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 #29, which may just make your brain go all splode-y. I know it did mine right in.
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 formerly 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:
Every night that a new Morning Glories issue comes out, fans of the book go on TinyChat to discuss it with one another and try and figure out if they can draw meaning from the insanity, not just to the same extent that I do, but times twenty. So if you’re in the mood for chatting instead of just reading theories followed by musing on them in a comment section (which you should still do, mind you — I love chatting in the comment section!), you can join the chat and throw out ideas to a live group of people who are just as excited to talk about the book as you are. I have nothing to do with its creation, but I usually quietly lurk with a goofy username, and both Nick and Joe are known to pop in and offer up teases for things while dodging questions (what, you didn’t think they’d actually answer anything, did you?). It’s a fun time. If you enjoy reading this column, you just might enjoy the TinyChat.
For more details, click the image above. As for myself, I’ve got theorizing to do. Let’s kick it off.
Quick Newsy Bit
This weekend (August 3rd and 4th) is the rescheduled date of Boston Comic Con, now being held at the Seaport World Trade Center. Joe will be there as well as myself, and it is probably fair to say that you will be able to find me hovering around his table and chatting with people about the book.
If you are going, please do come say hi. And be sure to pencil New York Comic Con 2013 into your books (October 11-13) as well, as I can confirm that I will be there alongside other representatives of Multiversity Comics, and we mayyyy have some cool stuff planned for that weekend. Possibly. I’m mentioning it in this column, so who knows if there’s any carry over there, right?
Back to the Beginning…
So, if that first page looks familiar then let me be the first to confirm for you: you’re not crazy. That first page was, in fact, the very first page of “Morning Glories” #1 waaaay back in 2010. It was one of the issue’s most enigmatic pages and remained a mystery to this day as to what – and who — it was referring to.
Well, now you know! It seems that this big season opener is all about tying things back around, and in a big way at that. Not only did #26 give us a look at Casey’s whereabouts while #27-28 put it into context and re-centered the story, but #29 seems content to really show us how and why all of this stuff matters. It’s basically the book’s way of rewarding long-term faithful readers looking to make sense of it all; the bigger, more grand mysteries are still up in the air but we’re definitely beginning to see a clearer picture of how everything connects.Continued below
Of course, the ending of this issue offers up perhaps just as big of a shocker in relation to the introduction, but we know a few things for certain: that Clarkson/Casey did not die, that Clarkson and Reed’s role as parents is important to the entire book and its continued use of the failure of parents as a theme, and that David — despite his current ghostly appearance — may yet just be the most important character of them all.
Interrupting Conspiracy Theory: The Note
While I do not have any concrete ideas on the subject I do feel it is important to bring to the attention of the class that Tom Reed was given a note that says “For A Better Future” and the note was not given to him by Clarkson.
It’s important to note this because it brings up a rather interesting question of where he got the note in the first place. He seems to be under the impression that it was given to him by her, which infers that it was done personally. Yet her lack of knowledge about the situation and the fact that this warrants no further discussion throughout the issue seems to imply that it was given to him by proxy under the assumption it was from her — which begs two questions: did someone give that note to Tom and say it was from her, or did he make the jump on his own?
Either way, given where the issue ends up, it seems plausible that — assuming that the note is “from” Clarkson — that what is For A Better Future would be the child of Reed and Clarkson: David.
But we’re jumping ahead, like, a LOT! Lets dial it back.
…And Back to Basics
The biggest take away from this issue is that we’re now “back to basics,” in so much as we are now once again following the adventures of kids in a prep school. It’s an interesting change of pace. The third arc really ramped up the eccentric nature of the title and brought it down a rather intense tangent idea of spiritualism and mystery, and the upcoming sixth arc seems to be pointing towards a sense of normalcy. We’ll speak a tiny bit more on this in a bit.
A rather huge thing to note here with the end of the issue is that, for all intents and purposes, we’re also back down to the original cast of the book. Despite being given a bevy of new and intriguing characters to follow, most of them are now ostensibly gone or otherwise indisposed (albeit perhaps temporarily); the Truants have all been locked up and the Glories are back in school. Not only that, but the Glories are broken – our former clique now seems to have too much baggage attached to want to deal with each other anymore. You can bet that’s going to be a plot point coming up. Where they all go from here? Well, your guess is as good as mine.
But as Hodge says, it may never really get back to normal.
What Casey Did — … Maybe
So, a big question on everyone’s mind at the end of the issue is: what exactly did Casey do when she touched the Cylinder?
The simplest explanation, from what I can tell, is that she took away everyone’s magical toys. A big point earlier on in the story was about a chess game wherein one party has altered the rules of the game, which much was made of in terms of importance towards the story. We found it rather easy to presume, based on the cues future Jade gave us, that the one who had changed the rules was Irina and that she had done so via some form of special ability.
Its been a big point of discussion in terms of what it “means” or how it “works,” but Casey as well as others like Irina had – for lack of a better term — powers. They were varying, they didn’t seem to follow any form of traditional rules, but they were there and present in Hodge, Casey and Irina (let alone some other tricks present but undefinable in characters like Zoe and others). Whatever Hodge is up for debate as to whose side she’s really on, but everything Casey and Irina do can usually be described as something done for themselves and what benefits them — and if they help others along the way, well, that works too.Continued below
So when Casey interacted with the Cylinder here in the beginning of the issue, it appeared to cause some sort of feedback or resonance in the surrounding areas. Irina’s control of the men around her is instantaneously lost, so we can perhaps safely infer that the Reset Button that Casey had returned to this time period to hit (as discussed via the chess metaphor) was one that removed a particular element from the playing field: that of the mysterious talents. Daramount recognizes it instantaneously as well, which infers a certain level of awareness in her (we’ve never seen much in the way of powers from her), but she certainly sees it as a welcome opportunity to antagonize her young foe.
No More Mu—er, Powers. Let’s stick with powers.
Thing is, a sacrifice is always demanded — and we were taking it very literally. We (or maybe just me?) had assumed that the sacrifice meant a life, and while a life was certainly taken during the story in the form of The Real Jun (whom we’d come to know as Hisao) the sacrifice in question that was demanded was perhaps a bit more simple. Really, it may have just been Casey’s talents as well as the powers of those around her, which assumedly effects their goals for their future.
To make it a little dark, you could perhaps even assume that Casey gave up saving her parents … for a better future.
The futility of fate seemingly discussed here would certainly coincide with the general theory that Hodge was just manipulating her for her own ends as well, which brings me to…
Deconstructing That Splash
I want to take a minute to discuss one of the most impressive pages in the book so far, particularly in this issue. It’s just a rather spectacular piece.
I should note, however, that even if I’ve managed to get Study Hall snuck into the back of the book, I do not get any special look at the scripts or any advance sneak peek into the collaborative process between Nick and Joe. I do not know what the script asked for, I do not know what design aspects (like the chains during Ike’s mind ‘splosion) were added by Joe into the equation — I am simply looking at art and interpreting it.
Y’know. Like you’re supposed to do with any and all great art.
So, lets look at the page. Obviously the big action item going on is Casey being somehow affected/irradiated by the power of the Cylinder, whatever that may entail. It is interesting I think that the Cylinder is placed behind her as she would have to be facing it directly to interact with it — but the placement of her against the Cylinder in this position seems to show her relation with it in a different light; she’s not the only one being effected by it, as it effects everyone around her.
If this wasn’t abundantly clear in other ways, it is certainly clear in the framing of the page, made up of morning glory flowers that fade as they curl up along the right side of the page towards Irina, where they wilt and die. The morning glory flower gets its name from that notion that they bloom in the morning and fade and die in the evening, and the way this is juxtaposed against Casey to Irina seems to doubly relate to their relationship as leaders of two different groups within the span of the story. Casey is our savior and is bathed in light and electricity; Irina is a destroyer, who brings nothing but destruction and death.
More of the characters seem to be in proximity to Irina, though. The Truants are all in her immediate proximity (with Fortunato perhaps appropriately praying), and both Jade and Ike find themselves on “her” side of the splash along with Jun. I think it all goes to relate to how she affects them — or rather, has affected them throughout this storyline. Hunter is the only one who is on Casey’s side, moving from the same energy she is in relation to the Cylinder.
It’s also worth noting that Ike, passed out, seems to be in the center of where the morning glory flowers wrap around. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re going around him, but they don’t see to not be as well if you catch my drift.Continued below
Finally, you have the adults Georgina, Lara and Abraham, all central to the story of the children and all hanging their heads as if in shame. This seems the most noteworthy to me, as all of the other characters seem to be striking various outward gazes. It’s a mixture of amazement and wonder and confidence, but every younger character in this scene is looking outward in one form or another. The adults, on the other hand, refuse to “look on” as it were, showing a sense of somber shame towards the events that are happening around him. Lara even has the recorded, which relates to her monologue throughout the issue.
It is also interesting that David is behind everyone — doubly so now that we know Casey is his mother. I like to think of what it could possibly mean that David is behind everyone and everything.
It’s a very interesting piece, but I think it shows off a lot of the dynamic of the book very well as to where we are: the adults are almost inconsequential in their inability to control everyone and everything while two young women with miraculous abilities vie for control of the hearts and minds of those around them. One clearly has the stronger grip, but with the other returning that dynamic is going to be changing whether other people are ready and accepting of this or not.
How Hodge Failed
The general assertion I had made in regards to Hodge is that, if we are to assume there are two sides to a battle here (Abraham vs the Headmaster), Hodge was a third party candidate doing her own thing for her own nefarious and undefined purposes. There never seemed to be too much evidence to oppose her involvement on either side; she works for Abraham because she seemed to be against the school and its operations since we first met her, but when her origin story in #20 was revealed we saw a different and more Loyal Daughter side to her than what we’d seen previously.
Because she seemed to playing for both sides, it seemed plausible that she was doing something else entirely. Something for herself, something that didn’t necessarily benefit either of the other two sides but could, given the right circumstance/revelation.
So, assuming that this is all correct, it’s fair to say that in whatever it was Hodge was trying to do for the entirety of the past arc, Hodge failed.
Why did she fail? Well, a big portion of the narrative of this book is centered around Hodge leaving a message for her Father in which she relents that Father was right, which basically implies that she was wrong — admission of failure, basically. Her dialogue seems to say that she basically tried to usurp Him in a fashion, attempting to get at the same endgame He is working towards but taking a different path which ultimately proved to be the wrong one. Whatever it is that Headmaster is pushing everyone towards, one could perhaps assume that it really truly is For A Better Future, and Hodge knows this — she doesn’t approve of His methods. And I would wager this is all rather independent from what Abraham is doing, although you can guess that Abraham has good intentions as well.
But you know what road is paved with good intentions, right?
The idea that she was a third party candidate doesn’t seem entirely wrong therefore, and it makes you wonder what Hodge has planned next – continued blind servitude of the omnipotent Headmaster, or perhaps another plan to get the same result via a “softer touch”? She’s a crafty one and clearly plays a lot to the vest, as it were — and I’d wager the return of the mystery portrait on her desk has some overal significance that would reveal a lot about what it is she is trying to do and why. I’d almost even go so far as to infer that she has a rather important relationship with someone at the school, or someone that we know whose life has been or will be effected dramatically because of the games the Headmaster is ostensibly playing.Continued below
And you have to wonder: if all of that was Hodge’s plan, what on Earth could the Headmaster’s plan be? How much worse could it all really get?
There’s also the tiny question of why she is communicating with her Father via a recording as opposed to talking to Him in person, but I don’t have a good guess for that one at the moment. Other than, you know, that the Headmaster is actually a MACHINE like I speculated that one time.
The Past and the Future Colliding
So, last time when we got to the end of the issue and all that “Sorrows of Death compassed me” stuff, we had to openly speculate what was happening. Did Clarkson die in the car crash? How is that related to her returning to the future?
Unfortunately, this issue does not offer up any more solid notions to this end. However, a certain aspect is added in here post-Casey’s interactions with the cylinder in that now she apparently doesn’t remember anything. This essentially “cleans up” what could be seen as inconsistency in relation to all the time travel; she doesn’t have to acknowledge her time with Tom or her relationship to David now because she has no memory of it.
The chess board is reset. You see?
Not only that, but her words upon awakening post-Cylinder — “Won’t let you… open it … this is real, you know I can tell? I still hate you..” — all seem like snippets from a conversation from her past/future that we haven’t seen yet, perhaps similar to what Jade was saying when her eyes were opened (see: issue #3 and issue #10). On a first glance I’d almost say this is her talking to Tom, perhaps after he discovers who/what she really is. But upon a second read I’m less sure — the line could honestly apply to any number of characters, particularly Hodge.
But on top of all that, the one thing I want to talk about is:
The Last Page Only Took Place Two Months Ago
There are a lot of mind-explosion moments in the issue, but perhaps the biggest one is that David is Casey’s son. What makes this all the more headache inducing is that the scene we see at the end, where David is still less than a year old, only takes place two months ago.
And, yes, it does take place at 8:13, doesn’t it?
Need I remind you that the two months ago is in relation to the “now” events, which is what is currently going on — and during this timeline David is at least a teenager, which basically makes it very difficult to comprehend in the very basic logistics of this works. Other than, y’know, WIBBLY WOBBLY TIMEY WIMEY … STUFF.
This does go to support the theory that what happens at Morning Glory Academy is outside of what we want to refer to as a “regular timeline”. That is to say, we can put events in order, but only to a certain degree — the Academy itself and the events that take place on the campus grounds appear to largely happen within a spectrum of time that exists and matters largely to itself, as if in some kind of a bubble. It’s the only particular way to make sense of it all, especially in the wake of something like this. Bits add up (we knew that Clarkson was still a teacher at Casey’s school when Casey left for the Academy) but the larger pieces don’t fit except when we purposefully force them together.
Because that’s just how it works.
What Happens Next
I alluded to this a little bit earlier, but the book is very much pushed into a place so that the next arc can do a repeat of arc 2 and focus on characters for a while. So where does that leave our principal cast?
- Casey is OK, and recovering
- Jade is OK, but angry with Ike
- Ike is OK, and largely still the biggest candidate for Headmaster
- Hunter is OK, but seems to want new friends
- Jun (Hisao) is perhaps the biggest candidate for replacement-Irina/requisite angry student living adrift of other studentsContinued below
- Zoe is still dead
- Irina is being locked up away from everyone else
- Ian, Guillaume and Fortunato are being locked up together
- Akiko might not be that dead after all
- Vanessa’s whereabouts are not seen, but you can perhaps infer that we’ll find out soon
- Georgina and Lara are going back to teaching
- Abraham’s whereabouts are unknown
- Gribbs is also still dead
That’s just about everyone, right? Did I forget anybody?
The above picture is a bit sad when you see who it was running the film club that Hunter is looking at the flyer to. But, on the plus side, apparently I can teach you how to play guitar so feel free to get in touch with me if you’re looking to pick up a music elective.
(Joe tells me its not a reference to me and my former days in a band, but I can still teach you guitar if you want.)
Oh, and Pam Won Woodrun
As I’ve mentioned before, 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 inklings here and there, and some notes are sourced for this very column in a cleaner database friendly fashion — so I guess 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.
Fifth arc discussion will be coming … soon.
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