Thursday, February 23, 2012

Morning Glories Vol. 1: For a Better Future

by Nick Spencer (writer), Joe Eisma (illustrator), and Rodin Esquejo (cover art)

The first glimpse we get of Morning Glory Academy is a seemingly typical school scene. A female student is caught passing a note. As a punishment, her teacher has her tell the class about her forthcoming science fair project, an advanced-sounding Chemistry experiment. We start to realize that Morning Glory has a pretty good science program. The teacher’s dismissal of the project is a clue that the school's curriculum is even more rigorous than we originally thought. And then the student goes on to say that her Chemistry project can actually be made into an explosive, and that’s when the blackboard blows up.

This creeping suspicion that all is not right, followed by heart-racing action, is part of what makes Morning Glories such compelling fun. But the real hook is the characters.  Most of the new batch of Morning Glory students, who are the focus of the series so far, can be summed up with a few words (the boy-crazy one, the mysterious one, the emo one, the nerdy one, the Chuck Bass one), but they are so full of life that this feels like a starting place, leaving room for further development in later issues. And besides, the first arc collected in this first trade belongs completely to Casey.

Casey is blond, beautiful, and comes from a good family. She is clearly an overachiever, who worked hard to get accepted to Morning Glory Academy. She also has done research about the school, and she uses the facts that she memorized to wow one of the teachers when she first arrives. But as the story progresses, and it becomes clear that Morning Glory Academy is far from a regular boarding school, Casey is revealed to be far more intelligent, tough, and resourceful than we ever could have guessed.

In the grand tradition of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Morning Glories uses dystopian sci-fi trappings to express some basic truths about being a teenager: high school is a prison, and adults cannot be trusted.

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