You guys demanded it. Nick and Joe encouraged us to do it. Now we’ve done it: my partner in crime Crit Obara and I have sat down and studied the first six issues of Morning Glories! Today we’ve got the fifth issue, and we’ll have a new version of this column up daily this week, with our studies of #6 and #10 up next week! Get excited.
As a note, these columns contain massive spoilers. The issue has been out for quite some time now, but as a note if you have not read the issue yet you will have the ending ruined for you, as well as other key elements of the book. While a lot of what we say is just theorizing and speculation, some of it is a reflection of the latest issues as well up to the 9th issue. So. Read the issues. Then read our thoughts. Agreed? Good.
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. Many thanks to Tim for being fantastically awesome and providing it to us.
Click behind the cut for the discussion!
Matthew Meylikhov: Salve et studio recipiet aula! Ultimam Study Hall hebdomadam Crit ut tracto et quinta prole, quod est finis primi penultima arcus Quaestio prima artis. Sursum contentiones, in periculo vitae, et nos parati. Melioris venturi, rectum Crit?
Crit Obara: I, uh, yeah!
MM: Alright then! Let’s just dive right in! With issue #5, we open with Mr. Gribbs having a conversation with a student. We don’t know who the student is until the very end, but considering this is at least the 10th time I’ve read this issue, should we just say who Gribbs is talking to now, or wait?
CO: I think we should hold off. Unless you think it would be better to just name her now and be able to talk about what Gribbs is saying specifically how it applies to her.
MM: You said her! You said her! Spoiler alert!
CO: I think we can just say who it is then!
MM: IT’S CASEY!
CO: Yes it is!
MM: I think saying that up front will help, because the dialogue is petty important once you know who he is talking to. Especially since, right off the bat, Gribbs says that meeting her is “the highest honor (his) life may ever see.”
CO: Quite a strange thing for a teacher to say to a student.
MM: Well, we’ve had a history of the teachers saying odd things. No need to stop now, I suppose. I mean, the teachers have been referred to as the “servants” of the students before. So since Casey is clearly the coolest person ever in the history of ever, it probably is pretty cool to meet her.
CO: True. I thought it was interesting that he tells her he believes in what they do at MGA out of necessity. Not for reasons of good, but necessity.
MM: Right. He doesn’t want to be her enemy, but he also wants to “harness her anger.” For a better future, I assume.
CO: He wants to train her reaction, he says. Sounds almost like someone who is building an army of sorts.
MM: He also brings up her upbringing, which we’ve noted is different from all the other students, and that “strikes a nerve” with Casey. And the biggest line of this opening scene, I think, is that Gribbs has to “Prepare you for that which you do not seek but still must find — not alone, but all together, one and all.” This union/synchronicity between students thing is becoming quite recurrent, and our Glories team has clearly been assembled. It feels less random as we get each issue.
CO: Right. And he says he rarely gets an audience with students like this, so I think that just supports the thought that Casey is extremely, extremely important.Continued below
MM: Here’s a question I have in my notes. Crit, why is Casey so cool?
CO: Probably her background in physics. All the kids thing physics is cool, right?
MM: No wonder I was never cool.
CO: Me either!
MM: So after our initial little intro, we see that this comic is comprised of essentially two scenes: the showdown between the Glories and Daramount sans Ike, who is a bastard, and Jun, who is missing/Gribbs talking to “the student” (i.e. Casey). With Casey, Zoe, and Hunter vs. everyone, we quickly see what Casey was cooking up with the first issue – A SCIENCE EXPLOSION! It’s nothing if not highly reminiscent of the opening to the first issue where Akiko pulled a similar science trap against Daramount.
CO: “Seems to be a recurring theme in my –” she says.
MM: I guess we can mention that once again she has no injuries from the explosion, although Hunter is knocked out.
CO: She’s getting used to being blown up, and again is unharmed, though she looks to have a few scratches. So that supports your idea from earlier – explosions knock her down, but that’s it. Strange.
MM: She’s a powerful woman, in more ways than one. Now we go back to Gribbs, who gets a bit nasty here. He wants to teach Casey to supplant his authority. As in, he literally views instilling rebellion in her as his “first lesson.” He also mentions “the grand design,” that the students have “destinies to fulfill.”
CO: Weird! He also mentions that he misses his youth, and how he recognizes something he himself had and lost in others (students) and wants to shape and channel it in them in ways he couldn’t himself. I got the feeling he was once a student there, but either wasn’t special enough or somehow failed out…but then I thought that if that was true, I don’t think they’d let him back in to teach.
MM: …You know, a thought occured. If, hypothetically/theoretically, Gribbs was once a student, we might be able to infer that Daramount was too. And if we’re under the impression that this has all happened before and will all happen before… do you think, perhaps back in the day, Gribbs and Daramount had their own “Gribbs” and “Daramount” to defeat, and once they did they became the new guards of the school and it’s mysteries? And, to that regard, our Glories are being groomed to be the new “owners”/protectors of the school?
CO: Hmm…that’s not bad at all.
MM: Given some info we have from issue #6/#10, it doesn’t seem unlikely.
CO: The pieces (and by that I mean small bits of info and some of our guesses) fit, and that would make some sense. To put it in LOST terms, the Glories are candidates, and Gribbs/Daramount are a two-person Jacob looking for the next two to take over.
CO: I like it. Then we go back to Casey and Zoe, who make a run for it away from Daramount.
MM: And they do so by crawling into the ventilation shaft. That seems safe.
CO: Good thing Casey loosened the bolts on the ladder, so no one can chase after them once they’re in there!
MM: Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop Zoe from crashing out of the vent, and then blaming the crash on Casey’s weight.
CO: And then they meet the cylinder.
MM: THE CYLINDER. Insert creepy music here.
CO: Dun dun dunnnnnnnn!
MM: And her first inclination is apparently to touch it, which is… odd.
CO: Luckily, I think, someone shouts at her before she touches it and she turns around. A guard with a nightstick walks in, and is then taken out in a gruesome manner by…it. (As a side note, this role is played by Joe Eisma’s brother!)
CO: Good ol’ David.
MM: Need I remind you, and our readers, that this scene also appeared in issue #7, with Zoe being asked various questions during her cheerleader initiation, including “Who is David?”Continued below
CO: As we saw in issue 7, David means something to her. So once again, (well, technically, it’s the first time, since we already did issue #7) we are left to wonder who David is to Zoe.
MM: It’s also odd that David, who is an odd phasing “creature” thing, seems to fade out of vision (or perhaps reality?!), whilst putting Zoe in some kind of trance.
CO: Then Casey barges in, thinking that Zoe murdered the man who lies in front of her and snaps her out of that trance.
MM: It wouldn’t be the first time Zoe killed someone. … Although we aren’t supposed to know that yet.
CO: So we’ll pretend we don’t! (whistle) Then we go back to Gribbs.
MM: Good ol’ Gribbs! He has wonderful things to show us.
CO: He says they aren’t there to brainwash the kids.
MM: He also reinforces the “teachers are servants” element of their relationship.
CO: He says he wants to make them better, and yes, that the teachers are the servants. He says there are possibilities, promises and treasures ahead.
MM: He goes on and on about how not fighting against the faculty will lead to beautiful revelations. I wonder what kind of beauty he’s talking about, given that we know he’s a rather dark and brutish character.
CO: It sounds like he’s not brainwashing (as he said) but just convincing her that not struggling and fighting everything like Casey has been doing will lead to better things. I’m not sure if that’s true, though.
MM: We’ll talk more on that later…. As we go back to Casey and Zoe, the Cylinder has ACTIVATED. That can’t be good. On top of that, the ground has broken down into a pit to Hell. Uh. What?
CO: It’s definitely not good. The ground breaks open. What the fuck! Daramount grabs Zoe and then reaches for Casey, who tells her to go to hell. I loved this line from Daramount: “You die now, you’ll never get the chance to kill me later.” A teacher straight up challenging and inviting a student to try to kill her? She’s not afraid at all, which might reinforce your idea that was born out of her not being harmed by either explosion. However, Gribbs then tells Casey that Daramount has a flaw, in that she underestimates and toys with the students.
MM: This is a pretty crazy scene over all. The Daramount/Casey relationship is an amazing bit, it it still isn’t my favorite bit. This is the first time we’ve seen the Cylinder activate, isn’t it? I have a few notes about the cylinder and the pit to hell, so let’s move back a few steps.
CO: Alright, let’s hear ’em!
MM: Well, this is the first time we’ve seen the Cylinder activate, isn’t it?
CO: Now I know it’s not, but searching my notes for “cylinder” is not helping me remember when we’ve seen it!
MM: Well, we saw it in the first issue! Both with Brendon finding it, and it’s appearance in the orientation. But we’ve never seen it in motion before. So: why is it in motion? What different thing has happened here?
CO: Could the name “David” have activated it?
MM: I actually think a girl named “Casey” may have activated it. Because if you look, it didn’t start up until Casey came into the room to rescue Zoe.
CO: Good point.
MM: And once it starts up, the room begins to fall apart, revealing a giant fire pit. What’s up with that! What exactly is Morning Glories sitting on top of that could result in kids falling into Hell?
CO: To go back to LOST references, maybe it’s the cork? We saw that island as the cork keeping the evil in the world at bay.
MM: So the Cylinder is …. keeping the evil in? Or letting it out?
CO: Hm…or somehow the judge that decides and does both?
MM: Perhaps. I could buy it. I mean, the Cylinder is the most important thing in the story.Continued below
CO: If any of those things turn out to be true, how does it decide on these things? “Evil” can be subjective, is it controlled by anyone or anything else or just its own entity?
MM: Are we assuming that the Cylinder saw Casey as a bad egg and tried to kill her, then?
CO: Or perhaps saw her as a challenge to it / the school / the world?
MM: So it was self preservation?
CO: Maybe! I’m just throwing ideas out.
MM: Hey, I have no idea what the Cylinder is! All I know is it spins when Casey is around, and it’s excessively important.
CO:I think any or all of these things are possible here.
MM: OK. So! Cylinder. Hell pit. Daramount saving Casey. We then move to Daramount bringing the girls back to their dorm, where Jade is waiting – and presumably saves them from a beating. As a matter of fact, Daramount actually seems surprised that Jade is there.
CO: She thought something was strange for sure. And then Casey tells Gribbs how she did it all.
MM: Jun was one of the guards the whole time! And this is the best thing EVER, because at first you’re all, “Oh, hey, he has a gas mask, of course he snuck in.” But then you read issue #9 and you say, “OH. WAIT. HIS TWIN BROTHER IS PART OF THE GUARDS. THAT’S HOW HE SNUCK IN.” Tricky!!
MM: We also get a Star Wars reference (to a New Hope/Princess Leia being saved by Luke), and then Jade calls Hunter “Daddy”. I’m going to hope we don’t have to read into this like we read into everything else, because that would just be weird.
CO: Yeah…too weird.
MM: Speaking of weird, then Gribbs does something pretty INSANE. …Oh. Hey. I just realized I missed a huge chunk of notes I wanted to talk about.
CO: Okay, go!
MM: Eh, I’ll save it for the end.
MM: Gribbs calls someone into the classroom – a new student named Jason. He’s one of Gribbs’ favorite students!
CO: We meet Jason, who Gribbs likes quite a bit, but Jason failed a test…so Gribbs chokes him. To death.
MM: He notes that others might fail this “test”, but not Casey. Hmm. He also asks Jason before he kills him, “What did you see when your eyes were opened?”
CO: A question we’ve just seen in issue 10.
MM: Originally seen in issue #3!
CO: Jason didn’t answer the question, he just said “sir?”
MM: And he kills him as a point to show that Casey’s obedience is “required.” At least, for now.
CO:That’s one way to prove a point!
MM: She doesn’t seem particularly phased by it. Instead she goes out, sees Ike, kisses him, and then knees him in the groin. Then she says she’s going to burn the place down! And wouldn’t you know it, in issue #8 she’s researching about Nero and how Nero supposedly burned Rome! Oooo. It’s also odd – Ike seems particularly stunned by Casey’s actions. Given his socialite behavior, something seems a tad amiss with that.
CO:Hm, true. Then she’s back in her room, looking at a photo of her parents, and she starts crying.
MM: Good thing Hunter shows up to give her a hug.
CO:How cute. He tells her it’s going to be okay, and that’s that.
MM: Oh Hunter. He’s such a dreamboat.
CO:So let’s backtrack…you said you had more to talk about?
MM: Yes, my notes were out of order, and I have a myriad of things I totally forgot to mention.
CO:Go right ahead!
MM: Ok, well the issue has a whole bunch of references that we didn’t mention! Zoe calls Casey the “Fear-inducing leader,” which I assume is a pun on “Fearless Leader” from Rocky and Bullwinkle. Then Zoe proceeds to mention she doesn’t want the teachers to get all “Clockwork Orange-ey” with them. This is a reference to how the Government arrested Alex, strapped him to a machine with his eyes peeled open, and forced him to watch horrifying images in order to turn him into a good citizen. Casey finds it odd that Zoe knows Clockwork Orange but not Blade Runner. The Blade Runner reference was the LAST issue, but we didn’t discuss Blade Runner, which is about “replicants”… or clones. Given your theory about Morning Glory Academy being full of clones, that feels like an important reference. The other reference I found, not including the Star Wars reference I already mentioned, was Gribbs’ “I have such wonderful things to show you.” That MIGHT be a reference to Event Horizon, which is this crazy awesome weird haunted spaceship movie.Continued below
CO:Great stuff here. I love Blade Runner, but didn’t even think of it in terms of my clones theory
MM: If we learned anything from LOST, it was that every little reference to something that existed in the real world was generally relevant.
MM: So now we get to add to the list: Rocky and Bullwinkle, Clockwork Orange, Blade Runner, and Event Horizon. And Star Wars.
CO:I just love that Rocky and Bullwinkle are on that list. Haha
MM: Well, I could draw some parallels to the mysterious Headmaster and his minions Mr. Gribbs and Miss Daramount against Fearless Leader, Boris and Natasha.
CO:I’d like a 2,000 word essay about it on my desk by 9 AM, please.
MM: I’ll get to work on that right away. So! What an issue, eh?
CO:Boy howdy! (Yes!)
MM: A LOT just happened. And this is just the first arc!
CO:What a great book.
MM: We’re just about done for our week of Morning Glories, but do you have anything you’d like to add about the first arc? Anything we haven’t discussed, or any theories that have come to your mind?
CO:I got it all out for this one!
MM: So as far as we know, the comic is about a story about a school on an island that contains a mysterious possibly sentient entity that is protected by teachers who may or may not be viciously grooming their new wards in order to take over and save all of mankind (somehow), particularly a young girl named Casey who is going to use science to burn the school to the ground. Or something to that effect?
CO:Something to that effect! That’s a good, short but encompassing way to put it.
MM: I think that contains all of our bigger theories, if not the smaller more character centric ones. Well, that’s all the Study Hall for this week! Crit and I will be back next week with our in depth discussion about the two most polarizing issues of the series: #6, and #10! And if you thought these first five issues were crazy good, you literally haven’t seen anything yet.
CO:I can’t wait! See y’all then!