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 #36, the Ian issue. Today’s issue is issue #36, the Ian issue. Today’s issue is issue #36, the Ian issue.
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.
Crisis with Infinite Ians
As we continue to learn more and more about the characters, we finally get to learn Ian’s big secret: that there’s actually a whole lot of Ians out there! Yes, it appears that our young friend Ian was the project of Oliver Simon, who we first saw in issue #26 (and who is modeled after James Callis), and the Ian that we know is but one of many Ians from a project that he was working on eleven years ago.
The details are still a little scarce, mind you. While the end reveals that there are at least six Ians out there, it doesn’t say how or why, and that opens up a brand new mystery box. Truth be told, there could be just one Ian who has the power to create multiple versions of himself, let alone having been cloned by Simon (which I believe is the general implication). Ian could also be a robot, or perhaps the multiple versions of Ian were pulled out of different realities. Heck, it could be like with the Jun/Hisao and they could just be identitcal brothers. Or perhaps he could be the physical manifestation of some eternal being or idea (Simon does refer to him as being from the realm of superstition and myth) – it’s a bit impossible to tell at this point, though it is easy to speculate.
We know that powers exist to some extent, and the multiple Ian thing we’ve got going on here could ostensibly be tied to that. At this point all theories are welcome. Personally? I’m probably throwing my money under “genetically engineered super child.” At the very least I think a genetically modified test tube baby is plausible, right?Continued below
Because what is clear is that this (whatever “this” is) was done for a reason, and that reason is to harness a rather unholy power. Taking Simon’s comment about working in the realm of “superstition and myth” into context, it would appear that Ian here is inherently something that is not supposed to exist alongside science. We’d seen the Truants enter a Sumerian temple dedicated to Enki in the past and be referred to as gods, so it’s possible that – coupled with the recurring “so we created our own gods” line in the book – that science (via Simon) is literally attempting to harness the power of a supreme incorporeal being, and in this instance it’s Oliver Simon experimenting with Ians.
In other words: Ian is the god we created. Or, one of them. At least an attempt at one.
Unfortunately there is no god of cloning (unless you count Michael Keaton). So, for my particular bet, I would wager that Ian and his identical brothers were created by Simon as part of a larger experiment to capture something that is the stuff of legend, and now they’re passing on the most successful one onto Casey for Abraham.
A Cult of Personalities
The thing that I find noticeable about the final Ian scene (besides that there’s, y’know, a whole bunch of Ians) is that each one seems to be experiencing different emotions at once. None of them are getting along, none of them are interacting with one another. They’re all existing as separate entities that all seem to in turn embody specific aspects about what we often see from children.
This could mean very little in the grand scheme of things. I’d guess that the script noted the different actions of the Ians throughout the book and simply had them collide on the last page, allowing Joe to take the things he has learned from watching his son grow up and bring it to life.
But, I suppose in a column that likes to pick apart at everything and get into the nitty gritty tin-hat fandom of it all, I’d be remiss if I didn’t know that an interesting idea could be that the reason Clarkson asks towards which Ian is the right Ian could possibly be that one of the results of creating the different Ians is that they come with differing personalities based on extremes. One Ian is a builder, another is clever, another is angry, etc, etc.
I’m not saying that any one particular variant of Ian isn’t capable of a whole range of emotion, but I would imagine that this could be the largest reason for creating multiple versions of the same person — because as they grow, they start to differ in noticeable ways, and in turn only one of them becomes “right” towards whatever goal the Academy is seeking in its inductees.
Who Do You Trust?
Interestingly enough, what this scene really opens up is a massive basket of mistrust that we can now throw at every character in the series.
One of the thoughts very early on was that there were clones, back when we first met the second Fukuyama and didn’t know he was a brother (issue #2). Now we know that in the construct of this universe, the possibility of a created human does seemingly exist as a potential element, which certainly begs the question: to what extent are any of the cast that we’ve met not entirely “real.”
Or rather, it is now more distinctly possible that there are those amongst the cast who are more than they appear to be. Not just in the way of knives in proverbial shadows, but rather sleepers of a kind laying in wait, perhaps unaware of what they really are. It’s not like you’d know you were a robot until someone was able to turn you off, right?
And what if they are gods, even? Some of the powers that they display are rather unbelievable; Jade and Hunter can travel through time and share dreams, the Fukuyamas can swap bodies, Irina and the Truants can push places out of sync with their timelines and Casey can do whatever she wants if she thinks hard enough about it. Ian knows that he’s not a real boy (so to say), but that possibility is essentially open for just about everyone. If you had thought that everyone wasn’t exactly what they seemed before, then that aspect has pretty much been tripled.Continued below
But there’s a bigger aspect that I’d like to address here.
A Question of Fathers
Ian refers to Simon as his father. Ok. Fair enough.
But what do we really know about the Headmaster?
The way I phrased this is probably reminiscent of a question I’d throw directly to Nick to put him on the spot, but bear with me. We know that Irina and Georgina are sisters, and we know that Lara and Georgina are sisters. We know that they were all born from women (ok, we assume for Irina and Georgina, as we didn’t exactly see those), but we don’t exactly know the circumstances of their birth.
What if like Ian? What if they were attempts at creating gods?
Ian’s existence is certainly up in question as to the why of it all, and yes, this in turn leads me to ask questions about all of the characters of the series now, but with the Headmaster being the biggest mystery player of all I do have to wonder what stake in this particular “people creation” game he has. All other children in this book inherently come from parents we’re at least somewhat familiar with, if not parents we’ve directly seen, and while we do not know what special circumstances led them all to be born on the same day we can probably safely assume that the various births that gave us kids like Casey and Jade and Hunter and everyone were done by the normal way of creating life.
It’s Ian that we now know has something special entwined with his birth. And the same can definitely be said for the Headmaster’s girls as well.
Because while we don’t know a lot about what is happening in this scenario, the one thing we do know is happening is that people are, somehow, being engineered in order to be something close to the realm of myth. Whatever that may entail, both literally and spiritually. And we know that the phrase “so we created our own gods” is directly linked to the Academy thanks to its use from Alicia Wyatt in “Morning Glories” #25, so…
Are Irina, Georgina and Lara, with all of their various powers and quirks and all that, actually genetically engineered children in which someone tried to play god in order to make god?
One Last Thing About Created People
The woman at the beginning of the issue brings up an interesting element. So far in discussing who or what Ian is, I’d generally lean towards the side of some iteration of a test tube baby, but Simon’s dry-hump buddy seems to have a voice command, which ostensibly implies that she is not a human but some kind of robot.
The reason I say this is primarily for three reasons. One, we know Simon is a scientist and we know he “created” Ian in some fashion, so it’s certainly possibly that Debbie is a replicant (lets just get it out of the way and reference Blade Runner now, OK? Ok. You know what I mean.). On top of that, when Richmond comes into the room, she doesn’t seem to even notice; her gaze is not shaken, her actions are not remotely interrupted, as if she has one singular goal to accomplish here — which, uh, given the circumstances, would make sense. Last but not least, she’s referred to as ‘Debbie’ in quotation marks, which could be me reading into this a bit much but those little apostrophes due seem to imply that she is not human… or at least that Simon doesn’t view her as human.
Now, this isn’t necessarily the case. For all we know, Debbie could simply be hypnotized. Simon could simply just be an asshole. (Heck, he kind of is regardless.) Or, less likely, Simon could have a power of his own. I don’t think until firm answers are given anything in “Morning Glories” is or ever will be that black and white.
But based on your interpretations and theories about Debbie, I’d wager that that is where most of your thoughts on Ian are probably derived from. In fact, while Debbie is most likely a red herring, she’s also the only clue we have to what Ian could be. She’s at least definitely the hint, the one aspect of the book that stands out more upon your second re-read, and I think that first page informs us a lot of who Simon is. Based on that, your interpretations on the Ians may certainly vary.Continued below
What’s In A Name, Anyway?
Since this is always fun, lets get this one out of the way now. In terms of names, Oliver is a name that means “affectionate.” Simon means “listening.” Neither seem to be Oliver’s speciality.
Ian, on the other hand, means “gift from God.” Pretty apropos given literally everything we just discussed, right?
An Interesting Discrepancy
So, here’s something to think about.
In this issue, we see that Doctor Richmond, whom we first met as a teacher at Abraham’s camp, is working for/with Dr. Simon. As we also see, Clarkson (aka Casey) has arrived at his facility in order to pick-up an Ian. However, as we all know thanks to some convenient dramatic irony, both Clarkson and Richmond end up working with/for Abraham, whose camp Ian is assumedly being retrieved for.
The question then becomes, what is Richmond’s relation to Abraham? Richmond is Vanessa’s mother and she clearly has a link to the Special Children and would perhaps want to study them, but here she is working with Dr. Simon as a colleague. So is it safe to say that she left Simon’s facility to join with Abraham later? Or is it something more complex, due to her arrival at the school with Simon in the future in this issue? Richmond’s role in the school is understated so far as we only know bits and pieces of her, but we do know that her and Clarkson have further interaction based on their one panel in #26.
Or is it Clarkson’s actions we should be questioning instead? Perhaps it is Clarkson that gets Richmond to come to Abraham’s camp, although we don’t technically know that Richmond ever really left Simon (considering, again, they’re together here in the end). Not only that, Clarkson states that she is a representative of Simon’s benefactor and that this project predates her involvement, which opens up the question of whether or not she’s actually working on behalf of Abraham here at all. We all assume, sure, and last issue with Fortunato implies that he was being taken to Abraham’s stronghold, but Casey is ostensibly working for Hodge after all.
Richmond’s role in the camp is more double-sided than we had initially assumed, and the interwoven web of interactions is becoming more difficult to follow – like a thousand plates being spun where no one can tell who is spinning what anymore.
Ok, so, before we call this edition of MGASH a wrap, there’s one more thing we have to talk about, right? And that’s what happens in the Now.
In the present, Ian is released from school jail. He heads to his dorm where he immediately takes a nap, and moments later arrives at the shared dreamscape hangout of the AV Club, reuniting with all of his cohorts as they discuss the psychic paper which is actually not psychic paper because duh Hunter don’t you know anything. (It is most definitely not a dig at MGASH, because I’ve certainly not mentioned psychic paper multiple times or anything. Oops. Nerd card revoked.)
What is particularly interesting about this scene, however, is that for their first story that they want to cover in “The Answer” (the name of their newspaper and, most likely, another playful jab at us “Morning Glories” fandom folks) is that someone is arriving on campus. We find that out to be Simon and Richmond, but what’s actually important about the scene is that they travel to a real world location in a dream.
And what’s more important about? They still hide.
This is what’s causing me a bit of a headache. See, the original assumption we had about the AV Club is that they all go to sleep at the same time and meet up in their little dreamworld; that somehow, whether you want to call it magic or a power, they have the ability to connect in dreams. It made sense too, since they were visiting a location we’d been to before (albeit a future version of it) that was completely different than what we’d last seen (again — future stuff). But now we know that it is somewhat beyond that, because they’re traveling around in the real world as if it were not a dream, and that to me is troublesome.Continued below
The nature of dreams has certainly been called into question in the series before. Jade has gone to the future in her dreams, both that of a day and the far-off. Hunter as well has done his fair share of dream traveling, receiving melons for Mr. N and such. And we’ve had Descartes and we’ve had Zhaungzi’s butterfly and Plato’s cave and all of these ideas that blur what reality is, whether reality is non-local (Bell’s theorem) and more, all essentially pointing to the idea that we can’t trust dreams not to be real.
We know there’s some kind of statute of limitations here because Hannah can’t travel with them (and, for the record, she’s used as the reminder that they’re in a dream at all), so what is actually happening here? Are they in fact traveling to a different location in body as well as mind? Are they perhaps some sort of spectre that is able to move around and still be seen (they do all duck down behind rocks to avoid being seen)? Is there an easy line drawn between the physical and the metaphysical here?
Or is that Simon and Richmond are being brought in through dreams too?
And even further, Richmond and Simon are brought in through a building, but is that actually the entryway to the school? It’s not what we saw when Hodge arrived in issue #12, let alone the kids in their limo. Guys. What’s going on. There are so many questions.
Oh! And Easter Eggs
I’ve been really failing at these lately, haven’t I? Well, here’s a couple notes.
In Ian’s childroom, where we first see him as a little boy, behind him you can see Quackers from “Stuff of Legend,” as well as a lightsaber (and what I think is a riff on a generic He-Man type doll).
In the AV Club, Hunter can be seen wearing a t-shirt for Felicia Day’s The Guild. The posters for Dark City, Akira, Total Recall and Solaris all make a return as well.
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 arcContinued below