Hello and welcome back to Morning Glory Academy Study Hall, where all things Morning Glories are analyzed, dissected and poured over with the hope that we can figure out just what is going on!
Today’s issue is issue #26, the enigmatic prelude to the second season of “Morning Glories,” where everything you thought you knew is once again proven wrong.
Join me as I discuss the issue, its story and the possible hidden secrets that we may or may not be picking up on. I should note: this column 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 continue to throw out this short plug:
For more details, click the image above. As for myself, I’ve got theorizing to do. Let’s kick it off:
Opening Season Two
Over on his blog, Nick Spencer has been showing off some of the amazing contributions he has been getting for variant covers to “Morning Glories” for season two, as they’re kicking off the next issue in a big grandiose style. Today, before we go any further, we’re going to show off all of these covers for those of you who may not have seen them yet.
In order to save some space on my bandwidth, I’m going to hotlink these from Tumblr. So if they don’t work, it’s because Tumblr is down. Again.
Jenny Frison (Diamond Order Code MAR138123)
Emma Rios (Diamond Order Code MAR138127)
Rob Guillory (Diamond Order Code MAR138123)
Christian Ward (Diamond Order Code MAR138128)
Nick Pitarra (Diamond Order Code MAR138126)
Jamie McKelvie (Diamond Order Code MAR138125)
Just stunning. But lets get into the issue now, starting with a title pulled from one of my favorite …Is A Real Boy-era Say Anything songs…
It’s a Metaphor, Fool!
As we start, six scallops are laid out on a plate and prepared in a rather delectable looking fashion at what we can safely assume is a high-end restaurant. However, like most things done in “Morning Glories,” there’s perhaps a very good reason for it. Six scallops, matching the six kids in both the Glories and the Truants, all being prepared to be served up to someone for a fancy meal? While the kids in our book aren’t ostensibly being given away to be eaten (or are they?), they certainly are being prepared with the same level of care and craft that a master chef would put when preparing a high-end meal like this. The extra flower on the plate sort of seals the deal, being a morning glory flower and placed in the lower left of the plate like a period. It’s all even a little bit messy too, which would seem to be an additional indicator of how easy it is to create a mess even when attempting to craft something of this nature.Continued below
So it’s pretty clear what we’re looking at, even if there may no be discernible reason for why scallops over any other meal. It’s a nice way to begin the issue though, given that the issue acts as an intermittent point between the two seasons: a clever little visual to sum up the greater story.
However, I’ll note that I kind of want to try pan-seared sea scallops with a pinot gris butter sauce, garnished with chive and flaked pepper. Anyone know a good restaurant?
And She’s Back
In issue #16, Casey left for adventures unknown, and last issue Casey returned through the cave from which she departed. Now we have her at the center of this issue, and she’s a bit older and wiser now. While the question of how the finale of #25 makes sense in relation to this is up in the air (spoiler alert: it doesn’t yet), there is quite a lot we can glean from the issue.
For starters, this scene takes place following the scene of Ike and Abraham in issue #24. Abraham was called away by the mysterious Benjamin (seemingly related to the man named Benjamin mentioned waaaaay back in issue #1), and given that he comes to see Casey immediately one can assume that whoever Benjamin is, he potentially works for and/or is somehow related to whatever she has been up to since leaving the Academy — and if the theory that Benjamin is really an older Hunter is correct, as someone suggested in the comments of issue #25, this would seem to make sense. At the very least, this Benjamin person probably fears Casey, since he calls Abraham in a seemingly upset fashion and Abraham’s response is to go see Casey.
One clear aspect here to take into consideration is that Casey is definitely older — she’s not the girl she was when we last saw her, and is instead a woman of some class now. Or, well, as much as a 19 year old girl can be a woman, I suppose. (According to the timeline we were able to establish in the last issue, Casey traveled back “13 years ago” and is currently in the timeline of “10 years ago,” hence the 19 year old bit.)
Of course, one thing that is slightly less clear is her relationship with Abraham. It would seem that she now has Abraham at her beck and call, so here’s the question: is she controlling Abraham, or is this just a natural relationship? It’s one of those small things where our imaginations can run wild; we know that Casey can control the minds of others, and so far we’ve seen Abraham as someone incredibly powerful, someone who manipulates but is not necessarily manipulated. That might not be the case here, however, as Abraham does not seem to realize who Casey is, nor is she anyone he has apparently ever met (since, keep in mind, when we saw him meet the other members of the Glories, we never actually saw him meet young Casey, resulting in his confusion about her reference to his son).
Oh, and he’s paying for her hotel without being able to take “advantage” of anything else. Surely he’s not just doing it because they’re buddies, right? Mind control seems legit.
My point being: with my longstanding theory that Casey will be the downfall of the school, it’s possible that she has been using Abraham to do her dirty work (further proving that she’s kind of bad news) in an epic long con — starting as a student, rebelling against the Academy and then entering into a massive chess game with the powers that be at the Academy, doing all of her actions behind a veil of highly manipulative secrecy. (More on this later.)
“Best you say your goodbyes while you still can.” — Now With More Updates
Assuredly this is a line from a previous issue of the book. However, I don’t particularly remember where; my brain keeps telling me that it is something Hodge says to Casey, but for the life of me I could not find where it was actually said. I assume someone will chime in in the comments very quickly to tell me where this was said.Continued below
However, this sequence somewhat eludes me in general, truth be told. We’d seen these panels in this order back in issue #25 when a timeline was being set, but for all intents and purposes this is the one thing that seems largely out of place within the issue. The first thought would be that the events that we are reading happen when these events take place, but that doesn’t seem right given that we already know it happens ten years before whenever “now” is, as opposed to a year before “now.” My second thought, and perhaps best guess, is that the actions of Casey in this issue relate to the actions we see in this sequence — the death of Abraham, her own acceptance into the Academy as well as Hunter’s (which would potentially further the theory that Hunter is Benjamin, given that Hunter has no other real place within the issue).
The other option is that the events of this issue change/have an effect on these sequences in a time altering way, rather than just generally influencing. That is to say: we know those sequences already. Now they’re being slowly changed via the butterfly effect from Casey’s adventures (which we’ll get to in a bit).
This is perhaps one of the greater mysteries of the issue, and I welcome all theories about why these panels in the comments.
Update: As revealed in the “Morning Glories” tinychat, it was a printing error. So all that time I spent looking in other issues for that quote, I could’ve just opened #25 and had my answer there. It’s Daramount saying it to Abraham. EGG ON MY FACE!
Here is the page that is SUPPOSED to be there:
Certainly changes a bit. For one, Abraham’s line about taking advantage has a little more oomph now. Second, the bit we’ll get to later (in which a certain scene is revisited in regards to exchanging of names) is given more relevance, since apparently this is what Casey and Abraham’s relationship revolves around — meaning Abraham assumedly works for her. And lastly, Kiev is the capital of Ukraine, so it looks like Casey is setting up Abraham to get Irina (which would imply that Hodge set up Casey to set up Irina to eventually kill Ike, apparently?). Tricky stuff there!
Quick note, but that’s Hunter’s number. Surely there is no coincidence there.
The “I Told You So!” Moment
One of my oldest theories was that Casey would grow up to be Daramount (see: Issue #10 for the earliest I can remember mentioning it). Now we get a transformative sequence where Casey changes her appearance, and guess who she ends up looking like? Casey knows it, you know it, I know it: Georgina Daramount! Aw, man, I told you so!
So, let me clear up one thing I know real quick: Casey and Daramount are not the same person, as confirmed to me by Nick Spencer. Yes, they look similar, and yes, Casey is using Daramount’s outfit as a disguise, but no, they are not the same person. Two different people. It’s just that Casey, being who she is, is going to use this good fortune to her advantage.
There is plenty of other things we can take from this, though. The similarities between Casey and Daramount were always there; both are excellent manipulators who seem to be in charge of more than they let on, both are powerful women who seem to be inexplicably connected to something greater, both like wearing their hair up, etc. The fact that Casey winds up looking like Daramount by accident seems to be a nod from Nick and Joe that this theory has some apparent credence, let alone greater importance, but it’s also important to acknowledge that this is only an accident for Casey — she got the bag and its contents, including a series of instructions written in a notebook, from Hodge.
Meaning: Hodge purposefully set up Casey to look like Daramount. Why? Not sure yet. Probably has something to do with the bigger con that she is definitely attempting to pull. However, if we discuss this with my earlier theory about Casey manipulating Abraham, this would mean that Hodge is the one really manipulating Abraham, since Casey is simply following a set of instructions in a notebook.Continued below
You also have to wonder if the pages in that notebook are full of Hodge’s psychic paper (stealing that nomenclature from Doctor Who rather shamelessly for future use), given that we don’t see anything written on the cover but see the space for writing. That could very well be one of those instances of me reading into this far more than I need to, though. (It’s possible that that is her notebook, rather than Hodge’s, full of notes she has left herself of things to do; sort of like the Reminder app on your iPhone). My general point being, though, that Hodge is someone to be afraid of, because she’s the one putting Casey in this position.
One question that I have in seeing this seen is, what did Casey do in between when she escaped the Academy three years ago and now, and why has it taken her so long to really delve into the contents of the bag Hodge gave her? Assuming she didn’t ever really delve into it and has just been having fun for a few years. I doubt it, but I suppose it’s plausible. There’s a good long gap between when we last see her, and something must have happened in that time period. And wasn’t Hodge’s pitch about getting out of the Academy about seeing her parents? Hmm.
Regardless of what she did in the past-past, we get to see what she did in the current-past, leading to…
Casey’s Excellent Adventure
The first thing to understand about this sequence is that it doesn’t happen chronologically, which is a hint Nick gave me when I finished reading the issue. That makes things considerably more difficult to figure out, mind you, but there is still plenty we can now understand a bit better. Lets take it page by page.
Page 1: I would imagine that the plane here is Abraham’s, and that the soldiers she is riding along with are under some form of mind control similar to what Hodge did. Where she is is a good question; I’d wager perhaps this is somewhat in relation to her father, and that her blowing up the compound is as well (perhaps to make sure that her father gets grounded and can’t keep moving around?
The identity of the person on the last page is a mystery as well, but the outfit seems rather similar to Hodge’s.
Page 2: Here we have Casey connecting with Miss Richmond, Vanessa’s mother and one of Abraham’s teachers at his weird little school. I’d wager that this is Casey using Richmond to keep tabs on Abraham, or perhaps even some of the students at Abraham’s compound.
The scientist she talks to (I’m assuming it’s a scientist, given his outfit) looks a lot like James Callis as a Gaius Baltar from Battlestar Galactica, but who he works for is very much a mystery to me.
We have a nice shot of Casey being a bad-ass spy as well, although I don’t think we have any particular context for it yet — there is nothing particularly identifying about the clothes they’re in.
And, finally, we now know that it wasn’t Daramount that visited Abraham back in issue #18 but Casey, as seen in the last panel of the second page of this sequence, which makes that scene make SO much more sense, especially since we see that Casey has a piece of paper she is reading from and we know she has advance knowledge of the future. And, again, keep in mind that for all we know Casey is running off of Hodge’s information, so those pages might be blank on purpose.
Page 3: Here’s Casey in what I want to assume is Vegas, but really it’s just a casino. We have Hunter S. Thompson at the slot machine on the left there, though, for our only real cameo in this issue.
Then we have Casey having lunch with Jade’s mother at a diner (identity confirmed by Joe Eisma), and it looks rather similar to the diner that we saw Jade at in issue #17 right down to the setting. The outfit is perhaps similar too, and the implication could be that her mom was working there, but it’s not exactly like the employee we saw last time (which was based on 2 Broke Girls anyway).Continued below
The third panel here is a bit of mystery, I’m afraid, but the fourth panel is the revelation of who was holding the gun to Hunter’s doctor from issue #8. Casey! You damn manipulator, you!
Page 4: Most of this page is a bit of a mystery, but I do have a few ideas about all of it. The hotel Casey visits is assumedly in Japan (the question of who is there is a bit up in the air – Jun, perhaps?), the chess game she plays is certainly a metaphor for the overall sequence (her moving the knight is interesting — who is the knight?), the bar she’s at looks to be the bar Ike goes to in issue #11 and, dare I say, it looks like she’s spiking the drink of the man who tries to blackmail Ike, and last but not least Casey lost in the desert I think is related to her attempting to reach Abraham’s compound, where last issue we saw Daramount make reference to it being hard to find (perhaps it moves).
So, lots to think about, lots to digest, lots to look forward to seeing unfold.
A Younger Casey
We also get a good chunk of pages in the book dedicated to the Casey we knew, the young school girl. We’d never seen this before, so it’s intriguing that we are getting to it now with issue #26. It makes sense, though; when we saw the other kids outside of the school back in arc 2, they were all being visited by Abraham in their daily lives. As mentioned earlier, we never got that with Casey, and the last page of this issue seems to be a clear indicator why.
You have to love her fathers lines here, “A new school, new stage of life… this stuff is important, it can be scary.” That seems to be a perfect description for Casey’s enrollment at the Academy, let alone Normal People High School. There are a lot of jokes here that seem related to the first day at Morning Glory Academy, both with Casey arriving in a car after “zoning out” and her optimism about surviving the school, and it’s all a bit funny.
However, it is importent to note here that while it’s Casey’s first day at a new school (just moving up from junior high to high school, really), she has been in the same place long enough to have friends, meaning that at some point her dad did get out of the army and settle down. Why that happened is up in the air, but hey, maybe it’s related to those sequences we saw earlier, eh?
I’d also point attention to the line “we will always be there for you,” which, sure, is a thing parents will always say to their children from now until the end of time… but in the world of “Morning Glories,” perhaps there’s something bigger about the line, especially with how it is framed. Perhaps Dan here has more to do than we thought.
By the way, my favorite two bits of background people are: the kid with the My Chemical Romance shirt because I enjoy that band (I’d imagine this is a shout out to Gerard, as both Joe and Nick are fans of his work in comics), and the girl wearing a short skirt and stockings with clips. In high school! What? MCR shirts were to be found a-plenty in my school, but never anything like that. Just normal boring stockings, like the one Isabel and Casey wear. (Update: Joe tells me this was inspired by the show Pretty Little Liars.)
Oh. Speaking of Isabel.
Isabel, Casey’s Frenemy
Casey’s friend Tam warns Casey that a girl named Isabel is coming, and Casey’s reaction seems less than excited. And while they’re friends of a sort, this would appear to be Casey’s Mean Girls scenario, where she’s only somewhat friends with this girl. In fact, what they discuss would hardly seem to be indicative of what two pals would discuss.
See, both Casey and Isabel are in AP Physics now, and supposedly only one of them belongs there. Casey is a good student certainly, and she’s seen as such (Tam refers to her having “brains”), but Isabel seems to be under the assumption that Casey cheated in order to be better than her and be first in their class. It’s a very interesting implication, because we’ve always known Casey to be a smart girl on her own without the need to cheat. Or rather, that was always what the case seemed to be, anyway. Now with Isabel, she’s taking the image of good girl Casey away and replacing it with a more “sinister” one early on (I use the term sinister very lightly), showing that the girl we saw at the Academy who would use people for her benefit isn’t all that different from the girl she always was back at home.Continued below
Granted, Casey doesn’t just shy away and say, “Oops! You caught me!” She’s very defensive. But then again, wouldn’t you be in her place?
So, did Casey cheat? With all the mistrust that has been seeded about her in the book, I wouldn’t put it past her. Not to say she isn’t smart or anything, she is assuredly a very smart girl, but this is another check in the column about her being a master manipulator. That’s probably my new nickname for her, by the way, or at least what she should have on her business cards: Casey Blevins, Master Manipulator.
Ah well. I guess Casey just does not have luck getting along with girls with dark hair. Well, besides Tam.
See? Casey isn’t Daramount… Casey is Clarkson! They can’t possibly be the same person! Casey is a teacher-slash-American Idol winner, who has time to be a Darmount?
This is interesting, though, if you think about it. Casey is essentially teaching herself now. The dialogue in the previous scene would seem to imply that any accolades Casey may have as a student are well earned, so apparently Casey is now going to make sure that she grows up to be the type of girl that can get into the Academy in the first place. That or she’s going to help her cheat, which would also make perfect sense to me.
Oh, and By the Way
Tamara in ancient Britain was the goddess of rivers and streams. In fact, the River Tamar derives its name from her. Didn’t we have another god of water in this book at one point? (Spoiler: yes, we did: issue #22.)
Seems to be a lot of water imagery being associated with Casey, huh? Water is usually symbolic for life, birth and regeneration though, so perhaps I’m being a bit too hard on Casey if she’s best friends with the goddess of water.
Isabel, on the other hand, is a variant of the name Elisheba, a Hebrew name which translates to “oath of my God” (Elisheba herself being the wife of Aaron in the bible). I don’t see any particular relation between that and our Isabel, but I’ll at least note that Isabel is the name of quite a few famous Queens, which could be related to Isabel’s seeming sense of entitlement.
In case you missed, all of the audio commentary for “Morning Glories'” fourth arc, ‘Truants,’ is now live. You can stream them all in one post on MC right here, on Podomatic and 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 myself directly with thoughts or comments, shoot me an e-mail at the very specific firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you in season two!
Previous audio podcasts: second arc interviews, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, second arc wrap-up, NSRFQR, third arc interviews, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, third arc wrap-up, all of the fourth arc