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 #33, which is only going live after I’ve fully secured myself away in a bunker to avoid fan wrath.
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: MGA Study Hall Live at NYCC, and How the Lack of Recording is ALL MY FAULT
So, last week on Friday night we held our first ever Morning Glories Study Hall LIVE! Panel at New York Comic Con to a relatively full room in the convention center. It was Nick, Joe and I, as well as a power point featuring a video memorial for every death in the series (literally every death), an exclusive look at this issue, this picture and an extensive Q&A session. It was a lot of fun.
But it was not recorded.
I will be up front in saying this is totally my fault. The lack of recording is a mix of my late arrival as I ran from an appearance on another panel (cool brag) followed by my having the wrong connection equipment, leading me to hit record in my program and set the computer aside. A wonderfully helpful tech from the con arrived to set up the power point presentation for us with the right connection equipment, but doing so stopped the recorded and I failed to check to make sure it was still going.
I feel awful about this. I apologize to everyone who was looking forward to hearing it. I will assume that, in addition to the last page reveal of this week’s issue, that’s just additional salt in the wound.
However, Jackie Sunderland did a write-up on the panel, the only one I’ve seen so far, and even though there is no mention of me in it anywhere I’d say it’s pretty accurate. (I probably deserve the lack of mention.)Continued below
Still, I am hoping that this was the first panel of many, and I will not mess up the recording bit next time. We may even get live streaming — who knows? Either way, for my first time ever leading a panel in front of a crowded room, I hope I did OK. Those who were there just get that extra special treat of seeing this column live until we can do it again!
Alright, lets begin:
Ah, so another last name appears in the book. Its been a while!
I’m sure it has been discussed previously, but in case anyone has forgotten Guillaume is essentially the French version of William, derived from the German Willahelm, which means “will” or “desire” (for the WIL part) and “helmet” or “protection” (for the HELM part), which seems to describe Guillaume well enough given that he’s the Truants’ muscle as well as a man with a great desire, as we’ve seen in this issue.
But while that’s not inherently new, I did find an interesting piece of information behind the surname:
The name was probably introduced to England by the Norman after the Conquest of 1066, as the first recording of the surname dates from the early 12th Century (see below). Nicknames were given in the first instances with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities and mental and moral characteristics, as well as supposed resemblance to an animal’s or bird’s appearance or disposition. Thomas Sorel was recorded in 1175 in the Pipe Rolls of Norfolk and William Sorel was mentioned in 1185 in the Records of Templars in England in the 12th Century in Hertfordshire. Anne, daughter of John Sorrell was christened at St. Giles’ Cripplegate, London, on July 25th 1568. Coats of Arms were granted to Sorrell families in Waltham and Stebbings in Essex and Ipswich, in Suffolk, which depicts two ermine lions passant, gardant on a red shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Sorell, which was dated 1130, the Pipe Rolls of Suffolk, during the reign of King Henry 1st, known as “The Lion of Justice”, 1100-1135.
Just something to ponder, given the introduction of Samsara into how we view the cycle of death.
Also: Guillaume is now being put in the same room as Hunter, Ike and Hisao! It’s almost as if these Truants and Glories are being pushed together now or something. We also have the return of “The Last Man” from the previous issue, which we discussed the potential meaning of quite a lot last time.
Six Months Ago
As we saw a glimpse of back in #25, Hisao (who we came to know originally as Jun) is traveling in Tokyo sometime after leaving Abraham’s camp, presumably after Daramount’s raid. Visiting Wo-Mo! Enterprises (to be discussed in a bit), he reaches out to and meets Lara Hodge for the first time in order to strike a deal.
The scene has importance for many reasons, but perhaps one of the more subtle ones is that it actually gives us quite a bit of information about the Fukuyama’s residence at the Academy. We’d seen Hodge and Hisao interact before back in #12 when Hodge was first introduced, and the two seemed to have a sort of familiarity. To us, it meant that Hodge was aligned with Abraham, but as time went on we’ve begun to realize that things aren’t so black and white. Now we see how she got him into the school, and also learn that upper faculty members – presumably at least Daramount, if not Gribbs based on dialogue from issue #2 (re-read it) – are aware of his presence.
However, to get into the school Hisao had to make a compromise, and since Hisao is in fact at the school we know that whoever Hodge wanted, he gave her up – for Abraham, for his brother and for Guillaume; yet another example of the tightrope our character’s walk behind what is ostensibly right or wrong. We’ll go into that a bit more later.
It does open up the question, though: if everyone knew who he was and why was he there, why did they seemingly go along with it? Surely Headmaster knew, and I have my aforementioned hunches that Daramount knew. Maybe not Gribbs because of his line in #2 that he “likes that one,” to which Daramount replies about his predictability (which is why I think she knew), but clearly if Hodge is running a game, then she’s not entirely playing it alone, right? That would be the only way she could get her stuff done.Continued below
It’s becoming interesting to me that as the first character-centric arc went on, we began to see how Abraham fit into the lives of all of these kids. Now, we’re beginning to see it more from the point of Hodge — at least every other issue. Who do you trust?
By the way, this panel is full of nods in the background cast to “20th Century Boys,” Joe’s favorite manga series. Right behind Jun to the left is Kanna, and next to her is Kenji. The guy with the long hair and in the trenchcoat to the right is Otcho.
For those who were at the NYCC panel, I mentioned that there was something in this issue I could not decipher, and that Nick had confirmed it was nothing I could find. That something is Wow-Mo!
I have no idea what this could be. There have been frequent references to wars with China in other issues, but I don’t think this is necessarily related — specifically because, y’know, we’re in Japan. My initial guess I suppose would be some kind of Japanese phonetical something-or-rather, or even a sly combination of names that I’m not keen enough to pick up on, but I’m truly at a loss. I suppose we should keep it in the back of our mind. I guess I’m partially reminded of the Widmore Corporation in a sense; by itself it means very little, but in context that encompasses a greater scope, it means so much more. (I’m talking about LOST, btw.)
However, it is located on Floor 8, Suite 13. That’s certainly on purpose and alongside Hunter’s numbers. Perhaps they’re who is behind them?
The Children’s Crusade
In the classroom scene, that handsome and perhaps familiar looking teacher is discussing Kurt Vonnegut’s most famous novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, and the interaction between protagonist Billy Pilgrim and Vonnegut’s recurring alien race, the Tralfamadorians (who appeared in five of Vonnegut’s books). The alien race experiences reality on a dimension higher than we do, allowing them to have explicit knowledge of both their beginning and ending, taking away the power and importance of both and resounding the race to fatalism with the knowledge that whatever will be will be.
Or, to put it in more familiar text: there is no end and there is no beginning. It’s a variation of Samsara from #31, just from fictional aliens. You could even apply it well enough with Bell’s Theorem.
Of course, in context of Morning Glories we can certainly apply this idea to things we’ve theorized about the book. The notion that everything we’re seeing has happened before and is recurring again in a cycle ties in with this, that the characters are simply playing out parts that they’ve played out before and always will play, and the question of free will’s existence (especially within a written narrative) is rather poignant to the ongoing struggle that the character’s find themselves dealing with throughout the book.
In fact, it’s actually a touch meta; since this is a story with a set beginning and end, there is no free will – and soon, we’ll be able to see the past, present and future in one place. The story will at some point become a finalized product, and so it goes.
The best part about this reference, though? The almost never-referenced anymore subtitle of Slaughterhouse-Five is “The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death.” If that’s not a more apt summation of Morning Glories, I’m not quite sure what is.
And Before You Ask
Yes, that professor is me.
And, yes, the “hang in there” kitty poster is also a nod to me.
Beard Teacher is back!
What Do You Want With Her?
So, lets look back at this for a bit.
The only way that Hisao can get into the school is if he gives up the location of someone to Hodge. We don’t know who specifically, but there certainly are clues. For one, it’s someone who was not a child at Abraham’s camp, as Hodge states that all of the children they didn’t get are currently hiding with cover families and that Hisao wouldn’t know those whereabouts anyway. We also know that the Truants are already at the school, as this scene takes place after Irina makes her attempt on the Headmaster’s life, so it’s not in reference to any of them.Continued below
The only problem is, up until Daramount’s raid on Abraham’s camp, it doesn’t appear that Hisao had any kind of life outside of the facility, given its desert location and assumedly strict rules. So whoever it is that Hodge wants from Hisao has to have been at the camp when he was there while not being a student.
Which, to me, leaves one option: Miss Richmond. The options are rather limited after all, as most of the women Hisao knew are now dead or kidnapped… except for Miss Richmond, whose whereabouts we don’t know. In fact, it might even be safe to say that she’s the one that helped smuggle him out of the camp, thanks partially in part to the handy equipment and/or heads up that Clarkson gave Richmond back in #26 (we assume — there was no dialogue). And after last issue’s shocking reveal regarding what happens to Vanessa by way of Hodge, it stands to reason that Hodge might at some point want to reach out to Vanessa’s mother for who knows what nefarious and dubious reason.
(I suppose an argument could be made for Clarkson being “her” since she was at the camp, but clearly Hodge knows how to get her hands on her, right?)
However, since Hisao is in fact at the school, we know one thing for certain: he did give her up. And whether or not you like him, that certainly puts his ethics into question.
I think we have to ask ourselves what Hisao’s motivations always were, anyway; I’m honestly not quite sure. He could want to get back at the Academy for what they did to his family, but when he arrives at the school he seems to be on a rescue mission more than anything; he didn’t seem to be particularly interested in destroying the school, although there was certainly always time to get there. His motivations, in fact, seemed closer to a) obeying Abraham, b) being reunited with Guillaume and c) saving his brother — those are the three things we know him to be good for, and at least one of those (the first one) doesn’t seem to be anything more than what he does as part of the bargain.
So, with two forms of love on the line, what led Hisao to go Judas? His letter to Guillaume seems pretty incriminating towards the love angle, which I guess is kind of sweet. It doesn’t make it better, but at least there is a truly human angle to which we can probably all relate to. I suppose it comes down to cult logic: Hisao will do the wrong thing and he’ll do it because it is what he has to do, but he’ll justify it in his own way however he can. For him, it’s Guillaume.
Too bad that won’t last.
The Bad Kind of Freaky Friday
Well, now we know why Hisao has been so upset for these past couple issues. Because he’s really actually Jun now.
What’s ultimately most powerful about this scene is that it’s Hisao’s chance to do for Jun what Jun did for Hisao when they were younger, as is illustrated in the sequence of events. When they switched places, Jun (who posed as Hisao) became “the Fukuyama [they] meant to take years ago” and in turn went through quite a bit to the point that he was confirmed as brainwashed up until his dying moments. Now Hisao is given the same opportunity his brother gave him, older but none the more wiser, and has made the ultimate sacrifice to repay the deed that Jun did to him when he was younger. It’s bittersweet, but it also fundamentally changes everything about this group.
See, the Glories as we knew them now have a completely new member, even if they aren’t aware of it. I’m sure they will be soon because this cat is out of the bag, but The Real Jun’s knowledge of the Academy is perhaps unparalleled in this group, as he spent a good deal of time as a main assistant to one of the resident bad guys Reginald Gribbs, with full knowledge of the occult aspect and security elements of the school. Jun has experience and knowledge that the other Glories don’t have and is assumedly aware of his brother’s double-agent nature, so the question is now whether he’ll be a wolf in sheep’s clothing or if he’ll switch sides given what has just occurred. What would you do?Continued below
It’s tricky for Jun, too, as even though he is de-programmed a bit there’s probably still some element of Stockholme Syndrome. At the very least, he clearly has Survivor’s Guilt. That boy is going to be pretty messed up as time goes on, and his penchant towards anger and violence will certainly throw the economy of the gang out of whack, to say the least.
Not All Hope Is Gone
As a last note, it’s perhaps worth noting that Hisao, when he says “Take me,” is bathed in the same light that we’ve seen related to time travel and “the sorrows of death compassed me” from Casey back in issue #16. While it does appear he is gone, we have to keep in mind issue #31’s reference to Samsara (the cycle of life, death and rebirth), this issue’s Slaughterhouse-Five reference and everything we learned about how the characters travel in time with #32; I wouldn’t get my hopes up too high, but there’s a possibility that Hisao is still out there somewhere.
That’s an optimistic way of looking at it, anyway.
But a sacrifice is always demanded.
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. 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