• Morning Glories #47 Cover Annotations 

    MGA Study Hall: Issue #47

    By | August 5th, 2015
    Posted in Annotations | 11 Comments

    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 #47, in which Ike throws a party and everyone has a great time.

    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 sure to check out Tim’s books “Burning Fields” and “Skinned“!

    One more thing before we begin, as I’d like to continue to throw out this short plug:

    Morning Glories
    Every night that a new Morning Glories issue comes out, fans of the book go on TinyChat to discuss it with one another and try and figure out if they can draw meaning from the insanity, not just to the same extent that I do, but times twenty. So if you’re in the mood for chatting instead of just reading theories followed by musing on them in a comment section (which you should still do, mind you — I love chatting in the comment section!), you can join the chat and throw out ideas to a live group of people who are just as excited to talk about the book as you are. I have nothing to do with its creation, but I usually quietly lurk with a goofy username, and both Nick and Joe are known to pop in and offer up teases for things while dodging questions (what, you didn’t think they’d actually answer anything, did you?). It’s a fun time. If you enjoy reading this column, you just might enjoy the TinyChat.

    For more details, click the image above. As for myself, I’ve got theorizing to do. Let’s kick it off.

    The Breather Episode

    As we march on to issue #50 (in three issues!) this issue seems singularly focused on realigning the board as to where everyone is and what their mindset is before whatever upcoming confrontation (the election, the science fair, Towerball) heralds the seasons end. Based on definitions found at TVTropes.org, I was debating whether this issue was a Breather Episode or a Filler Episode; both seem somewhat applicable, as this issue more than any other seems specifically focused on reminding us who is doing what where without actually pushing the book all that much more forward. We know that the night of the party is important because the text specifically says so, but it seems that its importance is derived more as a catalyst than anything else; a few characters finally interact, and everything seems to be at a breaking point as to the aforementioned upcoming events.

    With that in mind, annotations for the issue are a little bit limited. There’s things we can glean from some character interactions, but for the most part this issue is essentially setting up the chessboard. So with that in mind, let’s table it:

    Continued below

    CharacterAt the PartyIn the Story
    CaseySchmoozingPreparing to run in the Election
    HunterCovering the party for the paperInforming the student body of events
    JadeNot presentStill tied up in the basement
    IkeHostingReadying Casey for the upcoming election
    HisaoNot presentStill dead
    ZoeNot presentBeing the Second Coming in Marrakech
    IrinaNot presentTrying to kill the Second Coming in Marrakech
    VanessaMeeting CaseyWorking on a Science Fair Project to communicate outside the Academy
    IanBeing a creepPreparing to use his weird Scantron machine
    AkikoNot presentHanging out with Fortunato
    FortunatoNot presentStill recovering from Daramount and Ian’s beating
    JunBegrudgingly presentPreparing for Tower Ball and killing Jade
    GuillaumeNot dancing to KitsunePreparing for Tower Ball, trying to keep Jun from killing Jade
    AndresOgling dancing girlsInforming the student body of events
    HannahYelling at Andres for Ogling dancing girlsInforming the student body of events
    EsiTrying to figure out what’s going on at the partyInforming the student body of events
    PamelaUnder the tableJust Pamela-ing about

    We also get to see Future Vanessa and Ellen interact, which would imply that there’s an importance to this interaction, Vanessa’s science fair project and what can be done with the walkie talkie device in the final few installments of this season. But we’ll get into this in a bit.

    Nightclub Amnesia

    Like an unplanned crossover with “Forgetless” (Nick Spencer’s mini-series circulating the events of a life-changing night club/party), the central action of this issue finds the student body of Morning Glory Academy dancing the night away in an abandoned storage facility on the outskirts of the campus grounds. And if the opening few pages filled you with a sense of deja vu, it’s to be expected: we last saw this shed back in #36, when Ian and Vanessa’s respective parents were escorted through the door by a particularly snide-looking Daramount. The AV Club even makes mention of this on the first page, and notes that there could be more to the facility than what Ike is showcasing — but this of course begs the question: with what Ike has set up here, have they really gone through the same door that Dr. Simon and Dr. Richards went through? Why would an abandoned storage facility need two guards, or a carpet laid out past the door?

    We know that at the Academy things aren’t always as they seem, and sometimes a door can open to multiple places. That’s the thing about doorways, especially in sci-fi books; where you may assume that walking you through a doorway brings you to one specific place, it’s not unreasonable for it to take you somewhere else. For example, if we look earlier in the series (#12) we’ll see that going through a doorway can bring you to the campus from a seemingly unrelated locale — and when the events of #12 were given additional context (#16) it made the passage through that doorway all the more confusing. So when we look back at #36, what little we can see of the entryway seems to be in conflict to the set-up as we see it here; gone is the long hallway, instead replaced by something ostensibly abandoned that can fit all the mainstays of a successful night club — and if our theory that the Academy is on some other plane of existence then we can accurately count for the discrepancy, as the Academy Staff would certainly know how to enter the campus grounds through multiple doors and entryways.

    Additionally, the reason this location’s different interiors becomes suspect is because if this were just a storage facility it would ostensibly present no exit — a storage facility is just a building, it’s not something traditionally used for passage. If Casey’s speech about going home this issue has any direct relation to what Hannah mentions about potentially leaving through this building via however Drs. Simon and Richmond, I would imagine that the road to the exit is hidden somewhere in the doorframe.

    Continued below

    Also: apparently, despite all the weird dumb shit I got up to in high school, I lived a fairly tame and sheltered life because none of my friends and I ever ended up going to something like this. Geez. Kids today, am I right?

    My Whole Life is a Darkroom

    While the main focus of the issue centers around the party, we do get a couple external vignettes peppered throughout the issue as well. The first that we get is with Akiko and Fortunate, as Akiko lightly laments that she can not party with the corporeal and Fortunate continues to avoid questions as to why Ian beat on him. And while the scene is short and closed off with a nod to Beetlejuice (which Akiko uses as a shorthanded reference to her being trapped in a location, unable to leave), one thing Fortunate says has a fair deal of relevance that’s worth keeping in mind.

    A confrontation is coming in the next three issues. This is inescapable, and Ian has almost explicitly said it multiple times, let alone in this issue. That said, we also known that Ian has a very unrequited fondness for Akiko, and Fortunate seems to imply that all things considered Akiko could prevent it — which is interesting. Akiko certainly lacks the ability to communicate with others, and I’m not sure Fortunate is up to being a conduit, but I don’t know how else it could happen; there’s no one else that seems to acknowledge her presence, though she hasn’t really gone out of her way to try. That said, she does view herself as Fortunato’s current guardian, so if nothing else perhaps she will find a way to save him.

    In a way, I’m reminded of the finale to Season 1. In issue #23 when Akiko interacted with David, Fortunato saved her. Perhaps we’re do to somewhat seeing the inverse?

    Best Friends Forever

    The other major not-party sequence we get is with Casey and Vanessa, and it’s only really important because Future Vanessa explicitly says it is important. It’s almost fourth-wall breaking, in a slightly unusual way for the series; it’d probably have been simple enough to pull the two together and show that a spark is kind of triggered here, but no, Vanessa flat out says that this is an impactful sequence.

    Part of it is obvious as to why, and again Vanessa spells it out: because of her friendship with Casey, she eventually goes back in time to meet young Lara, who brains her with a rock and strands her in the past to grow old in a cell. This opens up all kinds of unfortunate implications, as Future Vanessa mentions she is aware of Casey’s existence as Clarkson, and is somewhat implying that Casey set her up (since Clarkson takes orders from Hodge, and Hodge would ostensibly know that Vanessa needed to be sent back in time to get stranded). That’s unfortunate.

    That said, there’s also a lot of benefit here. We assume that in the grand scheme of dichotomies for cliques that Irina was Casey’s “equal,” but really Vanessa makes more sense. The two of them are smart scientific students who contain strong leadership qualities (Vanessa was the defacto leader when Irina was out in the woods blowing up shrines or whatever) and their bond seems natural; that they’re both doing their best to defy the laws of the school right now (Casey’s election, Vanessa’s science project) makes Vanessa’s comment about “kindred spirits” ring true. And if we really want to dig into it, though — and of course we do because that’s what this column is about — that “kindred spirits” remark is interesting.

    Look, I’m not trying to say that everyone at Morning Glory Academy are actually ancient reincarnated dead people and their souls are stuck in cycles because that’s the kind of stuff that becomes the foundation for creepy religions. I will, however, at least offer a nod to the continued references to cycles, the inclusion of Samsara as an ideological support system and the references to people being drawn to one another throughout time as a way to at least give this remark from Vanessa a bit of added value. Everything that’s happened before will happen again; it stands to reason that certain people will come together as well.

    Continued below

    The ABC’s of School Elections: Always Be Campaigning

    All parties have to end, and sometimes they end by having someone totally bring down the overall vibe — hence, Ike ushers Casey on stage to make her speech. Casey delivers unto us her usual platitudes; Morning Glory Academy bad, leaving good, yadda yadda yadda — and between both totally killing the mood (and ignoring Hunter, who apparently is not as over his crush as he thought he was), Casey allows the table to turn and Isabel to make her grand entrance.

    Isabel is a tough character to get a read on. By default we’re being trained to dislike her; even if she makes good points, the fact that she is Casey’s adversary means that we have to go against her. That, and the fact that she appears to like the Academy, which we have also been equally conditioned to view as bad. Both of these things are interesting to me: it stands to reason that, all things considered, there’s no reason that Casey isn’t the bad guy and Isabel is the opposite. She mentions having fun with fellow students (apparently having parties in the dungeon), and she actually knows the name of more than ten other students. Casey, conversely, just wants to tear everything down. Is that fair? Yeah, her parents were murdered, I get it, but this is a school that is training a weird brand of students to do something spectacular — do two dead parents by default make them the bad guy? (Ok, yes, it does, but bear with me.)

    What I really want to know is: why is Isabel so loyal? What did the school do for her? Is it possible that if Casey got that treatment, she’d view the school differently? And is that not a fundamental debate in parenting anyway, of nature vs nurture? The role of parents is huge in this story and obviously Casey had a very emotional connection to hers, but what about Isabel’s parents? Where are they? And with their absence (at least to us), what role can we assume the Academy played in raising her to the point where she will not only go out into the world to bring in a rabble rouser someone like Casey (because remember, Casey is only at the Academy because Clarkson and Isabel pushed her) and still come home and want to defend it?

    Perhaps the more relevant question is… who is Isabel really?

    All that said, a thing of note:

    Why Pamela’s Dislike of Isabel is Pretty Important, All Things Considered

    Lets get this out of the way: all of the characters in this book are fairly complex and rounded out as people, but Pamela? Pamela is nuts. Maybe we’ll get an origin story some day, but as far as I can tell Pamela is basically MGA’s Joker, if Joker didn’t need a Batman to exist and just wanted to do crazy stuff all the time.

    With that in mind, when Pamela reveals she doesn’t like Isabel it’s important. It’s important for two things, both directly related to Isabel and inherently conflicting:

    1. It proves that Isabel herself isn’t a bad person. Casey remarks that she figured Pamela would like Isabel because they’re potentially similar, but Pamela doesn’t see anything like herself in Isabel. If we can acknowledge that Pamela is kind of crazy and that the things she does are bad on purpose (aside from baking brownies), then it goes to show that Isabel is therefore not bad.

    2. It also proves that Isabel is dangerous. I realize this potentially contradicts exactly what I just said, but keep in mind: Pamela loves the school beyond rationality. There is nothing more important to Pamela than the school, and Isabel represents a threat. We can reason that Pamela doesn’t exactly see things as lucidly or clearly as you or I (and we don’t understand anything), but Pamela wanting Isabel taken down when Casey has done nothing but promote that her campaign will lead to the deconstruction of the school is interesting to me.

    Essentially: Pamela should see Casey as the villain, but she doesn’t. Pamela loves the school and Casey hates it, but Pamela still throws in support for Casey. Is it roomie camaraderie? Maybe. Is it vanity? Perhaps. But if you ask me, Isabel seems dangerous — and Pamela’s reaction to her confirms it.

    Continued below

    Can You Dig It?

    Gribbs and his goons crash the party, and all hell breaks out in the form of a riot as Ike basically steals a move from Rogues leader Luther (see: The Warriors) and pelts a bottle at Gribbs’ head. Of course, the point of this is for the fallout to come down on Isabel, which is smart; as Ian points out, it paints Isabel in a very bad light and furthers Ike’s endeavors to prop Casey up whether she likes it or not.

    And while it’s a small moment, it’s a wonderfully cathartic one. Ike and Gribbs have always had a difficult relationship (to put it lightly), but it’s nice to see that even when someone tears him down as brutally as Gribbs did, Ike doesn’t let that stop him from being a bit of a bastard himself. I know Future Ike spelled out doom and gloom for the rascal, but dammit, I think we can still hope for him.

    Ian’s Machine

    We end this month’s issue as once again Ian pulls out his strange machine and teases the capabilities it contains. From his initial stalking of the Cylinder (#40) to his digging out this strange Scantron out of storage (#42), the book has been slowly building to some kind of confrontation involving the machine — but really the importance of his machine has been hiding under the surface of the book since the first issue when Brenden came across it before his untimely death. The seeds planted for whatever it is that Ian has up his sleeve are certainly well-documented and seem almost on the outskirts of the other conflicts (despite this being his science project).

    This again calls into question the power and purpose of the machine. We have no idea what it does, yet it’s seemingly always there; it’s there as the series began, and now as we reach the halfway point it seems to be referenced more and more frequently. But what does it do? And perhaps more importantly, what is its relationship to the Cylinder? If our first image of it was in conjunction with this strange machine (#1) that can alter time (#29), unearth Hell (#5) and kill wantonly (#6), to what extent does the Cylinders power relate to this Scantron device (if at all, as it was in storage after all — unless it was in storage for a reason post-Irina’s failed insurrection).

    The bigger question we have to ask as of this issue, and to which I’m very unsure of the answer, is: what does Ian gain by Casey winning the election? Ian claims that he can use the device to help Casey win, but certainly there are easier ways to rig an election. And what does Ian gain by helping Ike? Ike’s actions directly relate to his interaction with his future self (#43), but Ian is motivated by selfishness, hatred for Fortunato and longing for Akiko (#40); all that happens if Casey becomes class president is that she gets to meet the Headmaster, and there’s seemingly no reciprocal benefit in this for Ian as far as positioning Casey for this encounter goes. Everything Ian wants relates to bringing Akiko out of a coma and winning her heart, and Casey’s quest to dethrone the Headmaster and burn down the school don’t seem like things that can help him on his quest.

    So as we are on the precipice of a big finale, Ian has essentially revealed himself to potentially be the most dangerous person in the room. From what we know about Ian, his plans tie to the abilities of the Cylinder; it’s perhaps undeniable that his Scantron holds some strong importance to the Cylinder as well. But with a singularly obvious motive yet no apparent logic or hat tip towards his plan of attack, whatever Ian is planning is all across the board, and is therefore that much more likely to be something to fear.

    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.

    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 mgastudyhall@multiversitycomics.com. 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 Issues: #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10#11#12#13#14#15#16#17#18#19,#20, #21, #22, #23, #24, #25, #26, #27, #28, #29, #30, #31, #32, #33, #34, #35, #36, #37, #38, #39, #40, #41, #42, #43, #44, #45, #46

    Previous audio podcasts: second arc interviews#7#8#9#10#11#12second arc wrap-up, NSRFQRthird arc interviews, #13#14, #15#16, #17#18, #19third arc wrap-up, all of the fourth arc, Live at NYCC 2014

    //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."


    • Moss

      I did not know about Kitsune music but I do know that Kitsune are part of Japanese folklore.

      Ian. On the surface his manipulation of people seems like brute force. I suspect that Ian uses subtlety as well. When I see how successful he is at manipulating people, I wonder if he manipulated Irina as well.

      • Matthew Meylikhov

        I’m not sure Ian is that good at manipulating people, to be honest. He had the AV Club eating out of his hand, but everyone that’s met him since instantly distrusts or disparages him. Ian is all rage and no subtlety. Ike is the one who is good at manipulating people — he could teach Ian a thing or two.

        And, yeah, I knew about Kitsune as a folklore thing, but I figured this was just a joke from Mr. Nick “I Like Cooler Music Than You” Spencer 😛


        • Moss

          I am not sure that Ian is a good manipulator. I suspect that he is. I am certain that being distrusted and being poorly thought of does not prevent manipulation.

          I did google “kitsune french” and it actually is music as well as a “cooler music than” ploy and that made me laugh because back during rock ‘n roll you could play music at a party and everyone would dance. About when 9 inch nails came on the scene tastes in music became more personal. Ike’s solution was to have the cheerleaders come.

          Assuming Ian is correct that is some sacrifice Ike makes to get Isabel voted against. Seems that birthday kids heal fast.

    • Moss

      I just began my 3rd reread. I think I found something. Ellen/Ms. Richmond says Clarkson when future Vanessa talks about what Casey will become. How did Ms. Richmond know this and when did she learn this? For that matter how does future Vanessa know it?

      Being as there was a planned reach out to Hodge why Hodge and not Georgina?

      Regarding MM’s ” … and is somewhat implying that Casey set her up (since Clarkson takes orders from Hodge, and Hodge would ostensibly know that Vanessa needed to be sent back in time to get stranded). That’s unfortunate.”

      The Casey who went back in time followed the book Hodge provided. The Casey at the school has no knowledge of the book and does not work for Hodge. Vanessa was caroling how Hodge always stuck up for the students and was not like the other faculty when Vanessa got ambushed from behind.

      I think that Hodge planned that. We agree on this.

      On the same reread I just noticed that the bottle Ike pitched broke on Gribbs’ head. Accuracy + power. Ike could major league.

      All of this “this looks bad now but works for the future” The solution to saving the world may be just staying put, working on it here and doing what looks good now.

      In real life it is a mistake to think that going alone is the best way. In r/l I find that no one believes I am smart enough to size up the problems I face and instead of getting a response to what I say, I get a “this is what is really happening to you.” All the same the struggle to get some useful input does pay off. For instance no one believes that electricity was being stolen from me but I was given an old i-phone and was told that there are surveillance programs. It took some work to find the app (free for app and use of app) but now my electric bill has gone down to normal. Still no one believes me but problem solved.

      • George B.

        Regarding Ellen and (future) Vanessa, I think what’s really interesting is that they have been communicating all this time even after Ellen has arrived at the Academy. There is a gap since issue #44 during which Ellen has learned a lot of stuff including that essentially Vanessa is locked up down at the basement of the Academy. Who knows what else have they been talking about and how much intelligence has Ellen gathered about that place and the other characters. Also, it is confirmed that Vanessa has at least some visual access to the outside world (through a window I suppose) which seems odd and that she saw Ellen going out at the night of the party. Another good question is why and where to has Ellen been sneaking out?

        As for how both of them know that Casey has already been/will be Clarckson, although it hasn’t been explicitly stated, I suppose it would be relatively easy for them to infer it. Ellen had a major interaction with Clarckson back in #44 spanning many years, during which they shared a lot, including that Clarckson was “one of them” and also she was the one who gave her the radio. Vanessa speaks as if she was betrayed by Casey but only after she cordially describes their friendship mentioning her science project. That could trigger the connection for Ellen that Casey is Clarckson. Of course, there is also the possibility that Vanessa had already said Ellen who Casey is offstage although unlikely because she seemed like she had an epiphany. Similarly, Vanessa had plenty of time to actually make the calculations and infer that Clarckson could or even must have been Casey for reasons we have already seen and other yet unknown ones or Hodge herself could have reveiled this to her.

        • Moss

          It just hit me. Vanessa makes the phone for her science fair project.

    • George B.

      This issue was hilarious. Vanessa and Isabel are hot!

    • George B.

      Hunter exhibited some kind of wisdom at the opening of this issue with his remarks about living in the moment and that they were where they’re supposed to be. Has he started having a greater understanding of the bigger “chess” game as future Jade explained it to him? Also, everybody keeping on doubting him could play a role later on.

      Could the storage building be another shrine? Bit more industrial

      Pamela is nuts, I seriously thought those brownies were poisoned!

      I think Akiko will wake up at the most crucial moment to save the day again by appealing to Ian’s affection for her but something tells me it will be too late this time.

      • Moss

        Good call about the industrial shrine. I buy it. Now I am eager to find out if this is so.

        I am not so sure that Ian has affection for Akiko. Boy wants girl to like him does not imply that boy likes girl.

    • Tina Joy

      Ok, so maybe off topic… But has anyone else noticed the style change in Eisma’s art? Maybe it’s just me, but the faces in particular seemed a bit more stylized and rough, not as detailed as they used to be. I dunno. Maybe he’s just stuck in comic con sketch mode or something. *shrugs* Still love his art, though! (Please don’t hate me!!!) Just really missing those early days. Especially since I’ve been going back and re-reading those older issues with it being the 5 year anniversary and all!

      • Moss

        Guessing we all noticed. The coloring is different, meaning the coloring on the faces of characters and overall toning. It emphasized mood but …

        It is brutal on Andres who is now all popped eyes. I think of Andres as just self-possessed enough to be cool, nowhere close to pompous and part of his charm being short of awesome. The being short of awesome somehow makes Andres cooler.

        If it is the coloring this is something which can be remedied in the trade.

    Morning Glories #49 Cover Annotations
    MGA Study Hall: Issue #49

    By | Dec 30, 2015 | Annotations

    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 #49, in which SPOILER ALERT.Join me as I discuss the issue, its story and the possible hidden secrets that I may […]

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    MGA Study Hall: Issue #48

    By | Sep 30, 2015 | Annotations

    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 #48, in which Casey and Isabel finally have their debate.Join me as I discuss the issue, its story and the […]

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