MGA Study Hall: Issue #13

By and | October 12th, 2011
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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.

In today’s edition of Study Hall, Crit and I tackle the 13th issue, the beginning of a brand new arc entitled “P.E.” We thought things were tough to figure out before, but figured it couldn’t get that much tougher, right? Wrong. We were wrong. Things get much tougher.

So join Crit and I after the cut as we discuss the issue, its 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 and be on the lookout for Tim’s upcoming comic debut, Enormous! Many thanks to Tim for being fantastically awesome and providing it to us.

Previous issues: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6#7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12

Previous audio podcasts: second arc interviews, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, second arc wrap-up

Matthew Meylikhov: Hello and welcome to Study Hall! After a lot of audio podcasts bombarding your iTunes accounts, Crit and I are back for some good old fashioned readable commentary and annotations. Crit, greet the audience!

Crit Obara: Hello, audience!

MM: We have quite an issue before us today, don’t we, Critter?

CO: Boy howdy, we sure do.

MM: Before we begin, what was your initial reaction to the issue?

CO: As I was reading through it, I liked that it seemed to be different from all the other issues. The Woodrun game was intriguing and unexpected, and the last few pages were pretty insane.

MM: My immediate reaction was: “This Study Hall is going to be… oy vey. OY VEY.”

CO: Accurate!

MM: Well, without further ado, let’s get right into it then. This issue opens up in Casey’s past as she spars with her father. We’d noted multiple times in the past that in the last arc that, while we had seen a lot of stuff about the other kid’s pasts, we had seen nothing of Casey’s. Looks like Nick and Joe decided to knock that request out right off the bat.

CO: Yup. We’re taken to Schaumburg, Illinois and meet her parents, Dan and Kath. Well, re-meet, anyway.

MM: Casey’s father is teaching her to box. This one scene is somewhat foreshadowing of the ending, what with his Marines shirt. My initial reaction to seeing that was, “Don’t usually only people with actual involvement in the military where these kind of t-shirts?” And then, well… go me! Although that’s jumping ahead a bit.

CO: Ah, I see what you’re saying. Yes.

MM: I think it’s interesting that Dan is training her to be a fighter, given what we know of Casey’s future from this point. He has apparently taught her how to hunt, how to hike, now how to box — is it possible he knows she needs to know these things?

CO: Certainly could be. We’ve talked about time loops before, so sure it’s possbile.

MM: Time loops? How so in this instance?

CO: I mean, it’s out there, but if he knew somehow that in the future she’d need those skills, it could explain why he’s teaching her. But then again, maybe he just wanted his daughter to know these things no matter what.

Continued below

MM: …You know, given the ending of the issue, that doesn’t seem too far off. But I think that is jumping TOO far ahead though, so let’s file that note away for our discussion of the final page.

CO: Anything else you want to add about the scene in Illinois?

MM: Yes. There is an elephant in the room we need to discuss, Crit.

CO: What’s that?

MM: Their last name: Blevins. This might shock readers, but Crit and I are actually very good friends with someone whose last name is Bevins. Bevins… Blevins… Crit, what do you think this means?!

CO: Clearly our friend Mr. Bevins has been the key all along!

MM: OH, I like to laugh. As we move on, we return to present day at Morning Glory Academy, picking up at a scene from issue #10.

CO: Hunter is apologizing to Casey about being late for their date, who is very calmly mentioning that crazy stuff happens all the time all around them.

MM: These are the exact two pages from issue #10, so this both gives us a timeline for when this happens as well as complicates things a little bit, especially because we thought we knew what happened after this scene — Jade goes to class with Casey, and then hangs herself. Now it seems that this is not entirely true… or is it?

CO: It sure seems like that’s not what’s going on, but I’m not sure.

MM: It’s kind of hard to tell, honestly. It would seem that time has passed in between then and now , but the question is how much. Unless our copy is missing something that says, like, “a week later…”, we definitely have clashes following Hunter here. Specifically that Hunter returns to his room to find that Ike is moving back in. Yet, last we saw Ike in our previously assumed notions of the story timeline, he had a fancy new suite, and there was a scene that corresponded between issues #10 and #11 that gives me a timeline mix-up in my headspace.

CO: As a side note, I love Hunter’s facial expression after Casey says that they should just be friends. He seems perfectly upset and distant. Nice work on that. But yeah, in my notes I wrote, “Ike moving back in??”

MM: Let’s try and clarify a bit. I had originally assumed that this issue takes place after issue 12. Am I correct in assuming you did too?

CO: Yes, I was thinking that.

MM: And am I correct in assuming that you, like me, had assumed that issue #10 and #11 take place at the same time, with both taking place before #12?

CO: I’m trying to think here… but yes, I believe so. Adds up.

MM: So, Hunter yelling at Zoe, Ike moving back in and all the following scenes all take place AFTER #12, but that one scene with Casey and Hunter and Jade takes place during #10, which takes place before #12. Do I have this… “right”, I guess?

CO: I think so! I had to read that a few times, but yes.

MM: Ok. Then I’m willing to admit that I’m lost in the timeline. The re-use of the issue #10 scene could just be to remind readers of what happened, but it definitely threw me off balance. I will note to the readers that Crit and I are reading a PDF advance of the issue before the print version of issue hits stands, so it is highly possible that we do not have the finalized version. However, I do want to say that without a note saying “a week later” or something after Hunter leaves Casey’s room, this whole timeline thing is a bit confusing.

CO: I think anyone reading will understand, and may be scratching their heads as well. Perhaps what you said is right, but if not, hopefully someone will leave a comment and share their order of things.

MM: It wouldn’t be too out of place to have Hunter still upset a week or so after getting rejected. But, moving on from this, we get to see Hunter have a bit of a meltdown against Zoe in the hallway. What did you make of this scene, Crit?

Continued below

CO: I liked it a lot. It seemed like he was just about to burst, and having Zoe talk down to him like that really just set him off.

MM: I love that we’re supposed to view these kids as a “clique”, but they just keep clashing throughout the story. Ike makes everyone mad, Jun is stand-offish to all but Hunter, Jade freaks everyone out, and now Zoe sets Hunter off. It’s hard to imagine these kids getting along. However, after we see which three kids end up on one team for the Woodrun later, it’ll be amusing to see Zoe and Hunter have to get along.

CO: Maybe they’ll all end up in detention with their clashing personalities and have a wonderful day together. Someone should make a movie about that…

MM: That sounds like a film I watched, actually!

CO: I think you’re lying!

MM: No, seriously. Saw II. IMDB it.

CO: Oh, yes. I looked it up. Sounds about right!

MM: So Hunter comes back to his room to find Ike moving back in, assumedly because he didn’t go through with killing Abraham and has lost his suite privileges. Am I correct in assuming this?

CO: I would say so, yes.

MM: Jun and Hunter seem to derive quite the amount of pleasure from watching Ike humble himself like this. How about you?

CO: I enjoyed the scene, and the looks on Ike’s face were priceless. I like that all he says in the whole scene is “Hunter,” and when he said it, I could just hear how condescending it must have sounded.

MM: I must say — Joe is great at facial expressions, and Hunter’s happy face in the last panel of this scene is priceless.

CO: Definitely.

MM: So now we go back to Jade and Casey Jade appears to be getting dressed post-shower scene from earlier (which takes place back in Issue #10 and confuses us now), and Casey Blevins gets a mysterious visit.

Also of note: the whiteboard on their front door reads PAMELA and “Hi Jader Paders!” I laughed.

CO: Haha. Oh, Pamela, you are truly terrifying.

MM: So our nameless new student brings a letter from Miss Hodge, telling Casey that she needs to be somewhere, although we’re not told that yet. It also further confirms that this takes place after issue #12, but I want to stop dwelling on that. Casey mentions while reading the letter that “he” just left, which we later learn is in reference to Hunter, although I don’t remember it ever being overtly stated.

CO: No, it wasn’t, which had me wondering for a bit.

MM: I was confused at first, but it all makes sense given later events in the issue.

CO: Indeed. I read back a page to see if there was something that said I should know who she meant, but alas, there was not, but it’ll be cleared up later! Casey decides to make a run for it — at least, she does until she hears that Woodrun is about to happen.

MM: WOODRUN! What is Woodrun?

CO: I’m not entirely sure, but it means going outside and using maps to get through the woods. What do you think the purpose of it is, besides something outside?

MM: My initial thought was The Most Dangerous Game, if you understand the reference.

CO: I recognized the name, but I just Googled it and see now how it could be related. “‘The Most Dangerous Game’ features as its main character a big-game hunter from New York, who falls off a yacht and swims to an isolated island in the Caribbean, where he is hunted by a Cossack aristocrat. The story is an inversion of the big-game hunting safaris in Africa and South America that were fashionable among wealthy Americans in the 1920s.”

MM: That’s the one! Humans hunting other humans! So, teachers hunting students?

CO: Maybe! Now THAT would be something, eh?

MM: Wouldn’t be THAT far off, I don’t think! But I imagine we won’t see anything on what Woodrun actually is for another issue or two.

Continued below

CO: I am just glad I wasn’t playing!

MM: So after being pushed outside with the crowd by campus security, Jade and Casey spy Hunter, only for him to run away. Poor Hunter. He clearly doesn’t take rejection well. But hey, who hasn’t been in that scenario? Getting rejected by some girl you like only for her to show up soon after claiming she knows how to save your life and help you escape from a prison-like high school….. ah, memories.

CO: Yeah! I totally know what you — wait…what?

MM: So Ike interrupts Casey and asks her for a moment of her time! Casey mentions her avid distaste for him and threatens him with another swift knee to the groin, but what do you think Ike was going to ask her about, Crit?

CO: Considering he’s just coming back now, he’s gotta be curious about what’s been going on since he left, and what everyone might think about where he’d been.

MM: I was actually assuming it was a bit more intense than that. Given Ike’s run-in with his father recently, I was kind of assuming he might be asking Casey for her help in his situation since she is the most vocally against the institution.

CO: That sounds like a good reason.

MM: We also have the triumphant return of Miss Dagney, who was absent from the entire last arc! Did you miss her at all, Crit?

CO: I just didn’t know what to do without her!

MM: She’s grouping the kids into threes for the Woodrun, as those make up the teams. Simply putting a sticker that says 1, 2 or 3 on a shirt seems like an odd way to have kids remember their groups, though!

CO: I thought so too. I thought it’d be easier to give out 3 #1’s, 3 #2’s, etc, and then tell them that was their team number.

MM: Yeah, exactly. My thoughts precisely, sir! But here is something odd about the scene that I can’t tell if it is intentional or not: all the kids in the background, or at least 99% of them, are smiling.

CO: I just scrolled through and it’s true. Interesting.

MM: I asked Joe and Nick recently on our audio podcast special edition of Study Hall what the other kids think of the school, and neither of them gave me a direct answer. These kids are under constant threat for their lives every day assumedly, yet they all seem generally happy to be at school and excited for Woodrun.

CO: That’s an interesting question and their answer is even more interesting. I wonder if the other kids know just what it consists of. I feel like it’s possible that people have gone out for Woodrun and not come back in the past.

MM: If it is the Most Dangerous Game, that would seem a likely occurrence!

CO: Indeed. Scary thought.

MM: So Casey, Jade and Ike all end up on the same team. I’d say that it is fairly obvious Jun, Hunter and Zoe will be on the same team, too. And while our kids are changing, Jade and Casey happen to miss the Reading Of The Rules (which we might see in the next issue, might not). So we have no idea what the Woodrun is or why they have to do it, but Casey has no interest in participating.

CO: She has a better idea. Which might not turn out to actually be a better idea. Maybe.

MM: Ike got them a map, though, so it appears he knows what Woodrun is — he’s just not sharing it. He also found Hunter for Casey, which we might see in the next issue as I am assuming that issue #14 doesn’t pick up where this issue leaves, and after a quick Star Wars reference (that HE would appreciate but Casey doesn’t understand), he once again tries to ask Casey for help, which she brushes off. She clearly has a mission for this issue, and she needs Jade and Hunter for it. Unfortunately she has to settle for Ike, which might prove useful, if only for a related-but-not-related reason (which I have a theory on later).

Continued below

CO: Aw yeah, I can’t wait for your theory time!

MM: Do you have any additional thoughts before we move on to the more confusing bits?

CO: I’m ready for the confusing bits!

MM: So Casey leads Jade and Ike via the map Ike got them to a location… that will help them escape. Shock!

CO: It can’t be that easy… right?

MM: It never is. Casey leads them to a barred gate, which leads to a tunnel, which leads to the most peculiar cave. In the cave burns a giant fire that is surrounded by four statues, two of which are of some form of winged demons, and two of which appear to be bodies in the fire. Thoughts?

CO: My thoughts are: 1, Page 24 is gorgeous. 2, WTF?

MM: What do you think the statues are?

CO: I’m not sure about the statues. The two in the fire could be older students? That’s just a crazy guess. I was more wondering about this great fire, and the cave itself. What’s the purpose of it? I know we’ll see something happen in a few pages, but man, this is weird.

MM: Well, my thoughts on the fire, originally, were based on just the words “the eternal flame.” First thing I thought of for whatever reason, and this could be a reference to two things. One, it could be the flame that burned at Delphi, which is where the Oracles in Greek mythology were as well as the prophetic Delphic Sibyl. I’m sure you’ve heard of references to the Oracles at Delphi.

CO: Yes.

MM: The second reference could be to Judaism and the Menorah, a seven-branched candelabra, which was built and overseen by Moses for the Israelite Tabernacle as a conduit for a continuous burning flame. Given the sort of poly-religious allegories in Morning Glories, a new reference to Judaism wouldn’t seem out of place, especially since the ever burning flame was assimilated into other religions later. We’ve also had frequent references to flame in the book in general, especially by and/or to Casey, so just having a giant fire now seems fairly apt.

CO: Nice work.

MM: I suppose, as a last second thought as well, that the flame could possibly represent a figurative or literal door to Hell? I mean, with statues of people burning and demons watching over it, it could be a representation of an entrance to Hell or something.

CO: Absolutely. It sounds very Hell/underworld-ish.

MM: We had theories about Morning Glory Academy and it’s relation to Hell back in issue #5 as well.

CO: Indeed, when the hole opened up in the Earth and it was all fire.

MM: Exactly. So they move into the cave, and Jade notices that her shadow is moving on its own. …Thoughts?

CO: Honestly, no. I got nothin’ on that one.

MM: I have some thoughts!

CO: Go!

MM: Let it be said that Google is both my best friend and my worst enemy. I made the attempt of looking up “famous cave theories” in Google (literally — that was my exact search), and I came across two things. The first result was “cave painting,” which wasn’t that interesting. It was just about “oohh, who painted all these caves?!?!” The second option was “Plato.” as in, the Greek philosopher, which didn’t seem to make sense. Curious, I clicked the link to Plato’s Wikipedia page and CTRL+F’d “cave”, only to find Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Have you ever heard of this, Crit?

CO: Ah yes, I have.

MM: I can’t fully explain the connection between Plato’s Allegory and what we see in the comic, but I feel I’m on the right path here. Basically, Plato’s allegory is this: Plato wrote a fictional dialogue between his teacher Socrates and his brother in Plato’s famous work, The Republic. In this dialogue, Socrates talks about a group of people (prisoners) who have lived chained to a wall in a cave for their entire lives facing a blank wall. These people spend their lives watching shadows projected on a wall by things passing in front of a fire behind the prisoners, and these prisoners chained to the wall begin to ascribe form and meaning to these shadows. The shadows are as close as these chained-up prisoners get to viewing actual reality, and Plato uses this allegory to explain how a philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and has come to understand that these shadows they have seen aren’t actual reality, since now he can perceive the true form of reality rather than just shadows. Thus, it is the philosopher’s job to enlighten metaphorical “prisoners.”

Continued below

Now: I can’t fully explain how this exactly correlates to our current cave situation, but it is rather notable that a few things match up. We have a giant fire reflecting shadows on a blank wall that the students, who we have referred to as prisoners of the school (they are trying to ESCAPE, after all), are viewing and attempting to create a rational explanation for. We now need someone who can interpret the truth for them, which I suppose would ostensibly be Nick and/or Joe. While their shadows moving on their own doesn’t fully match up to the Plato allegory, we have seen reality being warped in the past, and it is a constant question in the book of what is real and what is not.

…Have I gone too far?

CO: I don’t think so. It started to go too far at one point I think, but that last bit brought it back.

MM: Hahaha, I caught myself?

CO: I think so!

MM: Granted, I don’t have TOO much of a leg to stand on, and I’m fully admitting I sometimes let my Google searches get the best of me (remember my 3 Gates theory?). But what happens next seems to help validate the idea of what the Plato Allegory and the perception of reality. It’s either that, or the shadows are a reference to Peter Pan, which I think is less likely.

CO: Alrighty then. So Ms. Hodge arrives in the cave, and she is not happy because Casey didn’t get the right person (Hunter) to come.

MM: She has a great opening line, too. Casey questions the reality of a giant fire and the shadows it casts, claiming it is probably a man-made optical illusion (science vs faith!), and Jade asks why someone would build a device like this. Ms. Hodge comes in with, “BECAUSE GOD HAS A SENSE OF HUMOR.”

CO: Nice.

MM: What do you think she means by that, if anything?

CO: If we’re thinking in terms of Hell, it might be funny to have these grand statues and crazy shadows as the last thing you ever see on the way to Hell.

MM: Because God is a bit of a jerk?

CO: I would say so, haha.

MM: Do we have any idea of who “God” is?

CO: Headmaster, maybe?

MM: Works for me.

So Hodge is a bit pissed about Ike being here. She even yells at him not to speak when he attempts to introduce himself. Ike had never met Hodge before, as when she approached him in issue #12 she ended up not saying a word to him at all. Why do you think she doesn’t even want him to speak now?

CO: I don’t think she likes him. Could it have something to do with the way he was treated like royalty earlier? She might not like the way the other staff handled him in that regard.

MM: Well, when last she saw him, she said something like, “he’s not ready,” or, “not yet,” and looked sad, even. I feel like there is some form of connection there between the two of them that she is uncomfortable with.

CO: That’s true. Could be some connection there, then.

MM: Hodge and Casey have a little spat because Casey brought the wrong person, and Hodge mentions “Would a little goddamn stability kill you?” What stability do you think Hodge is referring to here?

CO: Is she calling her mentally unstable?

MM: It’s plausible, sure.

CO: What did you think of it?

MM: Not sure. I figured it could be a reference to the ever shifting alliances of the characters that we discussed earlier, how they can’t seem to .. uh, I guess “fit in” is a good term? Like, their previous escape plan went awry, and the kids often act rather erratically as we saw throughout the past arc. They just don’t seem to fully acclimate to their situation in either a positive or negative way.

CO: That could be. It certainly makes sense.

MM: She also mentions that the plan that she has will still work, it’ll just be a “bumpier ride”. I have a thought on that, but we can save it for now. Hodge reveals that only Casey is going to be escaping here, and Casey takes that extremely personal. It’s either her and Jade, or she doesn’t want to do it at all. Given the inherent clique nature of the Glories (whether they admit to it or not), how do you feel about her not really caring too much about the current fate of Zoe, Jun and Hunter? (Although I suppose we know she wants Hunter out, too.)

Continued below

CO: I think it pretty much makes sense. I get a sense of “it’s everyone for themselves” in the book.

MM: That’s fair. There’s no real reason for her to care about Zoe outside of Zoe being her roommate. So Casey is protesting, and Hodge says, quote, “Think about what you’re doing. There are more people’s lives at stake here than just your friends. Think of all the kids imprisoned here. Think about how many people they’ll kill to get what they want — You’re the only one who can stop this.” What do they want? A better future.

CO: I wrote that quote down in my notes as well. Hodge is apparently helping Casey stop MGA from creating this better future they’re always talking about. So now I’m thinking, well, who is that “better future” actually better for? For the world? Maybe not. For the people at this school only? Maybe. And that all goes back to the question we have asked a few times I believe, and that is: what exactly are the ramifications of the goings on of this one school?

MM: I had the same basic thoughts. We had previously guessed that maybe Hodge isn’t the hero we have been waiting for as duality seems rather prevalent in the school and she could be evil for all we know. So this oft discussed “For A Better Future” business — is it perhaps possible, given that we know (i.e. we guess/assume) Jade in the future has some sort of continued purpose at the Academy, that Hodge doesn’t exactly want this “Better Future” to happen? I mean, are Abraham and Hodge the true villains, and does the school actually WANT a BETTER future? Is it not just a creepy slogan?

CO: I wish we knew!

MM: So Jade sticks up for Casey, convincing her to go through with this scheme because Casey will come back and save the day later.

Jade’s “You’ll find me” moment is absolutely wonderful, in my opinion.

CO: What do you think she meant?

MM: Jade has infinite faith in Casey. In issue #10 when Jade woke up, her POV showed Casey as a somewhat Angelic figure. I would guess that Jade is 100% willing to believe that Casey will save them all, and she’ll do whatever she can to help that happen.

CO: I can see that. She has no reason to have faith in anything/anyone else, really.

MM: She knows a little bit about the future too, and I think all signs point to Casey for her. Before they break the party up, Ms. Hodge gives instructions to Jade that she and Ike need to stand in front of the flames and cast shadows on the wall — shadows that keep moving. And if you look at the panels, this is very true. In one panel, Jade’s shadow appears to be waving its arms in the air as she looks at it, and in the next it appears to be posing in a somewhat sultry fashion (which means in the previous panel, the shadow could theoretically have been running it’s fingers through its hair). Not quite sure why the shadow would go the sexy pose route, other than to possibly be sneaky and/or rude.

CO: Hahaha. Alright!

MM: I guess I’m the only one who noticed that? Fair enough. So Casey and Hodge go down to these “chairs”, which don’t really look at all like chairs, and sit down in front of them, with Hodge saying “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads,” the second reference that Casey doesn’t get but HE (Hunter) would have appreciated. (The reference being to Back To The Future, of course.)

CO: Of course! Casey looks up at Jade but can’t hear her anymore, to which Hodge responds that Jade is too far. “She’s right up there,” says Casey. “No she isn’t,” says Hodge. Was Hodge just saying that to get her to sit down, or did something weird happen to the two up there when they went down the stairs do you think?

MM: Something definitely happened up there, and I would guess that this is possibly maybe in connection to the perception of reality that I had discussed before with my Plato idea. … Wait a second.

Continued below

HOLY SHIT, Crit! Notice that behind the “chair”, there are chains on the wall! I might actually have something with the Plato cave thing: prisoners chained to the wall force to watch a blank wall with shadows illuminated by a flame!

CO: Woah! I didn’t see those before. Nice.

MM: I didn’t see them either! Sweet deal. I also didn’t notice the line from Casey, “I shouldn’t even be trusting you.” Good call, Casey! So Casey and Hodge, watch the shadows, which I’m now fully convinced has to be related to the Plato thing (it’s far too convenient for it not to be, right?), and start seeing silver streaks. Those silver streaks look familiar, do they not?

CO: They sure do. “What did you see when your eyes were closed?” from issue #3 and #10. It reminded me of that right away.

MM: Exactly! The last time we saw them, we had a bit of time travel from Jade in Issue #10 as she traveled back from the future to her previously confusing place in issue #3. It would appear that in this issue, for some reason, the silver streaks have returned for Casey, so I suppose it’s safe to say that silver streaks equal time travel occuring. Do you have any theories about this before I get my ball rolling?

CO: I don’t, so go ahead!

MM: It took me a few reads of this to develop what I feel is a solid theory, but I would go so far as to say that I have fully figured out the PURPOSE of this scene, if not the exact details.

Casey’s motivation for this entire endeavor is that Hodge has promised her, in an exact quote, “What if I told you I could bring (your parents) back?” Right now, as far as she knows, Casey is going to be escaping the school, but the ultimate goal and the ultimate victory for her is to be reunited with her parents. Casey has a line here before the scene begins: “The sorrows of death compassed me.” This line gave me trouble at first, but then I stopped trying to figure out if this was a typo for “encompassed.” When I started thinking about the verbage here, I figured that there was no accident that Casey says quite specifically “COMPASSED”.

Compassed, as far as my knowledge goes, is a verb that could mean several things. It could mean to surround, it could mean to understand, but what if we took it a bit more literal? If a compass is a device used to determine direction, it doesn’t seem too far off to believe that compassed, as a verb, could mean to direct navigationally.

CO: I see, I see.

MM: So the sorrows, plural, of death — i.e. the death of Casey’s parents — compassed her. Or, in other words, the great amount of grief she feels about her parent’s demise is now going to literally lead her down a path through time.

We noted that the silver streaks were last seen in a moment of time travel, and the following five pages following Casey’s line would support this theory. Immediately after Casey’s line, we are given two pages of five widescreen panels each displaying different moments of TIME.

CO: Right.

MM: We have a war, we have the mysterious bearded lab doctor from issue #10, we have a bathhouse, we have a murder, we have a little girl crying, we have slaves building pyramids in ancient Egypt (which, as an Easter Egg, is the second time Joe has drawn this, with the first being a guest strip in the webcomic Gutters), we have a burning building (assumedly in France, with the street sign being named after artist Nick Pitarra), we have a diner, we have a crowd stoning people, and then we have black.

These are all specific moments in time, but the clue to what it all means is the fifth panel: the little girl crying.

It is WITHOUT A DOUBT in my mind that this is Zoe crying after her father murders her mother as we saw in a flashback in issue #7. That IS what it is. No questions asked, no doubt given. Nick can’t e-mail me and tell me I’m wrong, because I know I’m right. I will bet him ten bucks that this is what it is, and if he tells me that it is not then I will call shenanigans on him, because that is young Zoe as we saw her in issue #7!

Continued below

CO: Well then, there it is!

MM: So, with the knowledge that I am 100% right about this, it becomes quite clear: EACH OF THESE PANELS DEALS WITH THE HISTORY OF THE GLORIES.

CO: I saw some familiar things and thought something along those lines, too.

MM: Good. So I’m not crazy. It is not incredibly overt, but I am positive that this is what it is. We have Zoe in one panel, Jade’s mysterious bearded doctor from her twisted dream sequence — these are the obvious ones. The other ones, less so. A war? An assumedly Greek bathhouse? Not entirely sure how this directly connects to any character. However, we can attach meaning to these scenes. We had seen visual biblical references before, such as in the MGA orientation video and the father/son with the ram. So, thinking on those lines, the slaves in Egypt? Going to give a guess that this in reference to the stories of the Jews in Egypt under enslavement from Ramses before Moses came and did his “let my people go” routine. And the people in the crowd stoning? I hate to get too out there, but if we keep up the religious aspect, it could be people stoning Christ when he marched through the streets of Jerusalem after his arrest. We know that there is a Jewish historical connection with Ike and Abraham; these two things don’t seem too out of place. The Greek bathhouse thing? If I’m not nuts and the Plato Cave is a correct thought, then boom. There you go. Connection. The Hellfire Club looking guys? Similar to the gentleman we saw in Jade’s weird flashback dream/the assumed owner of the monastery-esque building we saw in issue #3 when we first learned “the hour of our release draws near.”

Furthermore, there is an idea that every person alive carries with them, somewhere, their ancestral memories. This idea essentially posits that you and/or I contain within our DNA memories of people who lived thousands of years ago, who shared our genealogy. With the Zoe panel being CLEARLY Zoe, and the mystery beard man clearly being related to Jade, it is possible that this entire scene represents Casey flashing through the varied timelines of our main characters. BOOM.


MM: Thoughts?

CO: I like it. I had nothing there, but I like what you had to say.

MM: Additionally, Joe clued me into the painting present in the fourth panel on the first page, of the man stabbing another man in the back? There is a painting in the background here, and that painting is “Lucifer, King of Hell” by Gustave Dore. So, that basically just plays more into our guesses earlier about the fire and Hell.

CO: Awesome! Let’s wrap this baby up!

MM: So Casey has traveled through time and, just like Jade, she vomits. She ends up in a foreign country (which I think is probably Iraq given what we can assume about the timeline), and she comes face to face with … HER FATHER! Who, as we saw in the beginning of the issue, was foreshadowed to be a former/currently inactive member of the Marines.

CO: And they’re not where they’re supposed to be, according to Hodge.

MM: Right. If all my previous theories are correct, this is probably Casey’s fault. If the sorrow of her parent’s death directed them, then she was the one who brought them to her father in the past. It’s also plausible, and I alluded to this before, that the inclusion of Ike as the “second shadow”, or however we want to refer to this, could have messed up the time travel, because Hodge was pretty specific about needing Hunter. Perhaps Hunter was supposed to be there to help calm Casey and keep her from behaving erratically before they travel through time. (which connects to Hodge’s complaint for consistency). If Ike is causing Casey to be nervous, it could theoretically just screw the whole thing up.

CO: Hodge perhaps could have thought this was a possibility.

MM: Right. It doesn’t seem like a very good escape plan. Travel to the past? Sure. Travel to the past with men pointing guns at you? Not so much.

CO: Indeed.

MM: However, as I mentioned, there is a possible scenario that could result from this. You had mentioned time loops in the beginning of the Study Hall, and I had mentioned an idea popping into my head. If Casey’s dad knows she needs to be trained to be strong, to be a fighter… is it possible that their meeting in the past influenced this? Is Casey going to say, “Dad, you need to remember to teach me how to kick ass when I grow up”?

Continued below

CO: Maybe!

MM: There are many different schools of time travel thought, but if we subscribe to the one that time isn’t a fluid stream but rather a rigid line with specific points on it, it would stand to reason that Casey was always supposed to travel back in time to do … whatever it is she is going to do. Kind of like how the characters of LOST traveled back in time and in turn influenced the DHARMA Initiative without them realizing it.

CO: Yeah, I see the connection there.

MM: As an additional easter egg I can confirm this: two of those soldiers are members of the Multiversity staff. The soldiers to the left and right of Dan Blevins are David Harper and Brandon Burpee, who run Multiversity’s video podcast, 4 Color News and Brews. The duo appeared in Chew running over a former main character, and they’ve now appeared in Morning Glories as well to point guns at Casey! Is there no stopping their madness?

CO: Nice! Well, anything else for this one?

MM: Yes, sir. One last thing. The thought occurred to me earlier, but I forgot to mention it: we’ve seen hints from the book that Jade and Ike are supposed to end up together. Future Jade mentioned it in #10, Ike has stared at her somewhat longingly in #11, and Hodge seems to lightly mention it in this issue as well, when Casey seemed afraid to leave Jade alone with Ike. Do you think that, perhaps, the two of them being left alone together in the cave has anything to do with them possibly maybe getting together? Some personal time to get along and relate resulting in a few smooches by the fire?

CO: I didn’t even think of that, but yes. Definitely. And Hodge seemed very sure that they’d be alright there together.

MM: Well, that wraps it up for me. Anything else from you?

CO: No, sir!

MM: Alrighty then! In that case, this is Crit and Matt signing off for a better a future! Join us in a month as we get into issue #14 to see what happens to Zoe, Jun and Hunter!

CO: Goodnight!

//TAGS | MGA Study Hall

Matthew Meylikhov

Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."


Crit Obara

Crit Obara is a longtime friend of Matthew's. He previously covered LOST for MC, and now co-writes MGA Study Hall. He is the man behind the curtain of and you can follow him on Twitter @crittweets.


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