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 #28, part two of big Season Two Premiere issue of “Morning Glories,” double-sized and full of everything you could ever want, just like last time.
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. Enormous. Colossal, 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.
News Bit: Covering Season Two, Part 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” Season Two, as issue #29 continues the variant party — although, to my understanding, this is the last issue that will have this kind of variant extravaganza to it.
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.
Twelve years is a long time to wait, and that’s just what Casey has done here for Hodge. It’s an interesting scene here, and certainly one to think about.
Continuing off of where we left Casey/Clarkson in issue #27, we now get the latter half of her interaction with Hodge. It’s a hostile one, and it certainly reflects the notion that Hodge and Casey are more at odds than they are together; that Casey is going along with her because what little choice does she have anymore? I’ve often theorized that Hodge is bad news, and on a completely objective sense I’d say this is possibly true here: Hodge put Casey, a sixteen-year-old girl, out into the world with a knapsack and a set of instructions that included espionage and murder, and it has clearly taken its toll on poor Casey. While Hodge is assumedly doing something in relation to school, perhaps even to the benefit of it (or herself, more likely), sending a kid out into the world like that is cold. And Casey feels that way.Continued below
Not that Casey is an angel or anything, mind you, but she certainly was put into a very difficult position fueled by lies and continuous deceit of and from everyone around her.
What I like about this scene, though, is the one panel — “Where I come from, we keep our word.” We literally know where Hodge comes from in the biological sense as we saw her birth, but the word choice and framing of the panel is an intriguing one. Assuredly she’s referring to her life growing up at the Academy, but as far as we know the Academy is full of lies; that’s, like, the school motto or something. So if Hodge is saying “we keep our word” in relation to that, what does that tell us about the Academy? Or even her?
Another important piece is that Hodge refers to them arriving at the Point of No Return. Think on that. We’ll come back to it.
Touching the Cylinder
A large focus of this issue revolves (heh) around Casey’s slow march to destruction by interacting with the Cylinder. The Cylinder is a curious thing, one we know a bit about but yet not enough about to really understand in any conceivable way. It spins, it has something to do with science and it only really lights up when certain people are near it — their presence somehow “activating” it. Clearly Casey is one of the people who can cause the Cylinder to get all excited, and whatever its doing we can assume that a) Casey knows what it is now and b) Casey knows its power.
The question I think we have to ask here is not so much what the Cylinder is but rather what the Cylinder does. This is pure speculation, but I imagine that the Cylinder — based on events that we will see later in the issue and have seen in the past — is some sort of time distortion device — not necessarily time travel. When we saw its “creation” (what we assume is its creation, anyway) in the future back in issue #6, time gets all wonky and then all of a sudden everybody is dead. Therefore here, when Casey interacts with the thing, apparently as some kind of catalyst, time will distort and allow Casey to “set things right” — which we’ve taken to ostensibly mean in relation to the timeline. The line “time is not on our side” book-ending the first Cylinder sequence does seem to be a purposeful nod to this.
And in that way, I think the Cylinder is related to Hunter. Hunter stands in a circle, glowing light surrounds him in a spinning circular motion, he spits out some numbers and — presto chango, time stuff happens! The events seem similar, and while not 100% universal to what they do/how they do it, there’s a connection that can conceivably be made here.
And in that way, I also think the Cylinder is related to the Headmaster. Especially if my “Headmaster as an AI” theory pans out, which I doubt it will but you never know. Heck, even if Hunter is the Headmaster, that could still offer up some kind of relation between the two.
I also can’t help but think that the bit about Casey thinking the ground opening up being Hell is a sly reference to the readership because, you know, we all that, and our thoughts on the matter are much different now. Hh. Kids indeed.
Mysteries in the Library
We’re going to jump ahead a bit here, ok? Ok.
Well, this was a lot to take in, wasn’t it? Fortunately I don’t have to explain Descartes to you now; Nick/Future Jade did a good job of making it pretty clear, which is nice (but puts me out of a job!). This isn’t the first time a major literary item has made its way into the book (see: Plato’s Cave), but the implication that Hunter is the same as Descartes and Philip K Dick is an interesting one.
Descartes’ dreams convinced him that he needed to change the world. It was a mix of spiritual belief, the idea that the dreams had been sent to him to do a certain deed from a higher power, and a reaffirmation to him to devote his life to science and philosophy, in that he felt he needed to help spread the ideas of logic and reason to The People. Hunter, in looking at a book that supposedly has all the answers to MGA, is in the same position: to what end does he apply logic and reason to what he’s experienced and to what end does he rely on faith? And, to that same end, where do we the readers fall on that same scale?Continued below
Of course, this in turn sort of implies that Hunter is going to need to go and preach the good word, but that may not be such a viable option for him given later events. Still, knowledge can mean any number of things, so we’ll have to wait and see how things pan out for him.
The scene also not only reiterates the idea that everything in Morning Glories has happened before (and will happen again) but also continues the theme of both science and faith being important for the survival of the characters. Hunter being Descartes being Dick also opens up this huge possibility of how big and integrated into the fictional universe the Academy is, as well as what this could mean their goal is, which perhaps sheds some light on the previously seen historical scenes scattered throughout the series and how they relate to our main characters. I think we’ve made guesses in this column about past characters being reincarnated figures from the past, and this scene seems like a wink and a nod to that, perhaps even a check in the “yes” category.
Although, it may not be literal. It may just be that certain figures in time experience the same things as those before them, even if there is no Buddhist Resurrection in play or anything like that.
At the very least, Future Jade’s line of “You asked for answers, Hunter, but they’re not mine to give – they’re for you to find” is the most unsubtle nod to the readership the book has ever had in terms of our want for answers to all the mysteries.
There are other things to take into the scene, of course. Hunter sees a man in the library who is the same man that we saw back in issue #15, when Hunter and Zoe found themselves in a lab and he had a strange flash. We also get a picture of Julie Hayes in the book, supposedly a Morning Glory Academy student – and of course we all know Julie Hayes as who Future Jade recruits way back in issue #6 (which brings up questions as to why she’s in that book, although perhaps gives a nod as to why Future Jade sought her out in the future). Wheels are turning and things are connecting, although the big picture is yet to be revealed. Clues are here, though; what we make of them in the coming season should yield interesting results.
There was an idea in the last issue that when Irina took control of the guards in the basement and began marching them upward, that this was leading to some kind of confrontation between her and Daramount. Perhaps even a wide spectacle in which she may execute Abraham, the father of lies. Well, turns out we get something like that — but not quite.
Irina does two things here.
First, she shows off her power. I don’t mean that in the most strictly literal sense, either. Yes, Irina is vibing off this whole dominance display that she’s got going on, but her ability to thumb her nose at Daramount and get away with it isn’t the sole supporter of her power trip. No, Irina shows off that she has some kind of supernatural abilities, similar to what we’ve seen in earlier moments of the series; she uses mind control on the guards and she uses Darth Vader choke hold on Daramount, all of which shows that she’s got some magical tricks up her sleeve — so lets call this further confirmation in the Powers category of discussion.
What’s important about this, though, is that while it was never stated that you have to keep your powers a secret in the series, given the overall theme of everyone being secretive you could probably assume that flaunting them is against the rules — and Irina is flaunting them hardcore. She’s breaking every rule one might imagine exists, again showing that she is changing the game (per Future Jade’s discussion with Hunter last issue). Why? Because Irina DGAF.
Second, she essentially proves why Future Jade and Hunter send Casey to “fix things.” While what Irina is doing may seem perfectly legitimate (and believe me, Irina is too legit to quit), Irina is — like I said — essentially changing the game now. You can assume that up until this point that the machinations of the Academy had largely gone by most students as something not to notice; it’s not exactly Stockholm Syndrome, but you get the impression in this series that most kids don’t know what is going on. Irina, in this situation, is forcing everyone to deal with the ugly truth in a way that you could assume they won’t be able to go back from.Continued below
We’d signed onto this series to read a book about kids going to a strange school, and yet half of the first season was spent running in the woods. Irina is basically saying that all of that is over and that it’s time for the truth to come out.
In so many words, Irina is outing herself as the Big Bad of Season Two. Or, at the very least, the Initial Big Bad.
This is huge. This is unbelievably huge! It’s perhaps so huge that it takes a minute to really understand the consequences of Irina’s actions. Let me put it this way: imagine that you had done something so awful, so unbelievably devastating to the future that someone had to be sent back in time to stop you from doing it and perhaps even reset time so that you’d never have done it. That’s… wow.
We don’t really know what Casey’s actions will do (although I have theories!) to the series, but for all intents and purposes this perhaps proves two things: 1. that the school and its existence as a normal facility that educates a special and privileged few remains operational, despite the horrors and nightmares it perpetrates, and 2. that Irina is maybe the most dangerous character in the entire series.
Oh, and before I forget:
Ike for Headmaster Then?
While many issues give some sort of ideas to both Hunter and Ike being the Headmaster (too many of which to list here, but you can go back and read previous iterations of the column), this issue perhaps more than any other offers up one of the most concrete scenes in support of Ike actually being the Headmaster.
Given that Irina has such an intense focus on Ike’s demise after her experience in the greenhouse (the assumed home of the Headmaster) coupled with Daramount’s strong reaction to somehow stop her from doing so (although this would make her seduction of Ike back in issue #11 really weird) on top of the idea that the Headmaster isn’t just “some random guy” but rather someone we’ve seen before and have some emotional attachment to … Well, signs point to Ike right now, don’t they?
Of course, there’s also my previously mentioned theory that the Headmaster is some sort of robot/AI and Ike could just be the programmer and/or that Ike is the father of the Headmaster because time is wibbly wobbly. But all signs point to Ike being the Secret Big Bad so far.
Crossing the Streams
Well, how’s this for all of our notions of time travel? No flashing lights or 0’s and 1’s — Future Jade opens a door directly to the past and allows Hunter to cross back into our present. It’s a dream-like scene that perhaps questions the reality of all that is happening (especially since Hunter just spent a large amount of time in a rather strange and surreal environment), but if nothing else this supposedly supports the idea that the Cylinder is not a time travel device but rather a time distortion device — it’s activation is what allows Hunter, who is in the future version of the school, to travel into the past via a doorway into a specific moment; i.e, time distortion.
It’s all a bit … convenient, I suppose. As in, how did Hunter get to come to this exact moment? But I guess this allows us to once again bring up the debate of science vs. faith.
Of course, Hunter entering into the scene essentially brings up a few changes of his own. The basic implication of the scene, from my understanding, is that Casey is going to kill herself to save us all; we’ll talk about this more later, but Casey looks upon this situation with tears in her eyes as if to imply that she knows this is the end for her.
Hunter’s arrival, after a speech about changing the rules to the game, seems to offer up a variable that Casey would not account for. Casey would realize that she needs to give her life and whatever talent rests inside of her to “fix” the time stream (via the time distortion device), but she couldn’t count on Hunter stepping in to stop her and save her life somehow.Continued below
And, as we know, a sacrifice is demanded. One would assume that, in this situation, the sacrifice is Hunter and that Future Jade essentially sent him off to the slaughter — something she did with full knowledge of her actions. I don’t know if it is as clear cut as that (in fact, I’d tend to doubt it since we don’t actually know if Hunter reached Casey or what exactly their interaction caused as a reaction), but one could probably assume that something people will be unhappy with may start off issue #29.
Or maybe not! Fingers crossed, you optimists out there!
“We Are As Gods”
The last thing I’d like to discuss before we move on is Irina and her speech. It’s arguably the most important element of the issue, even more important than all the Descartes fun, and I’m going to do my best to annotate it piece by piece — because what Irina (Nick Spencer) says here against the imagery provided by Joe Eisma is potentially some of the most important nods towards what is going on that the series has ever delivered.
- “The place we are tested,” showing Casey approaching the Cylinder — quite literally a test of Casey’s faith as she offers herself up to the unknown for the betterment of all
- “A sacrifice,” showing us Hunter — and not boding well for his survival
- “Who are they to ask this of us?” showing Abraham and Jade giving him a look — a nod towards our lack of knowledge as to who he really is, pretty much straight up calling him out as a villain
- “We are as gods,” showing Future Jade — echoing the “so we created our own gods” line that we’ve seen connected to the students and specifically Jade, but having a much greater impact on what our assumptions towards the line’s meaning now that we see the older Jade, who is doing things to manipulate the past — and whose age I suppose we don’t actually know
- “They are weak and selfish,” showing Ike passed out — referring to “they” in relation to the staff and showing Ike at the same time seems to be another nod towards Ike’s relationship with the Headmaster, although the weak and selfish line seems like pretty accurate descriptors of him
- “Each time they fail us,” showing Casey at the Cylinder — and note that her arrival here is in relation to Hodge, who is ostensibly a murky character
- “These who pretend to be our teachers,” showing Daramount — pretty much calling her out as a fraud, which seems relatively on point given that we originally saw her as a villain but now see her as a more sympathetic and perhaps even affectionate character, albeit one who is certainly tricky, devious and not to be trusted
- “They hide truth in lies and lead us astray,” showing Hodge — remember when I called her a murky character?
- “They fear what we are,” showing the Truants — who are very quickly just becoming The Bad Guys of the story, aren’t they? Sorry, Truants fans
- “The light to their darkness,” showing Hunter — who hung out with the Dark Truants for a while not to be bogged down or destroyed by their nefarious deeds, literally making him the light to their darkness; oh, and Hunter certainly does his own “light show” of sorts, now doesn’t he?
- “Years ago, they were given a test of their own. And in their cowardice, they hid their failure from us,” just showing ranting Irina — implying that the idea of “this has all happened before, this will all happen again” is true for the series, and that the former teachers and creators of the Academy were at one point students themselves, perhaps even also implying that the current crop of teachers will one day go on to become teachers (see: Future Jade)
- “They are the only ones to blame for their own pain — and ours,” showing Casey crying — related to Hodge and Casey, and pretty much on the nose with the whole pain bit
So yeah, that’s all quite a bit to ruminate on for a season opener, now isn’t it?Continued below
If you ask me, my sort of simple explanatory thought on this is: something that the faculty did in the past, despite being for a better future, messed up — and those that can’t do, teach. So the students became the faculty and attempted to do whatever it is that the Academy’s true purpose is with a new crop of students, in a long con story that had to wait for the construction of this particular iteration of the school to take place. Meanwhile, while Daramount is in the dark and trying to please her father, Hodge is playing a different game and attempting to sabotage it for some reason; Abraham’s involvement, aside from perhaps being (in my opinion) one of the people alongside the Headmaster who came “before”, is still a mystery.
And Irina is here to say, “No. Screw this. We aren’t pawns in your game anymore.”
(I’ll note, as a COMPLETE aside, that this scene through the ending, if read slowly enough and with “If You Love These People” composed by Hans Zimmer from the Man of Steel soundtrack, matches up quite perfectly. Like, goosebumps and all. That was a literal impossibility for the first time I read the issue, but upon my recent re-read to write this column, I put it on in the background and … well, wow. Crazy emotional swells, there. Try it!)
And this pushes us right to the breaking point of the story and the season opener, where Irina says “no more” and Casey says “still more,” essentially putting us on a dangerous precipice of where things can go from here — especially given the whole assumed time travel/distortion element that occurs when Casey finally interacts with the mysterious Cylinder.
And, speaking of —
If that time travel sequence after Casey touches the Cylinder looks familiar, it’s because it absolutely should: we last saw this exact sequence back in issue #13, when Casey first traveled back in time.
Well, ok — not exact. What we see now is essentially “what happens next” from what we saw last time, with the sequence of events now looking like this:
- #13: Men going off to war / #28: The same men being bombed
- #13: Jade’s Doctor from issue #10 staring / #28: Jade’s Doctor frowning and looking away
- #13: Men, assumedly Greek, conversing in a bathhouse / #28: Someone rushing in shouting
- #13: A man stabbing another man, in the garb of the man from #3 / #28: The stabber walking away
- #13: An Asian girl (confirmed to NOT be Zoe or Akiko) screaming in a closet / #28: The same girl being offered salvation
- #13: Slaves building a pyramid / #28: A slave wandering through a cave
- #13: Paris (assumedly) burning with a man in the street / #28: The same man looking for a book
- #13: A waitress in a diner / #28: A cool lookin’ dude about to put on some jams
- #13: Men about to stone someone / #28: Men stoning a woman
- #13: Darkness / #28: Further darkness
Unfortunately, what this means is very uncertain. We know only one thing – the first time we saw this Casey was traveling through time, so assumedly the second time we are seeing this Casey is traveling through time again.
What this means for the bigger picture is uncertain, though. My wager? In this instance, some sort of manipulation of time in order to reset things (people, specifically) to where they are supposed to be, the first being what Casey pushed out of place in order to travel through time and the second being what was done to fix time – essentially quelling Irina’s insurrection and perhaps even wiping the memory of it in order to allow the school to somehow continue.
It’s also possible, in relation to the Hunter is Descartes is Dick idea, that these scenes are Casey flashing through different lives she has lived in the past in a very Buddhist sequence of events (see: earlier discussed idea back in the “Mysteries in the Library” section). Maybe Hunter coming in at the last second is essentially the person who reaches out to every member of Casey’s original sequence?Continued below
Oh, and again, someone may be dead here – specifically Casey or Hunter but most likely Hunter based on Future Jade’s reactions. Sorry again, Hunter fans.
The Sorrows of Death Compassed Me (or, the Point of No Return)
The book ends with Casey/Clarkson getting into a car accident while hearing Psalms 116 on the radio. We last heard “The sorrows of death compassed me” back in issue #13 right before her original time travel sequence, one that is mirrored in this month’s issue and making the symmetry between the issues all the more important (and also making me believe the last panel in each sequence is death compassing).
The language of the Psalm is haunting, though. The basic explanation of it in terms of religious commentary is in relation to the never-ending fear we all have of our inevitable end; if you start to think too much on the fact that one day you will cease to be, that one day you will be dead with no thoughts and just total unending blackness surrounding a total lack of self-awareness, the “sorrows of death” will essentially take you over — which is what the Psalm says (and which, by the way, can relate to actual crippling emotional devastation on a person, in a non-religious psychiatric fashion — a lot of people go to therapy for this very issue). That inevitability of death here, though, when we recognize that Casey heard the same thing in issue #13 when she first traveled through time, seems to imply that death is actually coming for her in this scene – and whether this is related to Casey’s actions with the Cylinder or not is certainly up for debate.
So the question is: why does she hear it again? I’d say there are three easy theories here.
One is that whenever Casey travels, this is what she’s going to essentially deal with; that the oncoming car lights are simply the sparks of light we always see when time travel occurs and that death is a time hop away.
The other is that the scene from issue #13 and now are even more connected than we originally thought, with the Casey from then being put into this moment in her travel through time because, as mentioned, time is wibbly wobbly in a fashion; there could be some direct relation we aren’t fully seeing yet. (Time distortion, etc.)
The last is that Casey’s interaction with the Cylinder has resulted in her death as Clarkson, perhaps to the end that timelines are beginning to sync up in a fashion (at the beginning of the issue, Clarkson did allude to her needing to return to the Academy) and that Clarkson needs to not exist for Casey to be back at the school – which would explain the transfer of consciousness theory we’d had last issue when questioning why Casey was able to come back at all.
Hodge told Casey that things would be asked of her that she may not be willing to pay, and Casey told Hodge that she would pay anything — the “point of no return” scene I mentioned as worth keeping in mind. Perhaps, as theorized in the discussion with her interaction with the Cylinder, what she paid with is her life.
There’s potential optimism here, but the scene seems to fuel those of us with pessimistic views about the survival of our favorite characters. Things seem rather grim for Clarkson either way, though. I suppose we’ll learn more next time. Perhaps.
One Last Thought
This isn’t in the comic version of this column (assuming you read that as well), but one final quick thought I’d like to tack onto the previous thing is Tom’s involvement in what happens to Casey.
Look, I have no evidence to support this. None whatsoever. But, in re-reading the issue for the umpteen-billionth time, it struck me as noteworthy after a few reads that the ending revolves around Tom. Not directly, mind you, and it’s perhaps me pulling straws out of a purposefully innocent interaction. However, in a book where almost no one can be trusted, I should note: Tom shows up at just the right moment to basically push Casey into the moment where she gets in the car, and when she’s in the car she assumes it was Tom who set up the radio that inevitably leads her to her apparent death.Continued below
You can assume that it wasn’t Tom who set the radio for all the reasons I’ve previously discussed. … but what if it was?
Again: I have nothing to support this thesis whatsoever. But, with so little known about Tom, it’s a possibility that he has something to do with this. I’m honestly of the mind that I may be turning this into a “Bob Benson is a communist spy/lady murderer/Don Draper’s son” thing, but hey, what’s the point of this column if I can’t wildly speculate with bare strings of evidence to back me up?
As I mentioned last time, the Morning Glories Wikipedia is now live, featuring copious notes and annotations. While I’ve not written anything particular for it, I’ve contributed a few pieces here and there, and some notes are sourced for this very column in a cleaner database friendly fashion — think of it like this column, but with less “me” and more straight-up presentation of materials. Should be good for every time we get a name and are wondering if it has been mentioned before. (I particularly like this entry, myself.)
In further things you should be following, the Morning Glory Academy Study Hall podcast is live and updated with tons of episodes for you to listen to, including commentary for the fourth arc ‘Truants.’ You can find them streaming here on Multiversity Comics (see below for links) or on Podomatic and on iTunes. For those unaware of its purpose, this is a podcast that I do with Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma in which we discuss each individual issue at length, offering up commentary tracks to go alongside your reads. It’s pretty much the best.
And, oh, I suppose while linking to rival website isn’t good for Multiversity business, I will note that all-around good guy Kiel Phegley does a column called Morning Glory Days about “Morning Glories” where he interviews Nick that is a pretty interesting read for fans of the series. I won’t actively say you should visit other websites besides Multiversity, but I do like Kiel. It’s worth a read.
If you’d like to contact myself directly with thoughts or comments, shoot me an e-mail at the very specific firstname.lastname@example.org. I have a real e-mail that you can find at the bottom as well, should you prefer that.
I’ll see you in the backmatter!!
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