Hello and welcome back to Morning Glory Academy Study Hall! In this column, MC contributor (and TV Overmind writer/FuckYeahLost’s head honcho) Crit Obara and I sit down and analyze the latest issue of Morning Glories. It’s been a bit of a wait, but finally we have the 11th issue, starring the incorrigible, the dastardly, your favorite anti-Glory: the one and only Ike! And we can almost assure you that no matter what you think of him when you enter the issue, it won’t be the same as what you’re thinking when it’s all said and done.
So join Crit and I after the cut as we discuss the issue, it’s story and possible hidden secrets that we may or may not be picking up on. We should also note: this discussion contains massive spoilers for the issue. Colossal. Ginormous, even. The issue is out today, so make sure to read it first before you read our thoughts. It helps to give the issue a few read throughs before coming to us, but consider this your warning about impending spoilers.
As always, our very lovely/supremely awesome column header was designed by the graphic designer for the actual book, Tim Daniel! For more of Tim’s work, please visit his site Hidden Robot. Many thanks to Tim for being fantastically awesome and providing it to us.
Hello, and welcome to Study Hall! Crit is away on vacation this week so we unfortunately did not get to chat, but he did e-mail me all of his notes! So this week’s Study Hall, instead of being a back and forth between the two of us, will be annotations of the entire issue written by myself and combining both of our efforts.
So let’s begin!
We open in the past with Ike standing over the bloody body of a man. Although it is never explicitly stated otherwise, it is assumed (and later implied) that this is Ike’s father. The last we heard about Ike and his father was issue #1, in which his mother asks him if he actually murdered his father – a question that Ike ignores. As Ike sits, staring at the man he admits to killing, our friendly new character Abraham shows up, who seems to have been planning this murder with Ike. It would be reasonable to assume that whoever is dead here is, in some way, in opposition to Abraham’s plans – whether this is Ike’s actual father or not is of course yet to be seen/revealed.
Abraham reminds Ike that they need to “stick to the plan”, ushering Ike out of the room and reminding Ike that he is now in control of the company his father ran (which is the first subtle implication that the body could be his father, although not a flat out statement). Abraham tells Ike that he will take care of everything, and that Ike “knows what to do,” which is a subtle hint at something to be discussed later. We do, however, begin questioning the whole endeavor. It seems that Ike and this man on the floor (his supposed father) are in some way linked to Morning Glory Academy, and that Abraham needs this issue “fixed” for an unknown reason, going so far as to convince a child to commit murder – so what could the reason be? We’ve seen Abraham briefly interfere with other character’s lives with the Hunter and Zoe issue, but it stands to reason after the Jun issue (#9) that Abraham is purposefully making sure these kids make it to the school. It is also notable that Ike, throughout all of the adventures so far, has always been the most calm and complacent with their reality, as if he knew something the other didn’t (in the same way that Jun knew more than we gave him credit for before issue #9). With Abraham and Ike now face to face, we can put Ike in the column of two characters that knew about the school’s mystery before the book began. Supposedly, anywayContinued below
I’d also like to call attention to the license plate of the car: MVC10s. This, in a rather exciting turn of events, is a reference to this very site and this very column – Multiversity Comics, and 10 Study (Halls), as that is the number of Study Halls we had completed at the time this issue was being put together. So a big thanks to Joe for throwing the shoutout in there!
We now go back to the present. As we learned last issue, Ike has been put up in a swanky penthouse suite, and Gribbs has arrived to wake him from a night of partying. After greeting Ike’s new friends Chelsea, Rachel, and Paige (can’t find any significance to the names, although this could just be Nick giving the characters names of his friends as a playful easter egg or something like that), Gribbs summons Ike from his new quarters, claiming that he has “use for him”, which we will learn more of soon. It’s somewhat humorous to note that Ike is underage (a point I will bring up throughout this entire column), yet the school is willfully supplying him booze and girls in order to keep him complacent, which is certainly odd behavior for an academic institution to encourage. Nevertheless, Gribbs leads Ike outside to offer him, in his own words, a new deal (which could be – but most likely isn’t – a humorous nod to Dwight D. Eisenhower and his own famous New Deal). However, as we see throughout the entire sequence, Ike doesn’t take any of this seriously, responding to every serious remark Gribbs makes with a joke or sassy bit of commentary. Gribbs shrugs it off as Ike just trying to get attention, and it’s at this point that Gribbs confirms what we had all been thinking: that Ike has allegedly killed his own father.
We flashback quickly to Ike being convicted of the murder of his father before quickly being acquitted upon arrival of Ike’s lawyer, Mr. Brantley (which could either be a reference to actual practicing car accident attorney Phillip Brantley or perhaps a character from the popular children’s television series, Barney, played by Steve Jones– neither of which seem likely, and it has been confirmed to me by Joe Eisma himself that Mr. Brantley is modeled after Joe Eisma’s father-in-law, who coincidentally is an attorney (although he’s not named Mr. Brantley)). Brantley wants Ike to return home to relax and mourn, but Ike has other plans that include a visit to his father’s already-in-progress funeral. The scene is noteworthy for Ike’s mention of having to make a pit-stop, which upon understanding the ending could actually somehow refer to part of Abraham’s “plan”, if we are to believe that Abraham left Ike a specific set of instructions of what to do once the murder was finished. It’s also worth noting that this issue, just like the Zoe and Hunter issue, has a strong influence from the television show LOST and it’s use of flashbacks to illuminate elements of the present, in this case telling the story of Ike and his (allegedly) murdered father.
We return to the present. Gribbs informs Ike that beyond the gate they now stand infront of, there is another gate, and past that a third. Gribbs is telling Ike that if he performs a task (specifically, Gribbs wants Ike to “kill someone”), that Ike will be released from the school, in a similar fashion to how someone would be released from prison. If we read further into this whole gate thing, however, it could also possibly maybe be one of two things: it could either be Gribbs simply reminding Ike that it is very difficult to get out of the school (because theoretically there could be more than what he mentioned), or it could be a direct reference to there being three specific gates to get in and out of the school. With the knowledge of three gates, we can consider two more things: the Three Gates to Hell and the Three Gates of Buddhism.Continued below
If it is the Three Gates to Hell, then it is a reference to a) the school being Hell, which is a grand possibility given that we’ve seen the ground open up to a firey pit of doom and b) the Bhagavad Gita, which states that the Three Gates to Hell (or, the three things that will get you a residence in the firey pit of damnation) are desire, greed, and anger – all of which we’ve seen our characters experience during this series, and all of which fit to what we supposedly know about Ike.
If it is the Three Gates of Buddhism, then the reference is infinitely more subtle. The story behind the Three Gates of Buddhism is as follows: Lu Hsi-sheng is visting Yang-shan, a Ch’an master, but Lu Hsi-Sheng doesn’t know which gate of the monastery to enter. When he asks, Yang-shan informs him to go through the Gate of Faith. When he inquires further, he is informed that the other gates are the Gate of Wisdom, and one is the Gate of Compassion. While what I don’t know what this could be inreference to, it’s worth mentioning that Morning Glories has referenced Asian culture before (on purpose or not is up in the air), and that if Morning Glory Academy isn’t really the villain, as they certainly don’t believe they are, then it would stand to reason that upon entering the school, one is granted Wisdom and Compassion as a reward for Faith. Maybe.
Granted, the connection here is tenuous at best, and the Gates of Buddhism reference is far less likely than the Gates to Hell connection, but it is worth mentioning.
One final element of this scene worth mentioning is that, based on what we know of Ike, being offered to leave doesn’t seem like something he cares for even if he says otherwise. As Zoe will mention later in the issue, Ike seems to want to be at the school. The reason for this could simply be because Ike has no one on the outside, or it could be in connection to Abraham’s mysterious plans/purpose, but either way Ike seems skeptical and put-off by Gribbs’ offer. It’s also worth nothing that Gribbs clearly isn’t even pretending that Ike is a student, going so far as to fully acknowledge that Ike is somewhat in a prison, calling him a potential “free man.” Seems bad for morale.
We now flashback to Ike’s father’s funeral. It’s interesting to note that this is a Jewish funeral, as evident by the yarmulkes and the man leading the service not being a priest. It’s also actually a clue as to who Ike and his father are – one that is both incredibly subtle and infinitely on-the-nose obvious when you finish the issue (I am assuming anyone reading this article knows the end, but if the book isn’t going to reveal information until the end then I’ll save certain things for the end of the column too – and believe me, I have a note or two). Ike arrives in a double-decker party bus decked out with dancing girls and a banner that reads “The Dick Is Dead, Long Live The Dick.” The reference here is obvious, I believe, but just in case: it’s a take on the classic saying “The King/Queen Is Dead, Long Live The King/Queen”, which is to say that the old rule is gone, but let’s praise the new rule before s/he starts to get on his/her good side. The humor of this scene is that Ike, intentionally or not, is calling himself a dick – which at least makes me laugh.
Ike proceeds to call out the people at his father’s funeral, referencing the politicians, executives, and lawyers who are there to remember his father, all of whom are crooked. He also takes a moment to call out his mother, whom his father was apparently unfaithful to. It’s interesting that so many important people are here to remember his father, as it is never actually stated what Ike’s father did, nor what company Ike has inherited. It’s also curious that Ike would have a problem with “illegal animal testing,” because given Ike’s dark hobbies that we learned about in issue #1, things being done to animals seem like the least of his concern (although he could just be trying to out them in a crowd of people with different moral values). Ike’s mother attempts to admonish his behavior (which – again – includes underage drinking!), but outside of patronizing her, he refers to her as Cynthia (which is something that should be written down in your notes). Cynthia tells Ike that his father would want him to stop wasting his life, which implies that Ike’s ridiculous behavior has been going on for quite some time (which would stand up with her description of him back in issue #1), and he replies “Oh, I highly doubt that,” before making a joke (again, keep that line in mind for the last page reveal). Ike also refers to not knowing his father very well, which seems odd based on later information (or, also known as “a lie”).Continued below
Back in the present, Ike tries to make small talk with his previous friends, the Glories. He visits the boys, which quickly results in Jun threatening to kill Ike and calling him a traitor – despite both having a great connection to the mysterious Abraham. Neither Ike nor Jun are aware of their relation as agents of his design (let alone anyone else). We also get a replay of the scene from #10 (which we’ve discussed before) in which Ike talks with Jade, with the only major difference here being that we get to see the aftermath of the scene and a different look at a lingering glance between Ike and Jade (a supposed hint of a relationship to come, which we also greatly discussed in issue #10).
Back once more to the past, Ike crashes the board meeting of his company being run by Mr. Hank Hobbs (can’t find any great name-related connection there). Hobbs wants to sell the company, assumedly to get it away from Ike, but Ike asserts his dominance and forbids it, getting Hobbs dragged out of the room by security while kicking and screaming. Ike also reveals that he had an alibi for the murder, which involved a sex tape and Mr. Hobbs’ daughters. The flashback ends with Ike kicking his feet up and saying, “Let’s talk about the future,” which seems like a subtle nod to the popular MGA slogan, “For a Better Future”, which appears at least once per issue in the background.
We’re given a brief page in which Ike talks with Zoe back in the present, who asserts the earlier point that Ike doesn’t really want to leave Morning Glory Academy, specifically because he has nothing to go home to. Zoe also teases Ike, citing that she thought she would be the most hated member of their makeshift group (which, curiously enough, no one ever really questions; shouldn’t they be trying harder to make more friends? You know, besides the time Zoe tried out for cheerleading) and referring to him as an asshole like Reggie from the Achie gang while she herself is Veronica, who can be a bitch but “at least everyone wants to fuck (her)” (which is a particularly odd moment because it reminds me that Morning Glories is a comic not afraid to swear, but is occasionally censored – “fuck” isn’t bleeped out here, but earlier when Casey screams at Ike the curse words are bleeped out; the best theoretical explanation that I can come up with for this, besides it just being an error, is that maybe around Jade certain things are censored, as in she literally can’t hear them? … no, that doesn’t make sense). Zoe also alludes to having a “sense” about things, which could be a connection to the psychic powers we’ve hypothetically attributed to her having back in issue #7.
Once more we flash back to the past, this time featuring Ike – still underage – at a bar. Ike is brought in by a man who has cameraphone images placing Ike near the crimescene where his father was murdered, thus rendering his alibi a fake. Ike attempts to pay the man off, not just as a form of extortion but rather to convince the man to get away before something bad happens. Ike seems borderline nervous in the scene, telling the man “you have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into.” The man is confused, but ends up choking on what we can assume is some kind of poison put in his drink. Ike steals the phone and rushes out of the bar before anyone can place him, but the whole scene changes things slightly: why would whatever happened at the beginning of the issue be so dangerous to the point that anyone who knows about the murder has to die? What is so curious about this murder that makes the cover-up so intense? And what element of it is out of Ike’s control here? Just what is Abraham doing, if he is doing anything at all?Continued below
Now we remain in the present for the rest of the issue. Ike returns to Gribbs (with the “For A Better Future” poster behind him) to decline the offer. Gribbs instead refers him to talk to Ms. Daramount, who reveals her first name as Georgina and proceeds to seduce and butter him up a bit in order to win him over. It is also mentioned that Daramount had a lot of faith in Ike, which ties back to issue #2 when Daramount and Gribbs discussed their favorite students and Daramount named Ike as hers (which Gribbs thought typical). Daramount uses the power of the school (as well as body language) to seduce Ike, telling him, “If you only knew the power of this place. The wonder of it. What it can do to a person, body AND soul.” This could possibly be a hint to her uncanny ability to survive explosions without so much as a scratch on her.
As an additional humorous behind-the-scenes story, Joe apparently asked Nick back on issue 9 if he could draw Daramount with her hair down in order to do something different, and Nick refused, adding that he had something specific in mind for that but not telling him what. Makes sense now that we see it!
Ike leaves the room and locks the door behind him – an action which seems curious to me, but I think it is mainly done for humor purposes – saying that he’ll gladly kill whoever needs to be killed. Gribbs leads Ike down to a dark and dreary dungeon-esque place, confirming with Ike that Ike did indeed kill his father. Ike seems flustered at the question, saying yes, “but we were never very close,” before Gribbs smiles, telling Ike he’ll get to do it again. He opens a large dungeon door and reveals Abraham in chains in the basement of the school. Ike frowns and says, “Hello, father” – and the rest of us get to be shocked.
So there you have it. Abraham is Ike’s father. All of a sudden, the dialogue of the opening scene makes much more sense, especially in Ike asking what to do in relation to his mother (and Ike calling his mother Cynthia matches up with calling his father Abraham instead of “dad” or something). What doesn’t make sense anymore is everything else – who was that body? It would appear that whoever that body was, it was either in close enough appearance to Abraham to pass as a double (or, if our theory about clones are true, it could be a clone), or the face was messed up beyond recognition that the real Abraham could “fix it” to look like it was he who had died. The implication through the opening scene nowis that Ike is possibly knowledgable about the greater mysteries of the series, and that it was decided the death of his father and Ike’s subsequent delinquent behavior is all an act to cover up the family goals (the line “What about mother? How will I-” is key). However, we also know that Ike had been a bit of a brat before this happened, so it is also entirely possible that Abraham just used his son to his best advantage. Ike’s personality is in question in this issue now, because his socialite behavior could either be an act or just instructions from Abraham of what to do when Abraham “died” so that Abraham can go do… something. What the goals of Abraham are are unknown at this time, but we’re still leaning towards the destruction of the school.
It’s also important to note Abraham’s outfit in the beginning. Ike dons a similar outfit later in the issue with the scarf, which was – as confirmed by Joe Eisma to us – a subtle visual clue that Ike is following in Abraham’s footsteps due to their relationship.Continued below
The questions don’t stop there, though. If Abraham is Ike’s father, then what does that mean in relation to Abraham’s job as a business leader? Why did he abandon that world? If we are to assume that Abraham is an enemy to the school and that he has some sort of grandiose plan at work here, to what extent does that company have in play towards his endgame? And how did Abraham end up in chains in the dungeon?
In addition to that, knowing that Abraham is Ike’s father we can now discuss one last thing: their names. We’ve discussed the name Abraham before, but Ike is a Hebrew name (remember the Jewish funeral?) which means “laughter.” It’s also a nickname for Isaac (still Hebrew). There’s also this quite famous biblical story you may have heard of, reffered to as “The Binding of Isaac” and starring – you guessed it – Abraham and his son Isaac. In this story, Abraham is told by God to sacrifice his son. Right before Isaac is sacrified, an angel of God stops Abraham, saying “now I know you fear God.” So instead of sacrificing his son, Abraham sacrifices a ram. This seems to connect with Morning Glories in three ways now: 1) the characters of Ike and Abraham being father and son, 2) the ram being the school mascot (seen in issue #7), and 3) the strange orientation video in issue #1(see: image to the right) in which we see a father and son walking with a goat as well as a father killing a goat in front of his son – which really, given the possibilities of this series, could quite literally be Abraham and Ike, albeit in a different life (or something). It is also a possible illumination for Abraham’s greater plan, which leaves us to assume that maybe God has told him to act against Morning Glory Academy in some way – assuming his plan is to destroy the school as we had assumed.
So if we stick to the “Binding” story, Gribbs is God here, seeing if Ike could/would kill Abraham in a twisted reverse of the original tale. This lets Gribbs know if Ike will blindly follow orders and preach the doctrine of Morning Glory Academy. You know, assuming that this whole Ike killing Abraham thing isn’t a stunt to reveal that Abraham is actually the heHdmaster, and they (Gribbs and Abraham?) are using this stunt to see if Ike would kill Abraham because he was told to, until “an angel” tells him to stop (…Jade?) and the school mascot gets killed instead. I don’t know, but it’s possible! Either way, somebody better warn that ram.
So ends this month’s edition of Study Hall! Curiously and notably enough, it should be mentioned that the next issue of the series deals with the faculty rather than the one Glory who has had only guest starring roles throughout all the issues: Casey. After getting a starring role in the first arc, Spencer and Eisma are spending curiously little time on her now. However, we’ve often discussed her role in the previous issues, especially in connection to Daramount. Given that Daramount will assumedly have a major role in the next issue, it is not entirely impossible to believe that perhaps some light will be given to Casey and her future/past. Either way, we’ll see if we get to find out the end of this scene and/or exactly how dead or alive Jade is post-flashing through time/reality.