MGA Study Hall: Issue #3

By and | June 1st, 2011
Posted in Annotations | 4 Comments

You guys demanded it. Nick and Joe encouraged us to do it. Now we’ve done it: my partner in crime Crit Obara and I have sat down and studied the first six issues of Morning Glories! Today we’ve got the third issue, and we’ll have a new version of this column up daily this week, with our studies of #6 and #10 up next week! Get excited.

As a note, these columns contain massive spoilers. The issue has been out for quite some time now, but as a note if you have not read the issue yet you will have the ending ruined for you, as well as other key elements of the book. While a lot of what we say is just theorizing and speculation, some of it is a reflection of the latest issues as well up to the 9th issue. So. Read the issues. Then read our thoughts. Agreed? Good.

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. Many thanks to Tim for being fantastically awesome and providing it to us.

Click behind the cut for the discussion!

Previous issues:
#1, #2#7, #8, #9
Matthew Meylikhov: Hello, and welcome back to Study Hall!! Crit and I are here with issue #3 in front of us and a buttload of notes. Say hi, Crit!

Crit Obara: Hi, Crit!

MM: So, this is perhaps the first issue where I’ve wanted to mention the cover before we even open the issue.

CO: Mention away!

MM: I’m sure it’s not intentional… or maybe it is… but on every cover for the series, we’ve had a Morning Glory flower hidden somewhere in the image. In issue #3, it’s on a necklace around Jade’s neck. I don’t know if this is important or just where Rodin Esquejo decided to hide it, but … well, given what we know of Jade now, it’s certainly somewhat suspicious.

CO: Now I don’t have each individual issue, I have them all as one… does that morning glory appear on the covers after this one again? Or is it just the first two?

MM: Yes, in the next issue it’s the wallpaper, and on the 5th issue it’s hidden in the corner between some lockers.

CO: Nice catch!

MM: I haven’t seen it on the sixth issue, though. That’s the cover that has “mysterious long red haired woman named Jade” staring at the Cylinder. And every issue after that is just a picture of one of the characters.

CO: Interesting. So 3 and 6 are the odd ones out.

MM: No, it’s in 3! That’s why I brought it up, haha. It’s hidden, but it’s on the chain around Jade’s necklace.

CO: Whoops…I knew that!

MM: It’s ok. I forgive you.

CO: Good! Now, let’s dig into issue 3! Let’s go back to 1490.

MM: Talk about a flashback!

CO: We see a heavily fortified building. It looks like it’s on top of a mountain or a hill, and it’s got layers of walls. Looks like a place Mario would go to find Bowser and save the princess from getting kidnapped for the 872nd time.

MM: I don’t think the princess is Spanish, so it looks like he’s going to have to go to another castle. This fortress is in an undetermined location, and it kind of looks like a monastery. If it IS a monastery, then we’re looking at Morning Glory Academy years in the past. As Casey mentioned in issue #1, MGA was a monastery before it was a school.

CO: Indeed. It’s hilltop location would seem to hint that it isn’t MGA, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t. In fact, I think it just might be.

MM: The major flaw in my monastery note is that Casey says the monastery was designed in 1760, and the comic opens in 1490. But given the mysterious nature of the school and it’s purpose, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that that could be misinformation fed out to the masses to make MGA seem more .. uh.. “friendly.”

Continued below

CO: Lying about when the building was designed and built would be one of the smaller lies on the scale at MGA.

MM: I’d also like to throw out there that our building here, whether it’s a monastery or some kind of fortress, is possibly on some kind of island. Given that in issue #1 we had a reference to the Prisoner and LOST, both of which are about people captivated on islands, I don’t think it’s too improbable to say that Morning Glories takes place on an island. It’s a WILD theory, but – unless I’m wrong – we’ve never seen the roads that lead to the school. All the kids got into the car, were knocked out with gas, and woke up at the school (kind of like the Prisoner, really).

CO: Where they were taken, they don’t need roads!

MM: That was just something random that I noticed when comparing this building to the school. We never did see how the kids got there.

CO: That’s very true. We went from limo to school.

MM: So our story opens with a Spanish woman in captivity in this building, communicating with someone through a hole in the wall. We don’t know who is on the other wall, but they’ve been in captivity for 16 years – which is noteworthy because that’s the age all the kids ended up at the school!

CO: Right, one of them has been there 16 years, and used her own severed finger bone to scrape a eye-hole through the wall and say hello to another woman, who has been there for 3 months.

MM: Interesting. You say “another woman!”

CO: I suppose that could be incorrect. It could be a man over there.

MM: I honestly thought it was a woman on the other side too. It was only just now while looking at the issue that I realized a gender is never mentioned, which is why I edited my previous note.

CO:Whoever they are, they’ve written a message all over the walls of their cell. THE HOUR OF OUR RELEASE DRAWS NEAR. They say that God spoke to them, and gave them a vision, like Daniel.

MM: The Daniel part is really interesting. It’s a more common phrase than I realized, used to denote a “portent of doom or misfortune.” It’s a reference to the Book Of Daniel, where there was a supernatural writing foretelling the demise of the Babylonian Empire.

CO: Yup. What I read said that Daniel’s vision was of “a great war.” He saw a bloodstained future for the people after his death. That being the demise.

MM: I actually have the original text from the writing on the wall in my notes! “mina, mina, shekel, half-mina.” Mina, meaning “God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end”; Shekel, meaning “you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting;” and Half-mina, meaning “your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” How it was translated as such I’m not entirely sure, but that’s what Biblical Scholars are for, right?

CO: Indeed!

MM: It’s also interesting that our mysterious and unseen friend doesn’t actually know what she wrote.

CO: She doesn’t speak English.

MM: The writing on the wall here is in English, and they make a point of asking the girl that we do see to translate it.

CO: Her vision didn’t have subtitles, I guess. Way to go, God!

MM: I also assume she wrote on the wall with her bone. Which is creepy.

CO: It sure is. It also shows that she was that motivated to write what she saw that she took off her own finger to use the bone as a writing utensil. Though she may not have even known anyone would ever see it, at least not while she was alive.

MM: And she didn’t just write it ONCE! She wrote it all over the wall! That takes dedication, to carve into the wall a phrase you can’t even read.

CO: What an uplifting first few pages!

MM: Seriously. Spencer and Eisma love making this the most positive and joyful book on the market. (I secretly hope that one day becomes a pull quote.) So after this joyous opening, we get to our next scene with Casey approaching Ms. Daramount and trying to find out where Jade was brought after last issue’s events.

Continued below

CO: And Daramount tells her that Jade is troubled, and tried to drown herself.

MM: I LOVED that line. Jade is a “sick girl” and has “led a very … troubled life.” The ellipsis in there is what makes it for me. That’s very clearly a hint. To what? Not entirely sure. I have theories. But it’s a hint!

CO: Are you ready to unleash any theories at this point?

MM: Haha, not quite! BUT. I will say, the line that Daramount says about Jade’s treatment being directly related to Casey’s actions is part of it.

CO: Daramount cryptically says “we have many different options in terms of exactly how we approach this problem, some of them more…aggressive than others,” speaking of Jade. Then she drops the line you just mentioned, “and exactly which course of action we take might be directly related to your own.”

MM: Daramount is so evil and cryptic!

CO: She sure is.

MM: I don’t suppose you have any theories you want to throw out there? You asked me, it’s only polite I return the question!

CO: Not at this point, but I have some ideas…they’ll just need to wait.

MM: Well, as we wait for that, let’s go back to the book – where Casey has stormed out of the office in a huff and comes face to face with Ike. I should also throw out there that, at this point, Casey is still not dressing in her uniform! Which is an important plot point to the issue.

CO: I like what Ike has to say. HE tells her she’s doing everything they want, storming in, etc. (I also like that he says “Lucying your football.”) He tells her to show them that she can take what she wants.

MM: For the uneducated, “Lucying your football” is a reference to the Peanuts, where Lucy would pull the football away from Charlie Brown whenever Charlie tried to kick it!

CO: Of course. Good times!

MM: Ike’s lines here will also become rather illuminating in the next issue, but for now it’s interesting to see him trying to “help” Casey, in his own odd way. We then transition to Jade, waking up in the Nurse’s office-slash-dungeon. We are immediately greeted by the familiar “For a Better Future” poster, which is one of the first thing Jade sees while waking up – which I’m going to mark as an important detail. We then meet a new character, the Nurse, whose name is … “Nine.” Thoughts on that?

CO: Not sure what to make of the number for a name. Do you think some MGA employees are referred to by numbers instead of names, if they’re secondary faculty and not professors? Is she somehow less than human and therefore not deserving of a name? Did her parents just like Nine as a name?

MM: I actually thought of the Prisoner again. I know you haven’t seen it, but in the show all the characters have there names taken away and replaced with numbers (which leads to one of the great lines of the show, “I am not a number! I am a free man!”

CO: Ahh, I see.

MM: So, given the “prison” theme of this issue, because it looks like Jade is being held against her will so it’s safe to call her a prisoner, I feel like that could be a reference to who Nine is – not specifically a woman, but just part of the great machine that is MGA.It also occurred to me that she might not actually be human, or that Nine is her last name.

CO: Gotcha. Especially after the first few pages, I like the Prisoner idea.

MM: I mean, we don’t know how long any of the staff have actually been at the school… they could all be eternal fixations of the building, let alone the academy…

CO: The limo driver hinted at that. So it’s possible!

MM: True! The dialogue in this scene is CRAZY important upon a second read. Miss Dagney is back, chatting with Nurse Nine, and they say some really interesting things, including but not limited to “there is a case to believe (Jade) knows.” KNOWS WHAT?!

Continued below

CO: The phrase “she knows” is used again. It’s the same thing Daramount and Gribbs wondered when she tried to drown herself. Knows what?, at least to me, is one of the most intriguing questions of the whole series.

MM: I also love the line that Dagney has, where she describes Jade as a “very badly broken young girl.” Broken from what?

CO: If only we could read from one of her notebooks…

MM: Whereas Nine says things like, “I can feel ‘it’ on ’em, and she’s got none of it. Just another worthless birthday girl.” Jade is “not one” of … something. Yet she’s also incredibly important.

CO: Very strange. She’s something, but not THE something. We don’t know what either one is though.

MM: And Nine is a huge sadist. She wants to cut Jade open and “see what comes pourin’ out.” We thought Daramount was nuts!

CO: Seems like being crazy is a prerequisite for being any part of the MGA staff. Jade hears that and makes a run for it. She doesn’t want to get cracked open, and who can blame her? She finds herself in a long, non-descript hallway with doors on both sides. She looks into a few of the doors and sees patients in padded rooms.

MM: She also runs DOWN stairs, which I thought was notable. Seems to me that kids in this school have a bad habit of going down, instead of up. If I was in a creepy school dungeon, I’d try to go up, and out!

CO: I think I would too. Out and then away from the school.

MM: That is, if the school isn’t on an island! She’s greeted by someone who says something we saw on the first few pages. “…sister?” I think the implication is that this is the girl from the beginning of the comic. One of the two. Assuming the other was a girl, I guess. It’s also possible that she means “sister” literally.

CO: Here’s my crazy thought. Ready for this?

MM: Go!

CO:She looks into two rooms. We see a male with brownish hair, a girl with long blonde hare, and then this girl with a shaved head pops out. We know a male with shortish brownish hair. We know a girl with long blonde hair. I know this third “patient” has her head shaved, but…are these clones of the glories? (That, in the case of shaved head girl, speak Spanish?) I got a real Moon feel while she went downstairs to this hallway.

MM: Iiiiiiiiiiiinteresting. For those who don’t know what it is, wanna give a brief Moon description?

CO: Moon is a great film written and directed by Duncan Jones, starring Sam Rockwell as a man who is alone working a 3 year shift on the moon with a computer that speaks to him and helps him. He thinks his shift is almost over when he discovers that he’s a clone and his “three year shift” keeps happening over and over and he is not going home at all.

MM: The film stars Sam Rockwell, Sam Rockwell, Sam Rockwell, and Sam Rockwell. Oh, and Sam Rockwell is in it as well!

CO: He should have been nominated for everything, and the film should have been nominated for best picture. Anyhoo!

MM: It’s a very interesting thing you bring up, though. I hadn’t even thought they might be clones. I had seen that and immediately assumed they were other kids.

CO: That could be as well, but the two hair matches had me thinking.

MM: So the guards rush in, and – if I’m not mistaken – the lead guard is actually Joe Eisma’s brother.

CO: Really? That’s pretty sweet!

MM: I remember Joe mentioning that he had put his brother in the comic at one point. I just can’t remember if this was the point!

UPDATE: Joe has informed me that his brother is in issue #5, the guard killed by “David.” The man getting his neck snapped in this issue is just a friend of Joe’s. With friends like these…

Continued below

CO: Bald clone says “stay behind me” and then kicks some ass.

MM: Oh god, yes she does! She kicks an excessive amount of ass. And the entire sequence is intercut with Casey, who finally puts on her Morning Glory Academy Uniform. I told you it’d be important!

CO: Yes!

MM: I’d like to take a minute to not talk about the story, but give major props to Joe Eisma. This whole sequence is just beautifully illustrated.

CO: Today is his birthday, so props and happy birthday! (Even though this won’t be published today)

MM: No, this should be out a week and two days from now! But either way, three cheers for Joe!

CO: Yeah Joe!

MM: Also in this scene is Casey taking an apple, which I’ve noted in the past to supposedly have some kind of importance – although we never fully picked one out. Just an implied purpose.

CO: After she grabs the apple, we see Dagney down in the basement now, instructing the guards to just get the new girl, and gives no instructions on what to do about the bald basement dweller. She also says “don’t get too close,” perhaps because baldy kicks ass, or perhaps for another reason? Then baldy writes that phrase we saw earlier on the wall, using the blood of the guards.

MM: “THE HOUR OF OUR RELEASE DRAWS NEAR.” Our writing on the wall. And of course, Jade is captured and brought back to happy-go-lucky Nurse Nine and her friendly syringe.

CO: Just a little pinch, she says.

MM: Meanwhile, Casey goes to class, with a new teacher we haven’t seen before, who is teaching about Tomas de Torquemada. While I couldn’t think of a REAL connection, what I do know is this: Torquemada was the leader of the Spanish Inquisition. Our weird bald friend/sister/clone and the girl from the beginning of the comic – both of whom were prisoners! – also spoke Spanish.

CO: So there are some implied connections here to define as you wish. 1478-1834 are the years of the Spanish Inquisition. 1490, the year we saw earlier, falls in there.

MM: And so does the creation of the school, in 1760! And finally, to top it all off, Casey write in her notebook “The Hour Of Our Release Draws Near” – just as Jade gets an injection in the throat. I can’t help but assume the timing of that is important.

CO: How does she know that phrase?

MM: And why does Jade need an injection? Casey and Jade… gee… it’s almost as if they’re connected……..

CO: Is this leading to a theory of yours here?

MM: I dunno! Maybe!

CO: Go for it!

MM: Well, my theory is – OH. Wait. Gotta wait until we get to issue #6!

CO: Dang!

MM: Do you have any additional theories you’d like to throw out there before the bell rings?

CO: Nope! I’ve already thrown the one I had this issue out there. When asked where she got that line, she says “it’s from something I read once.” Strange.

MM: Shh! That’s a spoiler from the next issue!

CO: Whoops!

MM: Well, that wraps it up for today’s edition of Study Hall. This issue and the next issue are the two issues Nick told us to read before we got to issue #10, so you better hold on to your boots because it’s about to get real up in here.

CO: I can’t wait for it to get all real up in here, yo!

//TAGS | MGA Study Hall

Matthew Meylikhov

Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."


Crit Obara

Crit Obara is a longtime friend of Matthew's. He previously covered LOST for MC, and now co-writes MGA Study Hall. He is the man behind the curtain of and you can follow him on Twitter @crittweets.


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