Hello and welcome back to MGA 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 #31, where Hunter takes the spotlight in his second character-centric issue of the series.
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:
For more details, click the image above. As for myself, I’ve got theorizing to do. Let’s kick it off.
News Bit #1: MGA Study Hall is Coming to NYCC 2013!
Well, in case you missed it, let me be the first to tell you: this column is going to be LIVE this year at NYCC!
Yes, you read that correctly. Nick, Joe and I are going to sit down together in front of a live audience to talk about the book. I will try to see what secrets we can trick them into saying, there will be some visuals to go along with the panel and it should be a good time for “Morning Glories” fans to get together. OH, and, yes: if you attend the panel, there will be time for you to get up and ask Nick and Joe (and me, if you want) questions directly. We won’t skimp on the Q&A, rest assured.
Here’s all the relevant information:
Title: Morning Glories Study Hall LIVE!
Time: 6:45PM – 7:45PM
Speakers: Joe Eisma, Matthew Meylikhov, & Nick Spencer
Description: From the hit annotation column on Multiversity Comics, it’s MGA Study Hall Live! Join creators Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma as they discuss their hit Eisner-nominated and New York Times Bestselling Image Comics series “Morning Glories” with MGA Study Hall host Matthew Meylikhov, including a live Q&A segment. Questions will be asked, answers will be avoided and all will be well – for a better future.
So, join us! If you haven’t bought a ticket for NYCC, now is the time to, right? You totally have to.
I believe it is going to be streamed live as well, although I could be wrong about it. So if you can’t make it, that may be an option for you. But don’t hedge your bets on that.Continued below
News Bit #2: The Second “Morning Glories” Deluxe Hardcover Has Finally Arrived
In stores now, in addition to the latest issue of “Morning Glories,” the second deluxe hardcover collecting the latter half of season one is now available. It is PACKED with extras, all about the art, and it’s a damn great companion to your collection. Even if you already own all the issues, I’d recommend grabbing it. It makes referencing the book easier, and it’s really well put together — with all credit going towards Tim Daniel for that.
I wrote the intro to it too, but that’s hardly a selling point. Unless you think I’m really nifty, in which case: thank you!
Alright, lets begin:
In Memoriam: Zoe
Zoe didn’t get a spot in this issue’s memoriam ceremony so we’ll have to give her one here: Alas, poor Zoe! We knew her, reader: a character of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.
Our great eulogy aside, it begs the question… why didn’t Zoe get memorialized alongside Amanda, Chad, Steve, Maggie and (the real) Jun? Aside from the fact that she was the murderer of almost all of the kids in this sequence (Jun was killed by David in #23), it’s not like this is something the other students knew in anything but rumors; Zoe was ultimately just as familiar as any other student to the overall student body, really, and it seems strange that the school would cover up her death in such a fashion. Hunter makes note that her body is in the basement, and while we’ve seen bodies in the school morgue before, given the strange events we’ve seen down in the basement previously overall it’s probably a good guess that the school is doing something to the body – especially since we saw some of the kids being memorialized here in body bags as far back as issue #12. Maybe it’s just on hold?
I’d wager that this is related to one of two things: who killed her or why she did it. In regards to the latter, Zoe’s motivation was never truly revealed. On the one hand she could be homicidal given her past, but it’s never so black and white as that in the pages of “Morning Glories.” There also seemed like something about her that wasn’t revealed to us, with my theory being that there was something else inside her – the manipulative schoolgirl Zoe and then the Predator Zoe, the one that Woodrun was done to catch. Perhaps they’re trying to understand where this Other Zoe comes from, or how it ostensibly takes over her.
As for the former reason, well, where the other kids were killed by Zoe, Zoe herself was killed by Irina. And we know that the school has a strange fascination with Irina. The two items could be linked.
“Death is Just Part of a Cycle”
Speaking of the memorial service, the wonderful Miss Dagney makes mention of two theories of the afterlife. One could presume that this is just a throwaway reference of comfort given the multi-cultural aspect of the book, but in “Morning Glories” references are made for us to research and think upon. Lets do that.
First, there’s Saṃsāra, the repeated cycle of birth, death and reincarnation prevalent in Hinduism and Buddhism. The basic summation is that your current life is only one of many, and is a repeat iteration throughout all of existence. Every action you take in this life effects future iterations of you, but they’re all ostensibly the same at the core; variants on a particular theme, so to say. There is no beginning and there is no end – and if I’m not mistaken, those two lines were in the solicitation for issues #27 and #28, were they not? (Spoiler: they were.)
The second thing mentioned by Dagney is Orpheus, “father of songs.” Orpheus was a legendary musician, poet and prophet in ancient Greece. The most famous story of Orpheus finds him traveling to the underworld to save his wife Eurydice, where after convincing Hades to release her he is told they can both leave as long as Orpheus does not turn around to look upon her until they leave the underworld, which he fails to do and loses her forever. What is being reference here in “Morning Glories,” though, is that Orpheus was one of the few who was able to travel between worlds – at least via his soul. Orpheus was able to explore two planes of existence – the mortal plane, where we are, and the immortal plane of his soul within the underworld.Continued below
So, take the two and combine them together and what do you have? Eternally reincarnated souls traveling between two planes of existence.
Or, in other words, Dagney may have basically just explained one of the biggest aspects of the series to all of the students, and vicariously to us, in regards to what one of the underlying aspects of the series is. I’ve theorized before that this has all happened before and will all happen again in one form or another, and this would go along with many theories both myself and other people have — especially in related to time travel and recurring scenes and motifs throughout the book. After all, if they’re all just one cycle repeating itself throughout time via souls inhabiting different planes, that could even explain the white lights surrounding “the sorrows of death compassing me” or even what is perhaps wrong with David. Heck, it would flat out 100% explain the Hunter/Descartes connection, if nothing else.
The point of this being: that first page may be one of the most important pages in the entire series, let alone this one issue.
The Last Man
When Hunter returns to his dorm, Ike is laying in his bed reading “The Last Man” by Mary Shelley (whose name you may recognize from a little-known book called “Frankenstein”). A post-apocalyptic science fiction novel, “The Last Man” is a book in which the world has been destroyed and ravaged by a plague. While the book itself referenced a lot of Shelley’s life and acquaintances, the plague itself is a metaphor for the destruction of the elite, removing the human element from life and in a sense showing that those who believe themselves to matter above all matter very little in the face of utter destruction, dissolution and chaos.
Which, when being read by Ike, is kind of funny.
There are other ways we could connect “The Last Man” to aspects of the book. It inherently references a certain sense of isolation, which Ike is probably feeling right now, but in that the book references Shelley directly an element of the book explicitly nods towards the community Shelley was a part of falling apart — which, again, shows an obvious parallel to what is happening with our main characters right now.
It could also be nothing. I would remind you that we’ve seen Guillaume in a similar position as Ike reading “The Count of Monte Cristo” before, and that was apparently deliberate. So who knows?
In Search of Answers
Hunter goes to the library of the school (which we’d previously seen back in #4, which is where this column got its title) in order to find the book of his dreams, a Test Answer Book that could supposedly have the answers we all seek to what’s going on at the school. While searching through piles and piles of books, he finds no answers– but he does encounter Andres and Hannah (who we’ll talk about later) who give him a lesson trying to make sense of dreams.
There’s a lot to discuss about dreams, most of which are hinged upon this issue’s final reveal, but what Andres tells him is pretty interesting. The basic gist of it is that Hunter is not fully convinced he’s dreaming (which is a totally fair assumption), and Andres tells him that he’s trying too hard to make some kind of meaning of it all. He even impresses Hunter by finding the missing poem from his dreams by choosing a poem at random out of a book, suggesting that any work Hunter is doing is essentially in vain because the answers will find him not the other way around.
Andres also lays down some rules that we inherently need to follow. He states to hunter that dreams are chaos, and what works once will not work again the same time — meaning that Hunter can not simply open a book and find the answer again. But what is important about this bit of dialogue is that Andres is essentially saying that the system in place, however we want to define it, can be cheated by simply outsmarting it — or rather, by applying a certain lack of logic.Continued below
It’s funny; this whole column is based around the notion of research and understanding. That’s literally the only point of it. But if what Andres is saying is correct, then we’re going about this wrong way. The answers are here, but in over-thinking it and searching too hard, we won’t be able to find them.
It’s like he’s taunting us.
And, granted, this won’t stop me (or you, or anyone) from over-analyzing the series or digging deep into it, but he brings up a valid point.
Also of note is this that Andre is essentially grooming Hunter for what we’ll get more into later when we meet the rest of the AV Club. His line of dialogue is very carefully picked — he questions the idea of when Hunter is asleep or dreaming (like something straight out of Inception) and he mentions that some form of guilt is haunting him and obstructing his vision and clarity… that only by getting passed that will he see the truth.
And you’ll know by now if you’ve read the end of the issue that, once Hunter absolves himself of Zoe’s death, he begins to see something new.
The AV Club
Welcome to the AV Club! We have Andres (whose name means “strong,” “manly” or “brave” and I suppose that lines up for his social attitude), Hannah (whose name means “favor” or “grace”) and Esi (meaning “born on a Sunday”, which implies a certain amount of holiness), and they hang out in the Shire-like place that Hunter and Zoe previously visited back in issue #15, where it was found to hold a lab that blew up.
We also learn that Akiko and Ian are members of the AV Club. I suppose in a manner of speaking we could see their inclusion in both the Truants and the AV Club as them betraying one group of the other; if anything, I’d wager the AV Club since they were trained by Abraham to be Truants. But if they’ve infiltrated the group, the question would be why? (Or do they just really like movies? I mean, Ian clearly does, and Akiko references X-Men so…)
Oh, and we have posters for 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Usual Suspects, Dark City, Total Recall, Solaris, Akira and Alien (in that order) as well as a t-shirt referencing Star Wars. I’m going to go ahead and guess they don’t have much to do with anything in terms of specific references. But if the series ends with Hunter in space as a floating baby, I’ll eat my words. Although there is a direct reference to the Usual Suspects and the line “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist,” which seems rather apropos for a lot of the series let alone this scene.
The reason that Hunter is at the AV Club is because they’re indoctrinating him to their group. Hunter seems like a good guy and they see like a good group of kids, ones who believe in non-violence, so why not bring in this new guy who seems to have some grand destiny to him? Besides, Maggie — you remember Maggie, right? The girl eulogized at the beginning of the issue who Zoe killed in #15? — vouched for him as a worthwhile addition to the cause.
See, the AV Club is aware of the weirdness of the school in the same way that Hunter is, and they want to do something about it. They want to take the school down in their own, in the non-violent way, and they’re going to use journalism to do it! Yes! And they’re going to use secret psychic paper to do so.
Lets make that a header.
The Secret Psychic Paper
The first time we ever heard about the secret psychic paper (a term I’m partially stealing from Doctor Who) is issue #12 when we first met Lara Hodge. During her introduction, she showed a bunch of blank papers to Hunter and asks him what he sees. What did he see? Nothing.
Now? Now he’s apparently able to see messages directed exclusively at him, which is how he gets into the AV Club.
But when Esi explains how the newspaper will work, he doesn’t see anything again. So perhaps what we can extrapolate from this is that with the secret psychic paper, you can only see it a) if your eyes are opened (which is what Esi says) and b) if it is directed to you. The latter could be how the kids plan to try and get around Hodge finding out what they’re doing, since they are aware of her abilities and need to act in secret. If they could somehow find a way to deliver secret psychic papers on some kind of frequency that Hodge can’t perceive, it would be a good way to get their message out.Continued below
So. What do we know?
We know that the AV Club can communicate with each other through clandestine means. We know that Maggie vouched for Hunter to enter the group. We know that Zoe killed Maggie with little to no motivation.
Or, perhaps: was the reason that Zoe killed Maggie because she knew somehow who or what Maggie was, what group she belonged to, and that she was trying to steer Hunter away from them? Especially since, for all we know, regular Zoe is not necessarily conscious of what the Predator Zoe does, and Hunter seems to have some kind of grand destiny to him that someone is seemingly pushing him towards (such as Clarkson, for example, who menaced Hunter’s doctor and recruited Irina).
And since Zoe got caught in the act and was overtaken by the Predator, is that the reason she tried to kill Hunter? She just got lost in the moment and let her wild side take the wheel?
Little Hunter in Dreamland
The last thing particularly of note in this issue is Hunter’s excessively vivid dreams. It turns out that the latter half of the issue in which Hunter meets the AV Club was all in his mind via a dream; one of the kids in the AV Club seems to have the ability to reach out and tap into his unconscious state and influence him, as well share a dream experience with others, and it explains how they’re able to meet in secret in a location whose interior we’ve seen. (It also explains how they could smuggle so many posters into the Academy, or Star Wars fandom t-shirts, and it explains why Hunter was brought into the Shire but actually ended up in the AV Club’s secret dream hangout space.)
This wouldn’t be the first time someone communicated to Hunter in his dreams, as Irina communicated to him via dreams back in issue #19 (so the assumption went, and issue #19 is directly referenced here). Hunter seems particularly receptive to this kind of trance-like state – so now we get to wonder where the ability to traverse and influence a dreamscape comes from, and what this aspect of “mind control” has in regards to the other mind influencing abilities we’ve seen at the school (Casey’s suggestions, Hodge’s papers, etc) – because, really, all the powers we’ve seen seem to be related to mental prowess inherently brought on by extreme focus or variants of meditation (see: Irina in issue #25, floating and assumedly incepting Hunter’s brain in issue #19 – remember Hunter being asleep during this sequence?).
However, this kind of psychic ability of a sort seems prevalent to those students that have had their eyes “opened,” which seems to infer some kind of spiritual aspect to it… or at the very least it could be what the Academy is attempting to access, harness and train students to use (for a better future). So there are students at the Academy who know what is going on because their eyes have been opened, and it allows them extra-sensory abilities. But not all of them are letting the Academy know about this, and that seems very important to whatever action is going to unfold soon.
Hunter’s not the only dream walker here, mind you. We have seen Jade have just as vivid dreams as Hunter, such as back in issue #10 when she first met her older self. The question that this issue really poses is how much of what Hunter experienced in the last arc was in fact real. Jade’s dreams were just that; they were vivid and even precognitive, but they were dreams. Hunter’s dreaming here seems all the more real, though – and therein lies the question of where reality for Hunter ends or begins. I’d assume his interactions with the Truants was real as others experienced it, but given how heavily his story with Future Jade seemed to be reliant upon what happened to Descartes, it seems possible that it happened… but also didn’t.
I’m sure this will be revisited later. You can count on it, even.
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.)Continued below
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. There may be other announcements coming as well.
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