the very limited comparison.

  12. Bucky Sinister Says:

    I want to like Spencer, but his work is often too glib, without any real depth to back it up. I did like his Forgetless mini last year, but that book was broad farce to begin with, so the weird unreality and shallow characters were fine. I think I’m supposed to take Morning Glories a bit more seriously, and so it fails for me.

    Haven’t read his Jimmy Olsen work, though. Maybe I’ll take a look if a trade comes out.

  13. Tim Says:

    Zom: But that aside I think I make a good case for the very limited comparison.

    I think so too.

    Just didn’t care for Lost or Morning Glories s’all.

  14. prooker Says:

    Bucky: I think DC is releasing a one shot with all the Jimmy Olsen back ups that have been released as well as the couple that haven’t been published because their (sadly) removing back ups.

    So it’s great if you haven’t been reading Action Comics and not so great if you have and have to pay for most of something you’ve already purchased.

  15. Smitty Says:

    Yep, have to agree with prooker. The Olsen back-ups = VERY enjoyable. I honestly believe the limited page count often works to their advantage. Have to do some checking but I think they’re rolling the last few unpublished into a one shot and then an ongoing? Everything is up in the air and I’m not a big ‘solicit’ reader but will do my best to check up and report back.

  16. Zom Says:

    Report, Smitty. Report!

  17. Smitty Says:

    …and news that DC has lined up Spencer to write a co-feature (which will be finishing in a one-shot) in Action Comics

    http://www.newsarama.com/comics/nick-spencer-rising-star-101105.html

    That’s from late last year just prior to the announcement that co-features would be going away to make room for $2.99. That said, it seems clear the plan all along was to extract Olsen from the co-feature for something akin to the James Robinson Jimmy Olsen issues from…what…two years ago now?

  18. was Smitty is now J_Smitty_ Says:

    So…

    I listened to an entire interview with Nick Spencer on War Rocket Ajax and found out a few things.

    1) Those guys are huge fans of Jimmy Olsen to the point they spent the entire Olsen centric portion of the interview playing the Chris Farley “remember when” this happened to Jimmy in the Silver Age game. Not a bad thing necessarily…just saying they covered Thunder Agents, Morning Glories, and Spencer’s boycott of Heavy Ink in like 3 minutes.

    2) People given the opportunity to ask twitter questions are often idiots.

    3) Morning Glories trade will be 9.99 for over 190 pages in Feb.

    4) Jimmy Olsen special will be in March (Collects all seven parts of the originally planned back-up) Priced @ $5.99 and after that, “a tiny bit more on that front and then it’s all done for me there.”

    Dude…Bummer.

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