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 15th issue, chronicalling the continued adventures of our heroes in their new arc, “P.E.” This issue picks up where the last left off, delving more into the history of Zoe and thickening the plot quite a tad. We also find a bunch of easter eggs for you!
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.
Crit Obara: Something inspirational, Crit!
MM: How was your Christmas, Crit? Did you have a happy, merry and/or jolly day?
CO: It was a combination of the three. How has Hanukkah been, Matthew?
MM: It’s been × ×¤×œ×â€Ž.
CO: I hope that means something lovely
MM: Something lovely indeed. So let’s get right into it!
As we return to the world of Morning Glories after what feels like an eternity (which is really just because I hate waiting between issues to read the series), we open a year ago with Zoe, at the end of her previous flashback that we saw back in issue #7. Her and her friend Sarah are standing by the furnace where they burned Mr. Hammond, whom Zoe killed after catching him playing rape games with Sarah (although Zoe didn’t know it was just a game).
CO: And then very quickly, we’re back at Woodrun, and it is pouring.
MM: Right. When we last saw them in the previous issue, the kids playing Woodrun were “lost” from where Morning Glory Academy is due to some unknown twist of fate. Now Zoe is going fairly crazy on the hunt for “her things”, and she is dragging Jun and Hunter along with her. But Jun is looking for something. What do you think that may be?
CO: He’s asked if it’s his brother he thought he saw, but he says it’s someone else. His brother would make sense, who else would?
MM: Either a character we have yet to meet, or Abraham. Or Lara Hodge, I suppose, depending on when this story and Casey’s story lines up? But I would guess more towards Abraham.
CO: That sounds reasonable.
MM: Hunter wants to stage a coup against Zoe due to her insanity, and he drops a nice little Kill Bill reference by saying she’ll go “full Gogo Yubari on us.” Gogo is, of course, Chiaki Kuriyama’s unforgettable character from the first volume of Kill Bill! Only problem is, Jun is tagged with a “skull flag” by a new character, who informs him that now he has to “go to jail”, which is back at campus.Continued below
CO: I didn’t quite get that at first, but then I felt stupid because there’s nothing difficult about it. He’s all done in Woodrun, to prison he goes.
MM: I mean, Woodrun still hasn’t been explained. We have no idea what its purpose is other than being the MGA version of PE. It does seem, however, to be some sort of treasure hunt/capture the flag, and from what I remember, in capture the flag you can be caught and put in “jail.” Then you have to wait around until someone from your team tags you out.
CO: That is correct.
MM: So Woodrun is like capture the flag, except you can die.
CO: Yes. Which makes a very innocent game very…not innocent. I don’t want to play, that’s for sure.
MM: So Zoe is pissed about this (obviously), because she wants her things and wants to boys to help her do it. And, no offense to Hunter, but he’s kind of the “useless” one, all things considered. If anyone could really help the team, it would’ve been Jun.
CO: They really are sitting ducks out there, as is suggested. At least it seems like it. They really all are, probably. Now we go back a year once more, to Zoe once again in public high school hanging out with some friends.
MM: I can fully confirm that the boy standing next to Zoe with the gray t-shirt is none other than the improbably handsome and absolute beast of an artist, Tradd Moore! Tradd is the artist of The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, a book also published by Image, and he is a member of the fictional Image-centric boy band YMAGE (whose shirt he’s wearing as well), which consists of him, Kevin Mellon (Heart artist), Nick Pitarra (Red Wing artist) and Juan Castro (current inker of Snake Eyes for IDW).
CO: A fictional boy band? That sounds amazing! And the conversation inside the school is about the English teacher who is now gone from the school because he had been seeing someone. Someone at the school, that is.
MM: Yes, word travels fast apparently. It sort of begs the question how that information got out.
CO: How DID it get out?
MM: It’s never revealed! But you would imagine either Hammond or Sarah might have said something to someone. Either way, Sarah gets disgusted at the conversation and runs off, with Zoe covering for her by mentioning “girl stuff.” Eww!
CO: Eww is right! Psh, girl stuff.
MM: We flash back to the present and are returned to Zoe having a temper tantrum, with our new character Maggie mentioning “she’s kinda perfect for this place, isn’t she?” Seems a touch bit of possible foreshadowing, perhaps, although it is also a nice acknowledgement that other kids in this school DO know that weird shit happens and they aren’t just effortlessly complacent with it all.
CO: Maggie mentioned before that she had done Woodrun before, and used the phrase “you new kids.” So I thought that comment about her being perfect for the place was interesting especially since she is an older student who knows a bit more about the place.
MM: Although its also a bit funny that she is an older kid, yet she is in class with Hunter. Which either means he is exceptionally bright and in classes older than the rest of the kids his age, or she’s the opposite
CO: Good point.
MM: Maggie is also, by the way, a slight tribute to the character of Gertrude from the comic Runaways by Brian K Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, with Runaways being a cited influence on the comic, Vaughan being an influence on Spencer’s writing and Alphona being an influence on Eisma’s art. FACTOIDS!
CO: Boom! Facts! And then we get a Lost Boys reference!
MM: I have never seen the Lost Boys, Crit.
CO: I haven’t either, so don’t worry.
MM: Maggie is also very much like Hunter. She’s actually pretty perfect for him. She quotes The Lost Boys, references Hammer House of Horror (a British TV series from 1980), and mentions “The Suffering” which, really, could be a reference to a video game, a song, a Doctor Who audio book, or … well, could literally be a reference to Hunter suffering at the hands of Zoe, I guess.Continued below
CO: As soon as they realize how alike they are, I was thinking that they wouldn’t end up getting to spend too much time together.
MM: No? The more alike they were, the more I thought we’d see a lot of Maggie. I guess I’m an optimist!
CO: I just always feel like when anything is getting good for the kids of MGA, something bad is on the horizon.
MM: That’s pretty much the MO around here, truth be told! Hunter is called away by an irate Zoe, Maggie goes off to meet with her team, and we are once again treated to a flashback. This flashback takes place pretty much right after the last one, with Sarah in the bathroom and Zoe coming to comfort her. And when I say “comfort her”, I of course mean that Zoe berates Sarah for having feelings and yells at her, reminding Sarah that she can never tell anyone what happened. How would a murder look on a university application?
CO: That was a great line. And yes, there isn’t so much comforting going on as there is ‘hey don’t ruin our lives okay thanks!’ Except not that nice.
MM: As we return to the present, Hunter has brought Zoe to a little door in the side of a small hill which kind of looks like a hobbit home from the Shire.
CO: Indeed it does. And he believes there will be a flag in there, and he just wants to get it and leave. And yet, it looks more like a lab inside and not a hobbit home.
MM: Did you think like I did that it looked a tad bit like the last lab we saw, from back in issue #10? The one that Jade visited?
CO: If that’s the lab she stepped out of and met her mother, then yes.
MM: So you think they’re the same labs, then?
CO: It reminded me of it, so I’d say there is a good chance.
MM: It doesn’t seem unlikely that they’re the same. Or that they’re at least related. Which, in turn, adds a new element of mystery to Hunter and Jade’s past relation to the school with this being hidden on campus, for as we learn, Hunter seems to have some kind of relation to the lab influenced by an unknown memory that emerges. Now, in this lab we see a chair with some kind of … I don’t even know the word. Some kind of cranial device?
CO: That term seems appropriate. It looks like it goes on the head, and it’s spiky.
MM: Hunter also seems to have a memory flash of someone in a chair signing a book, assumed to be a professor a doctor. And then the return of 8:13 on a giant clock.
CO: The return of Hunter’s “can only see one time” issue. Except Zoe says it really does say 8:13.
MM: Do you suppose this is where Hunter’s “issue” began?
CO: It may have been, but I don’t think we have anything here to suggest it definitively is.
MM: No, I suppose not.
CO: I say it’s possible, no reason to believe it though.
MM: I would imagine it is in some way related, however, as Hunter’s reaction to the room and this sudden wave of memories is quite visceral. In fact, he becomes quite useless and starts speaking gibberish.
CO: Very strange, and “I really hate needles” suggests a bad experience in a doctors office, or perhaps that very lab. Though I’m not sure what “I should really be trying to impress you right now” might mean.
MM: I have a wild guess.
CO: Let’s hear it!
MM: It’s somewhat unfounded, but whatever. I may be on a track, if not the right one. The scene ends with Zoe saving Hunter, and Hunter in turn vomiting. I don’t know about you, but this reminded me quite a bit of Jade, and her waking up in issue #3 in Nurse Nine’s office. Back when she was asked “What did you see when your eyes were opened,” and she said something about silver streaks, remember?
CO: Yes.Continued below
MM: In issue #10, we learned that she time traveled a bit. Or, something along those lines. Truth be told, that still isn’t entirely clear. So, with Hunter’s comments, I felt like he might be traveling through time somewhat as well. Or, perhaps, having some kind of vivid dream, if Jade’s whole trip in issue #10 was a dream. I’m basically operating under the idea that Jade and Hunter are connected due to doctors having assumedly experiment on them in the past, so Hunter’s reaction here is basically his version of what we saw Jade go through.
CO: I think you might be on to something. Instead of him having memories flooding back here, he’s skipping through time.
MM: Or something of that sort, yeah. Time travel isn’t exactly an odd thing to believe in here, you know?
MM: We should also mention, which we skipped over, that Zoe finds their flag and a duffel bag of items, and that the reason Zoe saves Hunter is because she saves him from some sort of automated lazer beam thing which in turn causes the shire lab to be destroyed.
CO: Labs are messy!
MM: Haha. Indeed. Random supplies (a knife) and sleeping bags end up being inside the duffel, so that’s nice. On the knife — do you think that this is a “standard” item for everyone’s bag, or was this item perhaps left specifically for Zoe? And if the latter… who left the bag!
CO: Whether or not that was specific for her is a great question. I hadn’t thought of it.
MM: I kind of get the impression that it is specific for her, but even so I have no additional commentary on that, haha. We then get a brief flashback in which a news reporter reports on the disappearance of Mr. Hammond, and that police now suspect foul play, which goes against everything Zoe wants. I don’t know if the reporter was based on anyone in particular (I don’t think she is), but I do know that a t-shirt for The Guild is snuck into the background of this scene, in the last panel where we see Zoe. And The Guild is Felicia Day’s hilarious webseries about people who play World of Warcraft like it’s their jobs.
CO: Haha. That sounds amazing.
MM: It’s quite funny. I’m surprised you aren’t familiar with it!
CO: I’ll check it out. And then we go right back to Woodrun. Hunter calls Zoe an action hero for saving his life, but she is brash instead of just saying “you’re welcome.”
MM: Zoe is kind of a bitch throughout this entire scene, honestly. You kind of think that her and Hunter are going to have a touching moment, but she basically gives her version of the brutal honest truth and explains the ins and outs of the “popular girl”, and why Hunter will never be with Casey.
CO: She has a lot more insight about the whole situation than I thought.
MM: I like the line “You need to find some girl who’s not doing you a favor every time she looks in your direction.” That’s a pretty great summary of dating in general, if you ask me.
CO: I agree!
MM: They also briefly discuss how violent the school is and how they basically just keep plugging away, despite the insanity. Hunter has a great line with, “(it’s) like I’m on autopilot or something.” Zoe’s reply is the best, though. “Nobody ever knows what they’ll do when things start going wrong.”
CO: He feels like he’s on autopilot, and I feel like that’s a product of MGA. That’s what they want from the students. Just cruising along on cruise control not thinking about what’s going on around them.
MM: How else do you deal with teachers trying to drown you in detention?
CO: And then Zoe’s quote reminded me of the quote from Fight Club that is something to the effect of you don’t know who you are until you get punched in the mouth. AKA when things go wrong, as she said.
MM: Oohh, that’s a nice one. I hadn’t thought of that.Continued below
CO: Yes. Same idea, different quote. And then we see Zoe and Sarah on on a pier late at night. Sarah asks how Zoe got so complacent with murder, and Zoe flashes back to the murder of her mother at the hands of her father, without mentioning it outloud.
MM: Sarah reveals that she plans to confess to what happened, and Zoe in turn gets absolutely furious and — assumedly — murders Sarah. I only say assumedly because I have had issues with noting Zoe as a murderer due to my theory on her from back in issue #7.
CO: Right. She’s has been suspect but we don’t know for sure she is a murderer. I have to think she is a murderer here, though. The effect of her being drawn closer each time, tears streaming down her face, and her saying “I ask myself how much better my life could still be if you weren’t around.” Sounds like a murder martini there.
MM: True. I want to be petulant and stick by my past theory though, because we never actually SEE it. For all we know, Zoe just screams at her, and then is possessed by her other side. The murderin’ side!
MM: Now we get some more intercut sequences, but lets stick to just the flashback right now so we can talk about the “present” sequence in one big haul. In the second to last flashback, we have Zoe at a police station, with Saul Goodman as her lawyer and Deena Pilgrim as the detective investigating the murder of Sarah. Saul Goodman being Bob Odenkirk’s character from the best show ever, Breaking Bad, and Deena Pilgrim being one of the two main characters from Brian Bendis and Mike Oeming’s comic Powers (soon to be a TV show on FX as well, with Deena played by Lucy Punch).
CO: Better Call Saul! I loved seeing him there.
MM: Do you get the joke about his name? It took me a little bit to “get it” myself.
CO: Good man?
MM: S’all good, man!
CO: Ahhhh. Haha. Fantastic.
MM: With Zoe’s final flashback, we see her being brought to Sarah’s funeral by an unknown party (assumedly her adopted mother and/or father). I don’t know who it is, but I know that he/she/they are supposed to be important.
CO: Have we covered each flashback? Shall we backtrack to the present sequence?
MM: Sure! In the present sequence, Zoe wakes up in the woods. Or, maybe she was always awake. I’d like to think she wakes up. She then grabs the knife that was placed in their duffel bag, and wanders off into the woods. We briefly see Maggie with her team, and Maggie goes off to collect some firewood with a dark figure looming in the distance. We’re shown Hunter, who wakes up alone. He wanders off in search of Zoe, and he finally stumbles upon Maggie being stabbed in the back by a girl with long dark hair and a knife who is never mentioned by name and whose face we never see.
CO: Her face is perfectly covered! Just our luck!
MM: This seems to correlate PERFECTLY with issue #7, where Zoe seemingly murders someone, yet we never see her face. And when we do, it is shown from a weird perspective.
CO: Again, it looks like Zoe is responsible for murder, but it can’t be proven. We need to institute a “possible Zoe murder count.”
MM: I think we’re at… three?
CO: I believe so. 1 previous and 2 here.
MM: There has been only one confirmed beyond confirmed “murder,” which was the teacher, but even then that was kind of an accident.
CO: So, any fun new theories?
MM: Nothing ostensibly new, no. Just retreads of other things, like my Zoe theory. The biggest new theory I have is about Hunter and Jade being somehow connected due to CRAZZZYYYY SCIENCE! I do gotta say once again, though, that I love Joe’s art. The whole thing with the angles where you can’t see Zoe’s face is so well done.Continued below
CO: It’s great. It’s frustrating because we want to see it, but the way it’s been written and drawn is just fantastic.
MM: There is also a lot of fun stuff hidden in this issue, like Saul and Deena!
CO: I loved Saul, and didn’t catch Deena til you told me, but those were both nice. Any parting words?
MM: Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough!
CO: Well then, study hall is dismissed!