Hello and welcome back to Morning Glory Academy Study Hall! In this column, MC contributor (and FuckYeahLost’s head honcho) Crit Obara and I sit down and analyze the latest issue of Morning Glories.
We are going to be continuing with the “new format” for the time being due to some scheduling conflicts. Crit has sent me all his notes and I solo-write laboriously for you about the in’s and out’s of the issue via our mutual findings. Please send me Reese’s Pieces in the mail if you enjoy the write-up, as writing makes me hungry for a very specific kind of candy.
So join me as I discuss the issue, its story and the 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 comic debut, Enormous, now in stores and serializing here on MC! Many thanks to Tim for being fantastically awesome and providing it to us.
One more thing before we begin, as I’d like to throw out a short plug:
For more details, click the image above. As for myself, I’ve got theorizing to do. Let’s kick it off:
Sixteen Years Ago…
The book opens with Abraham looking in at a room full of newborns. I can’t help but be slightly reminded of this scene, the first page of “Morning Glories” way back in issue #1:
It’s different, mind you. Abraham is wearing a white suit and the nurse wears pink, versus the unseen nurse in issue #1 who wears green (not visible due to my page cropping). That and Abraham is going to see a male child, whereas whoever was in issue #1 was inquiring about a woman. That could be the wife, that could be a child, but Abraham’s interests don’t seem to be with any ladies.
And yet, I can’t help but think of that scene. We have to come back to it at some point, and the first season is almost over. It’s not like it is terribly unlike Nick and Joe to revisit older sequences in new lights, now is it? Some sort of connection seems to be in the air.
We also see that Abraham is being driven around by Mr. Gribbs, referred to fondly as Reginald by Abraham, while Gribbs refers to Abraham as “Sir” — the implication being that Abraham is in a superior state, and being that we know they later grow to antagonize each other, I think its safe to say that at this point in time Abraham is involved with the Academy.
We’ve often speculated here that Abraham is at odds with the Academy, perhaps having formerly been involved with it in some way and turning against it for one reason or another. This, more than anything, would appear to confirm that. Gribbs also refers to “the rest of the men,” and given that we know Abraham deals mostly with children this would appear to be further confirmation of Abraham’s former position of power at the Academy, pre-“Revolution”.Continued below
In fact, I would go so far as to speculate Abraham may have at one point held the same role that Daramount currently holds. It lightly holds up: Gribbs seems to be Daramount’s “assistant,” having taken her to meet Jun and Hisao in a flashback. It’s probable that this role could’ve been performed by Abraham, seeing as we know that there was a point where Daramount was not ready/right to fulfill those duties, according to the Headmaster via Dagney in issue #20. Someone assumedly had to do those things at one point, and Dagney was probably busy (most likely with being awesome).
A curious line is also, “There is no beginning, is there, Mister Gribbs? And there is no end. In this, nothing ever changes — not for us, anyway.” It would appear that this helps to justify the circular nature we’ve speculated on in the past; that is to say, the events we’re seeing unfold in “Morning Glories” are just repeats of former variations of events. The saying “those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it” comes to mind, especially in terms of the book centering around a school.
You could also compare Abraham and Gribbs even further with the color motif to LOST. Abraham’s white outfit, Gribbs’ black outfit? Seems a bit similar to the Jacob/MIB battle that waged throughout the final season. I can’t help but recall that one “hindsight is 20/20” scene where Locke explains backgammon to Walt: “Two players. Two sides. One is light, one is dark.”
Sixteen Years Later…
Flash forward to “today” (almost – we’ve still got a bit of catching up to do) and we’re back at that scene where Gribbs brought David down to meet Abraham, last seen in “Morning Glories” #11. (Note: we’re assuming this anyway; it might not be, for reasons we’ll get to.) However, there’s just one little thing that happens to wrap this up quite a bit – it appears David can not touch Abraham.
So, the question is why? I suppose there are four potential answers.
1. Because of paternity. There’s a chance here that, because David is Abraham’s son (as far as we know) that he can’t hurt him. The thing is, there’s a lot about David that we don’t know, so there could be a number of reasons for this, including but not limited to something actually built into David that doesn’t allow him to attack his maker (in whatever ways the term “maker” applies, given the ambiguous father/son relationship we’ve been teased about).
2. Because David had to go to “Morning Glories” #23. This is a bit of a stretch admittedly, because the timelines don’t ostensibly line-up. If this is the end of “Morning Glories” #11, then it would mean that they’ve been just standing around for a while waiting absent mindedly and staring at one another. Either that, or this scene doesn’t pick up at “Morning Glories” #11 and is just a different torture scene all together where Gribbs repeatedly tries to get David to hurt Abraham in place of Ike, which would help the timeline link up a bit more. Timelines are a bit… wishy washy.
I should note that, at the end of this scene, a guard (who I am informed is based on Paolo Belfiore of Comic Cadence Art) alerts Gribbs that something has happened, to which Gribbs gives Abraham a wry smile and goes off. We can assume that the guard is referring to Ike’s arrival with Jade after being picked up by guards in the woods, but I suppose there’s no way we can confirm it – because of timelines!
3. Because of rules. There are clearly some set of rules in play here, and maybe one of them is “You don’t get to kill your opponent with the ghost kid/security system.” It could also be LOST-ian again in that Gribbs and Abraham can’t actually kill each other directly, but we may be over-thinking Gribbs’ importance. For reasons we’ll get to (that those of you who have read the issue are certainly aware of).
4. Because of just, like, wicked good luck on Abraham’s part. Honestly, I wouldn’t bet against Abraham being a gambling man, and he may have just made a wicked good call on that one. (But, you know, I wouldn’t bet on this being the right answer — haha! Bet!)Continued below
This doesn’t stop Gribbs from looking pretty disappointed, though.
There is, uh, one other light possibility
5. Abraham is David. Ok. It’s a stretch. I know. But Gribbs makes two remarks – “I just can’t get over the family resemblance” and “Can’t even look your own flesh and blood in the eye?” – that could, y’know, have something as crazy as Abraham and David being two halves of a coin being the case, no? Just look, for example, how Joe draws the faces of David and Abraham, and consider that David could be Abraham’s son to the extent that David is actually physically taken from Abraham (just as Eve was formed from Adam’s rib, to run on a biblical riff). Perhaps that explains the ethereal or corporeal nature of him? After all, as we learn in this issue, Abraham’s continued existence is certainly, uh, questionable.
I don’t know.
That Pesky Headmaster!
We still don’t know who he is or what his deal is, but Gribbs has a wonderful line here: “If Headmaster listened to my advice, this game would be finished and you’d be on the dying end of it.”
The Headmaster could be playing at literally anything at this point. I would be foolish to even pretend I had the inkling of an idea. My assumption would be that this is all a giant game of power between people who want whatever power the Academy holds, for better or for worse and no matter who is the hero or the villain. Perhaps the game is played because the school needs to be “earned,” or fought for Hunger Games style.
However, the thing that I think is important to mention here is that whatever is going on, it’s part of whatever the Headmaster actually wants to happen. This could be tied into these rules that Gribbs makes note of, whatever they may be, but the Headmaster doesn’t seem particularly interested in stopping Abraham – you know, a completely viable option since he has Abraham tied up in the basement of the Academy. There has to be a good reason for that.
That’s very important to consider: anyone could conceivably kill Abraham right now. And no one can — except for, potentially, Ike. But why?
I would guess this may be addressed next issue, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Ten Years Ago…
Back in the past, we’ve got Abraham in the outfit we’ve seen Ike come to steal (to an extent) as he returns home to see his wife cheating on him with Raul, a restaurant owner from Tribeca. If you’re as interested in these sort of things as I am, it might interest you to know that Ike’s mother Cynthia here is based on Elizabeth Banks (and young Ike who we’ll see in a minute is modeled after Joe’s son Logan).
That’s all fun and dandy but, all things considered, it’s insignificant. This scene has a very specific purpose, and its not exactly a subtle one either: this scene not only explains the entire relationship between Ike and Abraham, but it also acts as a map for the entire issue. We’ve talked about it before, but there’s this super famous story about Abraham and Isaac from some book called The Old Testament (don’t know the author, sorry), and in this story a guy named Abraham was told by someone called God that he needed to sacrifice his son Isaac as a sign of his devotion to God. Abraham says ok, and at the last second God says “loljk,” and all is well for everyone involved (except for a ram, who ended up dead – sorry, ram fans). It was all part of a plan, though, because Isaac was supposed to father the Jewish nation through his sons, and this was all a test.
Of course, Ike calls it a stupid story. And maybe he’s not wrong. Ike goes on to point out that Abraham should’ve known Ike couldn’t die due to his destiny, and that there was never any danger. Why listen to God over this horrible thing that could never have happened? Abraham’s a bit dumbfounded by this, but remarks that the point of the story is that you need to be willing to give yourself up to something greater than you. It’s a story all about faith.Continued below
So, no, it’s not exactly the most subtle thing ever in this book.
There’s also an interesting moment in which Abraham picks up his watch from Ike, a watch he would later give to Hunter. So if you like origin stories, you just got one! And speaking of references to other children, Ike makes mention that he had a dream of his father pulling a boy out of a fire (which seems to note some kind of special power there, probably in line with Jade’s time travel abilities, Hunter’s 001100111s and Casey’s manipulation), which would be Junisao. I think it’s safe to assume that somewhere between sixteen and ten years ago, Abraham’s “revolution” (or whatever we’re calling it) against the school (again, assuming that’s what is going on) began.
Although… hey, wasn’t he wearing a white suit before? You don’t suppose his transition from lighter clothes to darker ones means anything, do you?
And in terms of Easter Eggs, I believe in the corner of Ike’s room you can see the toy duck from Stuff Of Legend, Quackers.
Oh, yeah, and the painting on the left side of the panel up above from their living room? Now that we’ve discussed the story Abraham tells Ike, it’s probably wise to go and look back at that, a completely morbid painting to keep in a home featuring the biblical Abraham about to sacrifice the biblical Isaac. That’s not the first time we’ve seen that image in the series (think of MGA Orientation). I’d guess it won’t be the last.
Also: Who is Benjamin?
I have no idea. Macey points out in the comment section that the name Benjamin popped up in issue #1 a the creator of the school, Benjamin Gerhardt, which is definitely a great connection to keep in mind.
Either way, keep that name in your radar.
And As For Me I Wish That I Was Anywhere With Anyone Making Out
I’m so very, very, very sorry for the title of this section. I kind of couldn’t resist. You’d imagine that Jade has listened to and had a good cry over Screaming Infidelities though, right?
We now see what happened to Ike after he and Jade got picked up in the woods: it turns out he’s having a ball. Ike, the deplorable little man that he is, has actually gotten the guards to like him through his tales of debauchery. And when Gribbs comes to investigate what Ike knows about the events that are occurring elsewhere, Jade interrupts his babbling with a smooch as a misdirect. That’s what they were doing this whole time: making out in the woods! They couldn’t possibly know what was going on with the wood situation because they were in the one part of the woods that didn’t get transported through time, thanks to the power of smooches! And just in time for Valentine’s Day. (“Baby, your kisses keep me in the proper timeline.”)
Luckily for them, since Gribbs is none the wiser about what is truly going on, he buys it.
Or does he? After all, all things considered, if Jade and Ike truly don’t know anything then they shouldn’t know that the student body “teleported or whatever,” which is something they do know, to which Gribbs remarks “Interesting.” So what’s really interesting? That they don’t know anything, that they were making smooches in the woods, or that they’re clearly lying but Jade is still covering up for Ike, who is a bit of an ass? Gribbs, after all, believes he knows how to fix everything, and wouldn’t you know it, it involves killing Abraham still!
But, we bring this scene to your attention for one more pointed reason. We know that Ike and Jade have some kind of romance between them. Future Jade mentions something about Ike, and we’ve seen that they have a sort of unconventional relationship between them with their interactions so far. I would imagine, for fans of this couple, that this was a particularly satisfying little moment.
I Can Hear the Atlantic Echo Back, Rollercoaster Screams from Summers Past
I guess I just like referencing music I listened to in high school for this month’s column. Sue me.Continued below
Ike and Abraham are on Coney Island for his tenth birthday, and Abraham does his best to impart a little information onto Ike about being a good man, the man he needs to grow up to be (i.e. Abraham), which will play into scenes that occur later. After all, for all the bad things Ike does, he’s still just a little boy. He wasn’t always “evil”; just misunderstood and misguided. If you didn’t feel bad for Ike before, I find it hard to believe you won’t now.
However, before the day can get really good, Ms. Dagney shows up to alert him that the Headmaster has requested his presence. We assume it’s the Headmaster, anyway; there’s probably no one else that could pull Abraham away so firmly. This would raise some questions again about that wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey thing we like to call continuity: if Abraham was already rescuing kids in secret and we are to assume his rebellion (if it is a rebellion) is already underway, then why would the Headmaster make a call? Unless, of course, it’s all just part of the game.
Either way, poor Ike. Abandoned on Coney Island. Given that Dagney notes that this wasn’t a “request,” though, perhaps Abraham didn’t leave without saying goodbye on purpose? Perhaps he didn’t have a choice in even that. After all, unless he and Dagney and co. just ran away and hid, you’d imagine that Ike would at least notice them off in the distance somewhere. (Granted, Ike is small; it’s perfectly reasonable that he wouldn’t. But, you never know, he’s a pretty perceptive kid…)
Also, given the amount of time taken for the photo scene (shown above), I can’t help but wonder if we’ll be seeing this again at some point. That photo of Ike and his father may have some importance just yet. Specifically to Ike.
You can also spy some stuffed Poyo heads in the first Coney Island panel, a reference to the only character of “Chew” to receive his own spin-off so far. Joe also recently appeared in the background of the last “Chew” issue, for those playing the cameo game at home. Joe also informs me that there are a few readers in the last shot of Ike, so if you’ve asked for a cameo and think one of them looks like you, guess what!
Oh, and –
For all you Dagney fans, we now know her first name! I like to think of this as Nick’s present to me, as Chief Founding Member of the Dagney Fan Club.
The Story of Abraham and Isaac
Remember earlier, when Ike was told the story of his namesake? And the whole sacrifice thing? Where, if you knew someone was going to live through something, there was no fear that the person would come to any harm, so why not just do nothing?
I told you it wasn’t very subtle.
We know Jade is alive in the future. She’s the only one we know is alive then. We also know that Gribbs kills students who are “useless” (which we’ll get to in a bit). So Gribbs is going to kill Jade unless Ike agrees to kill his father. But never the less, Isaac (in place of Abraham) must question the gesture and his own faith here for Jade’s life. See, Ike doesn’t know Jade survives – we do. It’s dramatic irony encompassed, so what does this scene tell you?
Well, that Ike’s a pretty good guy. Deep down, somewhere.
See, he could have let Jade go. He could’ve let her die. In fact, in the first arc, he seemed to have very little regard for the lives of any of the Glories, giving them all up to Daramount when they went to rescue Jade. On top of that, this issue tells us that Jade is “useless”, because she “failed her test.” Whatever it was Nurse Nine did to Jade, whatever it is they’re looking for, Jade failed and serves no great purpose – despite us knowing (read: assuming) she has some importance thanks to issues like #10 – and is therefore expendable, only kept around for Casey as a plaything (a sad revelation there). There’s all these things that we know that the reader could say, “Hey, Ike, you don’t have to do anything, it’s OK,” but we can’t. And he still ends up doing the right thing in the end. (Well, as far as the “right thing” can be considered in this dark situation.)Continued below
It’s all about faith.
And the best part? Jade could’ve squeaked out “No, it’s ok, I’m alive in the future” instead of pleading for Ike to help. At least, in a perfect rational world. If you’re being choked, I’d wager the last thing you’d say is, “Wait, I had this weird fever dream where I talk to myself about stars in the sky!”
We’re going to skip the scene in which Ike is bailed out of jail by Abraham. I’m not sure there is too much to extrapolate from this scene that we haven’t already discussed elsewhere or in some other variation already. It’s basically just Abraham getting mad at Ike for not listening to him about living up to his purpose (you know, before he randomly disappeared on his birthday) and a joke at T.I.’s expense. Sorry, T.I.!
However, Ike does make mention that he has no idea what his dad really does, which is interesting to think about given what we can remember/assume based off issue #11.
Instead, lets talk about …
One Year Ago
Ike stumbles into an office building with his girl of the moment (who, as featherbean in the comments notes, is most likely the girl Ike was telling the guards about earlier in the issue) and happens upon his father drunk in his office. Helping his father to the couch, he confesses that he doesn’t hate his father despite all that has happened. But then he happens to see what his father was working on – his Last Will and Testament, sitting next to a fancy looking knife and a photo marked “Age 10.” Given that the photo is not of Ike, I can only imagine that this only made the following sting that much more: his father has left him absolutely nothing in the Will. So what does Ike do? He stabs his father to death.
It’s an interesting scene to think about. In this whole issue, we’ve seen Abraham talk about how he wanted Ike to grow up to be someone that he could leave all of his things to, someone who could follow in Abraham’s footsteps. Yet, when it came down to it, Abraham had no apparent faith in Ike, and Ike responded by murdering him. The thing is, we have to ask ourselves what really made Ike mad? That his father had no faith in him at the end, or that his father was going to leave him nothing? Is Ike upset because his father didn’t love him, or is this a moment of Ike giving into that greedy persona, the one who likes causing havoc for fun? Wealth has never seemed to matter to Ike before, yet this could be the tipping point. Did the little boy who still believed in his father’s love truly die when he was left alone on Coney Island?
If so, that’s very sad. It makes the issue that much more difficult to swallow.
One more thing to think about: Why is Abraham drunk and defeatist? Whatever he’s been working on for all this time that he couldn’t be with Ike, you’d think that since he was working on his Last Will and Testament that something went wrong. Abraham must’ve known he was going to die. Why else would he put the knife on the table so brazenly? It’s practically asking for trouble.
Not to mention that the knife looks like some kind of ritualistic knife. It could be related to the Sumerians (issue #22) with its carvings, even. At the very least, it’s certainly special.
Of course, this brings up the question: what the heck is going on with the beginning of issue #11, then? It opens with Ike standing over a body (see: above image), a body that we had been led to believe wasn’t Abraham’s but was similar enough to pass, and while there’s a different shirt color now (ignore that) I think we can all safely assume that this is the same scene. Somehow, Ike kills his father and then.. his father is there, alive and well? So, is the Abraham we’ve been reading about, the one chained in the basement, not the same as the Abraham we’ve seen in other places in the book? Is he a clone? Did he die and become resurrected within seconds?Continued below
Is this all a weird figment of Ike’s imagination, and the book is going to end with Ike waking up from a dream and saying, “Oh, man, I need to stop all this crazy weird partying nonsense I’ve been doing”?
Mysteries, man. So many mysteries.
And speaking of,
Who Is That Boy?
That blond haired boy to Abraham’s right (our left). I don’t remember any blond haired Truant boys.
The other kids are the Truants, that’s easy. We’ve seen them. Guillaume and Junisao are there next to the kid. But who is he? Is this our “Benjamin” from earlier? Or someone else? Perhaps… David?
(Assuming the earlier random theory about David was incorrect, of course).
“Also, That Blowjob.”
Which is arguably the funniest line from this issue.
So, Ike goes to kill his father. Gribbs gives him a knife (very similar to the one Ike used to stab his father, if not the same knife), and Ike replies by shooting Gribbs in the brain. Bye, Gribbs!
Then he puts the gun to Jade’s head and threatens to kill her. Dammit, Ike, I LITERALLY JUST DEFENDED YOU AS DECENT.
Abraham pleads for him to not do anything, and Ike repeats that she’s not “one of them”, which implies that Ike does indeed know the truth of the whole situation. He then says, with the barrel against Jade’s forehead, that it ‘s time for answers.
You know, this is probably the second time (at least that I can think of) that the book has used Ike to mirror fan reaction within the book, the first being during the first arc where Casey gives Ike her plans and his response is, “Really? You think people are going to let you string them along like this?” I’d imagine most people are in the same boat.
So — big finale coming up. Any guesses what’s coming? Anyone you expect to see? Your guess is as good as ours.
If you made it this far and your head doesn’t hurt just a little bit, congratulations. The rest of you, sound off in the comments and get the discussion going.
As I’ve noted, we have updated the bandwidth and space being used to house the MGA Study Hall Commentary Podcasts, so if you have not yet checked them out, you can find all them on Podomatic as well as on iTunes. For those unaware of its purpose, it’s a podcast that I do with Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma in which we discuss each individual at length, offering up commentary tracks to go alongside your reads. It’s pretty much the tops.
If you’d like to contact contact Crit or I directly with thoughts or comments, shoot us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.