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 #35, The Fortunato issue. This one is a doozy, to say the least.
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.
Super Spy Clarkson
As we open nine years ago, the sequence from the past that we see here should be familiar to most. It was first visited in issue #26, when we saw a few random moments from Casey’s life as Clarkson, albeit for one panel at a time. What we didn’t know then and know now is that the scene (specifically the last panel of the third page, which was in issue #26) is that the scene was about Clarkson recruiting Fortunato.
We also get to see Casey use her powers of mind control to take out all the guards, so it’s a clear indication that she has been able to develop her abilities and talents more over time.
A lot over the course of “Morning Glories” is something that I could lean in close and whisper the plot thickens! in your general direction over, but this one I feel is important to point out. While it’s not exactly fully understandable yet, what becomes a little more clear is what Clarkson’s recruiting is all about. When we last saw her doing this, it was back in issue #30 when she picked up Irina to assumedly bring her to Abraham, which is indicating to me that Casey is essentially in charge of picking up her own “enemy” (so to speak) as an agent for Hodge, since it all links back to her in the end.
That’s what makes it Murky, though, as Hodge is a known member of the Academy. We know that Hodge is up to something though we don’t quite know what, so is this further confirmation that Abraham’s camp is the “bad guy” of the series, or is it instead related towards Hodge’s cloak and dagger games against the Academy — a game that I’d remind you she admitted to losing in issue #29.Continued below
It’s hard to tell if we are supposed to root against or for Clarkson at this point, but based on what happens to Fortunato, the outlook doesn’t look very good.
There’s also a nice little joke about how Clarkson and Daramount look similar that I found quite hilarious.
The Return of the Book of Psalms
So, in the “now” time, we get quite a tragic scene. In the aftermath of the Truants’ attempted coup at the Academy, Fortunato is now locked up in a basement as Harry and Barry (my two new favorite guards) beat him to a pulp. It’s a sad state of affairs, especially since Irina — the girl who orchestrated the entire thing — is in a nice, lush apartment being treated rather amicably, all things considered. Poor Fortunato.
As he’s being beaten, however, Fortunato begins to mutter a few words — “His Rod and His Staff, they comfort me”/”I will fear no evil.” These lines are from Psalms 23, which you may somewhat recognize since the Book of Psalms is perhaps the most referenced book in the series, such as with the compassing of death. The full passage is:
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
This is spoken by David as he describes God, and is a portion of Psalms that is used by both Jewish and Christian traditions. It should certainly be a familiar passage to most readers, I would imagine, and it is often read as funerals (which doesn’t bode well for Fortunato).
(It was also used in that Coolio song. Remember that? Heh. Coolio.)
This is the only biblical reference in the issue, which struck me as interesting. I’ve heard this in media used by characters before as something they say to themselves during times of strife, but all other references in previous issues seemed to link together to give hints towards ideas in the series. I’m not saying this doesn’t, it probably does in a way that I’ve just not picked up on here; it’s also worth mentioning that this is the start of the new arc, so we can probably expect new ideas and references to be made towards something else. But it did strike me as interesting that our one big reference didn’t offer up any great clues towards the bigger mysteries of the series.
Which, you know, isn’t a bad thing. If anything, it just tells us a lot about Fortunato and his faith. You kind of get the impression he thought he was going to die.
The Bitch is Back
Well, it looks like the Daramount we once knew is officially back, right? When we first met her in issue #1, we saw Daramount as the chief adversary to our characters; she’s scheming and potentially maniacal, even if she always had some kind of plan in action. In the later issues of the series, we began to identify more with Daramount (especially when she lost the children and was beaten by the Headmaster) as Hodge became less trustworthy.
But this issue reminds us – there’s a reason why we always saw her as an antagonist.
Of course, what makes this sad is that for all we know, Daramount liked Fortunato. Back in issue #27 when Daramount learned Fortunato was a Truant, she called him out by name to remark how disappointing it was, and she echoes similar sentiments here. Even here she calls him “teacher’s pet” and her star pupil, which begs the question of what their relationship was really like in the school.This scene becomes personal; she’s hurting him to send a specific message to others — and whereas I know that a lot of readers don’t trust Fortunato, I would imagine the torture sequence probably won him over a bit to a few.Continued below
This in turn ties back to how she was unable to get him in the first place, which obviously shows that there is more to the story of Fortunato and how he came to be at the Academy. He was clearly someone that Daramount was looking for, so him enrolling years later after leaving Abraham’s camp surely caused some kind of wave (and the idea that the staff was familiar with the enrolled kids has been addressed previously, back in #33).
What stands as noteworthy about the torture, though, is that Daramount chooses to whip Fortunato of all things. It’s maybe a bit innocuous at first, but it’s decidedly connected to something that Daramount herself underwent in the last season. Considering that when she exited the Greenhouse in issue #20 she had apparently been whipped herself, it brings up the question: does whipping run in the family and Daramount felt like doing to others what was done to her … or is it possible that when in the Greenhouse, Daramount whipped herself?
It’s something I’ve thought about in this issue quite a bit. After all, we didn’t see anyone else in the Greenhouse and she was clearly punished for her actions. Self-flagellation does have a religious historical component, and given recurring religious elements of the book (such as Fortunato’s prayer in this issue, let alone others), it is perhaps not too far a jump to think that the whip used on Daramount herself is apropos to the one used here.
Of course, she could just be paying it forward. It’s tough to tell, and it depends on your thoughts about who or what the Headmaster is. There’s definitely a connection there.
And, let us not forget that that’s not the only example of whipping we’ve ever seen in the book, as we saw slaves whipped in a previous issue, way back in issue #13 when Casey first traveled through time. It is just as much about making someone work as it is about punishing them, so it’s a tough-up. I’d lean more towards punishment though.
Daramount also makes mention of Clarkson as a guardian angel (while Clarkson calls Daramount “someone very dangerous”), which alludes that Daramount is aware of Clarkson. I’m not entirely sure, though — Daramount may know that someone is out there, if not that it is this Clarkson person, and there’s no way of knowing if Daramount knows who Clarkson really is. Which brings us to…
In a scene that is perhaps going to be hotly debated, Casey has the opportunity to take out Daramount… and doesn’t. She and Fortunato uses their mind control powers against Daramount and they work, which gives her the perfect opportunity to take down her former tormentor.
So, ok, first of all: Casey and Fortunato use the mind control powers here. This begs the question — does Casey ask him to pray simply to have him pray, or is she using his power to help her overcome Daramount, who is assuredly more skilled than her? It’s in an interesting debate, I think, as both options are plausible.
The reason I think both options are particularly plausible as a) Fortunato uses prayer as a defense against Daramount in the future, b) Casey even makes reference to it a little later, as not the first time he’s made something like that happen — though how much she is shifting to him I think is unknown and c) when Fortunato is kidnapped, he is gagged. It’s probably an afterthought, something that was maybe done for mood and setting, but it’s perhaps worth a few thoughts in noting that his kidnappers didn’t want him to speak. It is alluded here that Fortunato has pwoer that he has used without knowing about it, and it’s probably likely that Daramount — in trying to get him, literally by having hitmen kidnap him — would give instruction make sure he couldn’t say anything.
He does seem rather important, after all. Though we’ll talk about that a bit more later.
So, why doesn’t Casey shoot Daramount?
At first guess I’d say it has to do with keeping the timeline in sync, and knowing she can’t remove Daramount without damaging the timestream (even though Hodge told her she could do whatever she wanted back in #16). Daramount has to do a lot to help put Casey even in this sequence of events, so removing her from the timeline — even with reality being non-local — could upset this via the butterfly effect to a detrimental degree. That’s my first guess.Continued below
At a second read I’d say that it is perhaps possible that Casey feels some kind of attachment to Daramount. Casey becoming Clarkson did seem to be a nod to Daramount in a fashion (as mentioned earlier, which she is sick of hearing and which is still funny), and given all that Casey has been doing as Clarkson it’s perhaps plausible that she even relates to what Daramount has done for her cause. Because, like I said, while we look at Daramount as an antagonist, we did get to know her a bit better over the last arc, even to a point where we felt that she was more trustworthy than Hodge — and Hodge’s whole introduction was about how we should trust her!
So it’s possible that Casey “gets” Daramount on a different level. I’ve always linked them pretty closely; I had once assumed that Casey grows up to be Daramount, and in a way she did. Clarkson is pretty much Casey’s version of Daramount anyway, so there’s probably a little bit of love there. Relationships are weird.
Ultimately, though, we can assume that Casey/Clarkson has some knowledge we don’t, and depending how you read that page and her emotional reaction to the notion of putting a bullet in Daramount, it opens up quite a few interesting ideas of what has changed in Casey’s mind since going on her Clarkson Adventures.
What Did You See When Your Eyes Were Opened?
Daramount blinding Fortunato is a very interesting move, on a number of levels. First of all, her direct and antagonizing line — in reference to the oft-repeated and mysterious line assumedly involving some kind of spiritual awakening held by the students and their powers — is very much a pointed attack at what brings all these students to the school in the first place. That’s the most easy to pick at one.
Of course, we can in turn ask if the use of vision is directly related to the use of powers (I don’t think it is; it always seemed like a metaphor), but if anything is going to send a message it’s that Daramount poked out a student’s eyes for disobeying her.
However, the bigger thing to look at here is that she did after Fortunato continued his prayer, almost as an attack against his belief system. I don’t think Daramount is particularly petty; she has her beliefs, she wants respect and she will take the obvious steps to ensure her reign. But with her and Fortunato clearly having a relationship and with Fortunato’s religion also clearly being important to him, it would appear that she takes away his eyesight as a direct attack against that. You can even say that … Fortunato was blinded by faith.
Lastly, Fortunato being blinded seems like an interesting parallel to what’s happening with Irina. For all intents and purposes, we can probably assume that Fortunato was Irina’s second-in-command, which would somewhat explain Daramount’s anger in this scenario. In fact, you might even be able to assume that part of the reason that she’s going so hard on him, in addition to her own dismay that he ostensibly betrayed her, is because she can’t do anything to Irina; Daramount even makes a point of saying that she went out of her way to make sure she could do something to Fortunato after Hodge freed the others (which is perhaps Hodge attempting a new plan with her crew?). It’s certainly possible.
Just Who Is Fortunato Medeiros?
So. Fortunato Medeiros. His father is dead, he has some kind of power, faith is a big part of his life and most readers did not trust him. Some may still not. Daramount certainly has a fondness for him and flat out buys him, killing his father in the process (I assume), and Casey goes to extraordinary lengths to get him to Abraham and his camp and describes him as “very, very valuable.” And as we finally learn his last name, I can tell you that Medeiros is a surname relating to an order of knights, warrior monks and nobles aligned with the Knights Templar, and it means “what causes fear.”
Given all of that and what occurs in this issue, it stands as reasonable that there is something special about Fortunato. Fortunato is someone worth killing over, and that both sides of the battle want him to use his power for them. Within the quiet young man that is Fortunato lies an incredibly powerful person that could be a key player in any upcoming battle that may take place in the series. And despite all that happens to him in the issue — heck, perhaps because of all the things that happen to him, I would still assume that Fortunato is in fact something to fear.Continued below
Also of note: Fortunato slept during his car ride towards Abraham’s camp, and woke up with a POV shot, just like the Glories/Casey did way back in issue #1. Coincidence? I think not!
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