MGA Study Hall: Issue #6

By and | June 7th, 2011
Posted in Annotations | % Comments

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 finally have the sixth issue, and I’ve got to warn you: our notes are a bit crazy. We’re either spot on to something big, or we’re just absolutely crazy.

As a note, these columns contain massive spoilers. The issue has been out for quite some time now, but  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!

Previous issues: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #7, #8, #9

Matthew Meylikhov: Hi everyone and welcome to Study Hall! Crit and I will be talking about the two most difficult issues of the series yet this week, starting today with #6! Say hi, Crit.

Crit Obara: Hi, Crit!

MM:Issue #6 introduces us to a brand new character: Julie Hayes. And while you can’t tell right at the beginning, Ms. Hayes is very important to the series. She works in the field of Quantum Physics as we will soon learn and is attending what appears to be some kind of job interview. She is brought in by Alicia Wyatt, personal assistant of one Doctor Ellsworth, another new character. When researching, I found that Ellsworth is usually a boy’s name and means “nobleman’s estate,” which has some additional odd definitions to the character when you learn more about Ellsworth. And I’ve gotta say – I don’t know if you noticed this, but the place she’s being interviewed looks like quite a dump. Cracks in the wall, pieces of the wall missing, things tilted, glass panes boarded up… wassup wit dat?

CO: It certainly doesn’t appear to be the kind of place you’d want to attend an interview. Doctor Ellsworth isn’t there, because a last second emergency came up.

MM: She’s busy dealing with Andrew, a scientist who is working in this dump.

CO: And then we see Andrew, who is upset that the place is coming down around them. Then he mentions that the only equipment he has to monitor “the damn thing” is a hundred years old. The thing he says next is even more interesting. “Maybe you can solicit our generous benefactor for some additional funding from the great beyond after this thing kills us all.”

MM: And Dr. Ellsworth thought he didn’t believe in such a place!

CO:Dr. Ellsworth is very close to him, and we don’t get a clear view of her face.

MM: Already within the first two pages, we have all kinds of questions about what’s going on. Why can’t we see Ellsworth? Who is the generous benefactor? So Ellsworth is lead by Andrew to “the damn thing” they are monitoring as he proceeds to talk about how he knows she can’t tell him anything (once again assumedly a case of Nick talking to critics/the reader), and we come face to face with our old friend… the Cylinder. So now we know: we’re in Morning Glory Academy, and “the damn thing” is that damn Cylinder. Or, at least, that’s what I assume.

Continued below

CO: I believe so too.

MM: So now we get to ask: WHEN does this take place? In the future? In the past? In an alternate reality? And suddenly, the damaged setting begins to present questions in it’s own right. If this is MGA, yet all the walls are wrecked and the glass windows on doors boarded up, then… well, what happened?

CO: Great question. It seems the school was either in awful condition in the past and then fixed up, or somehow went to shit at some point in the future, because it doesn’t look at all like the way we’ve seen it in the first 5 issues.

MM: I’m going to posit that this takes place in the future (with reasons to be revealed later), and I’m also going to posit that it looks like someone lit a fire, given some dialogue we’ve seen in past and future issues.

CO: I look forward to hearing these reasons! So, we see Julie again, and there’s an apple, something we’ve seen a lot of, on the table for her while she waits.

MM: I too had the apple in my notes. I think that apple is very important to an eventual revelation, but we’ll get to that soon. Although we should also mention, right before that we see the Cylinder has activated. And we have only seen the Cylinder activated once before, when Casey stood in front of it. Andrew doesn’t know what this means, but Ellsworth notes that this means “we have some very important company.”

CO: Seems Ellsworth is implying that Julie has caused the activation.

MM: Very much so. We now get a look at the past, taking a place a week earlier from the current scene, whenever that is. Ellsworth is in a bar and having quite a bit to drink, while the TV talks of mass destruction and doom. I think this is the first hint that this might take place in the future.

CO: That could be. Sounds like some kind of nuclear threats that are escalating.

MM: Right. There is no direct threat mentioned, but rather “forces” that are amassing at the border.

CO: And that people are stockpiling canned goods and water. Sounds like the kind of situation where people are preparing to head to fallout shelters, possibly for an extended period of time.

MM: That sounds about right.

CO: And the bartender mentions the phrase “mutually assured destruction,” which the US heard during the Cold War, meaning that if one side launched nuclear weapons, the other side would as well, and both would be wiped out.

MM: Very good point. So a few men in suits walk into the bar, and Hayes goes for her hidden gun before being stopped by the mysterious and still faceless Ellsworth.

CO: Ellsworth assures Hayes that she is not with those men, and that as long as they’re sitting together, the men won’t approach her. Ellsworth has done her homework, she knows a thing or two about Hayes. And by that I mean she knows her whole life story.

MM: Hayes is the daughter of Harry and Allison, a graduate of Yale, a MacArthur Grant recipient as well as an Osland award winner for her exemplary work in the field of Quantum Physics. She also was the former project manager for the Greene Foundation’s work on Plank particle interactions. I’m going to guess that the Greene Foundation is made up for the purposes of the story, but Plank particles are very real.

CO: And just what are Plank particles?

MM: Here’s the interesting bit. I THINK that MG#6 has a typo, because what I found weren’t Plank particles, but rather Planck particles. And a Planck particle, named after physicist Max Planck, is a hypothetical particle defined as a tiny black hole whose Compton wavelength is comparable to its Schwarzschild radius.

CO: Hmmmmm, interesting. So she’s been working with tiny black holes. That sounds dangerous.

MM: The kind of dangerous that could cause a global panic, perhaps? To borrow a phrase, “a fringe incident”, maybe?

CO: I would certainly say so.

Continued below

MM: I like your thoughts on nuclear war better, but it had at least occurred to me that maybe whatever disaster is on it’s way is related to this.

CO: I see. Well, we then learn that back in the states, she’s wanted on 12 counts of negligent homicide.

MM:Yes, and the only reason Ellsworth was able to find her was because she tried to book a flight from England back to the states. This is where Julie begins to get suspicious of who this person is and what are they talking about. Ellsworth offers Julie a job from an “independent autonomous interest” that is seeking someone with her kind of expertise for “delicate work” on a project with “global ramifications.” Julie takes this to mean that Ellsworth is with the Chinese, which I believe is another hint that you are right about the whole nuclear war thing. I’ve heard plenty a fantasy story about nuclear war that begins with us versus the Chinese. Like, say, the successful video game series Fallout, for example.

CO: Makes sense that it would be the Chinese. We’re both global powers.

MM: Right. Ellsworth promises that if Julie signs up with her, that she’ll make all her problems go away. Sounds pretty powerful, eh?

CO: If MGA is on an island, as you’ve guessed, it’s possible it’s hidden somewhere remote that would be part of the reason why her problems would be gone, don’t you think? No law enforcement agency will ever find them if they’re on some tiny island in the middle of nowhere!

MM: Sure, that’s definitely a possibility! I didn’t even think of that. I just assumed it meant Ellsworth has connections that are super awesome, hahaha.

CO: That could very well be, but I was just trying to back up your island theory!

MM: Well thank you! Well, unfortunately for Ellsworth, Julie does not care for any of this. She assumes that the project will be “ethically challenging” and wants no part in it. Jade sighs, noting that the stubbornness does not surprise her at all – which, I believe, is a very important line here, but we’ll talk about that a bit more later. Meanwhile, Ellsworth mention’s Julie’s alias – Christina DeLassalle. Do you know who that is, Crit?

CO: A character from the 1955 film Diabolique!

MM: Exactly!

CO: Played by Vera Clouzot.

MM: Do you know anything about the movie?

CO: The wife of a cruel headmaster and his mistress conspire to kill him, but after the murder is committed, his body disappears, and strange events begin to plague the two women.

MM: Very good! Diabolique is a film that’s also a) part of the Criterion Collection, which assures you that it’s good and b) available on Netflix InstaWatch for those of you who have it. So Ellsworth leaves, asking Julie to “sleep on it”. Julie goads Ellsworth on, asking what will happen if she doesn’t sign up, if Ellsworth will turn her over to the people chasing her. Ellsworth assures her that that is NOT how “we” do things – another line that we will revisit.

CO: Then we flash back to Julie as a child, studying a science book with her father. Neils Bohr is mentioned, which seems to be a typo. When looking him up, I found his name is spelled Niels Bohr.

MM: Same as Max Planck earlier. I can’t tell if these are typos, if this is on purpose, or if this is just perhaps a different way to spell these names based on Max Planck and Neils Bohr not being from America. If this is an alternate universe, then maybe they drop or switch letters?

CO: That is very possible. As for Mr. Bohr, he won the Nobel Prize is physics, and also worked on the Manhattan Project. The Manhattan Project, for those who don’t know, was the US, UK and Canada working on developing the first atom bomb.

MM: It’s my and Sheldon Cooper’s favorite project and more hints towards nuclear war. Julie’s father continues quizzing her on scientists, asking her a familiar question: “Whose theorem established all reality must be non-local?”

Continued below

CO: Hey, that sounds familiar!!!

MM:Do you know whose theorem it was?

CO: It’s Jonathan Bell!

MM: Good! And why does this sound so familiar, Crit?

CO: We saw our pal Daramount asking that very question just a few issues ago!

MM: To whom?

CO: Casey!

MM: Huh! It’s almost as if Julie and Casey have… a connection. Both are good at physics, both activate the Cylinder, both are stubborn, both are asked about Jonathan Bell. You don’t think perhaps this is on purpose, do you?

CO: I am sure it is nothing more than mere coincidence! I am also sure that I am kidding. It must be on purpose.

MM:Interesting. We now learn that Julie grew up to work with her father. And, to make matters better/worse, they worked on…. The Cylinder!

CO: Then they decide to activate it with a lever, but it accelerates too fast. She says she can control it, but … BOOM!

MM: So, is it just me, or does it seem to imply that they created it?

CO: It sounds like it was created, and then when they tried to activate and control it, it was just too powerful.

MM: But they did some work on it. Perhaps with Planck particles?

CO: That sounds right. Something about her past makes her very valuable to MGA. MGA has a Cylinder, she’s worked with a Cylinder before… Now, do you think this is the same Cylinder as the one at MGA?

MM: I don’t think there are more than one, honestly.

CO: It seems unlikely that there would be more than one.

MM: I guess it will depend on what the Cylinder is. There are a few questions I have about this scene in particular. The first would be, where are they? Are they at MGA, or somewhere owned by the Greene Foundation mentioned earlier? The second is, did they create the Cylinder, or are they just working on it? And the third is, WHEN are they? Past, future, present? There are different implications for the various answers to those questions and I have no easy way to talk about that further without developing a headache, haha.

CO: I’m really not sure what to think about these questions. I don’t think there are any hints about where they are, and I’m not sure there’s any way to know if they created this or just worked on it. If they didn’t create it, then who did?

MM: And where are they that they have access to it in the first place? Are they at the Academy? Or did the Cylinder get moved? CAN it be moved? Or is there really more than one Cylinder? I will also add: when Andrew sees the Cylinder earlier, he says “Amazing. Just… amazing.” When Julie’s father sees the Cylinder, he says “Beautiful. Just… beautiful.”

CO: Yes! I had that here in my notes.

MM: So we’re kind of at a stand still with this scene. It’s very important she is working on the Cylinder, and obviously is the reason why Ellsworth wants to talk to her. However, without knowing when this takes place, or where and why, and what the Cylinder’s role is in it, it’s hard to talk about it. Do you have any theories?

CO: I’m not really sure what to say, though for what it’s worth I felt like this was taking place in the past while reading it.

MM: Well, it definitely takes place in the PAST… but how far back?

CO: I’m not even sure I can find any evidence to make a guesstimation. But probably at least before Daramount and Gribbs were around.

MM: That’s a good time frame. Although the age discrepancy between Gribbs/Daramount, Hayes, and Ellsworth does bring up a few questions… but whatever, we can save this discussion for later issues when we know more!

CO: Back to Julie. She goes to see her father in the hospital.

MM: Although we don’t fully know that yet. She walks into “somewhere” where a woman grabs her, and Julie reacts instinctively with violence. It’s also then revealed the aftermath of the Cylinder activating – which is the death 12 people and the severe injuring of her father.

Continued below

CO: Correct. Then the woman says she’s his nurse, and she sees her father, explaining that she tried to come see him but “they found me.”

MM: It’s odd – she almost seems surprised to see her father.

CO: I wrote “horrified” to see him. The look on her face is not a pleasant one.

MM: Right. Her reaction is really strong. It’s as if she came into the room expecting to see one thing… and to see him there is just a surprise. It’s an odd scene because between Julie leaving the bar and here, we’d been given the flashbacks interspersed with Julie just walking through the streets assumedly to go home, yet now she walks into what we had ASSUMED to be her apartment, yet she is in a hospital room – presumably in the states if she is with her father. So either she wasn’t coming to see him and was transported to the hospital by some kind of divine providence… or his condition is just so bad it hurts. I don’t know.

CO: Considering how everyone else died, I’d say his condition isn’t too bad. Perhaps he is Daramount-esque in his ability to survive deadly situations?

MM: I was actually going to say that about her. She didn’t get killed, or hurt, or end up in a hospital. Wassup wit dat?

CO: Good point.

MM: The Cylinder is such a perplexing thing. Although we might have uncovered an interesting tidbit – if Julie can survive explosions like Daramount, and Julie is similar to Casey, is it possible that Daramount and Casey also share the generational connection as well? As in, there is always someone like Casey, from Daramount, to Casey, and now to Julie?

CO: Good call! That seems highly likely. Back in the hospital: “Your mother and I, we always knew you were special, but even I never dreamed you would be this,” he tells her. What is this?

MM: I don’t know. Perhaps he means something to do with her survival of the destruction?

CO: That could be. He gives her the photo of her from her graduation, says he’s seen the wonderful things that she’s done, to never forget who she is and that he loves her. “My precious little…” and he dies. There’s a quote on the photo from Joseph Addison, English essayist, poet and playwright and politician who lived 1672 – 1719.

MM: Poor Julie.

CO: I feel like that was too long ago to be a hint as to what year we saw earlier in the issue. I don’t think it was that far into the past.

MM: I think that’s just a quote her father liked. This issue clearly takes place in “modern times.” The only real hint that we have to the exactly timeline of the issue is the Cold War reference, and the bartender clearly being an older gentlemen.

CO: I think so too.

MM: The Cold War was initially late 40s, so if the bartender was a kid then – let’s say, 8? – and he’s an old man now – let’s say, 60? – then the closest we get to a date is maybe 1999? Or it could be more. The Cold War TECHNICALLY went up to 1991. “Mutually assured destruction” was mentioned in 1962, so by the same math we’re looking at the year 2014. At the latest, I’m saying this could take place in 2043.

CO: I could get behind that.

MM: So anywhere in between the 1999 and 2043 for the NOW of this issue, with Julie and Ellsworth. All the stuff with Julie and her father is before that. Speaking of the NOW part of the issue, we finally get back to where we began – with Julie and Ellsworth at the remnants of Morning Glory Academy. Or, what we assume are the remnants of Morning Glory Academy. Ellsworth finally arrives for the interview, and notes that the apples are grown on site, but also adds that she can guarantee Julie would rather starve than take a bite. Seems an odd thing to say.

CO: I’ll say! Now, have we ever seen anyone EAT an apple?

Continued below

MM: Not to my knowledge, no.

CO: So they just carry them around and put them on teachers desks? They have apples on campus, but they can’t be eaten…hm!

MM: I never thought of it as “can’t” be eaten… but that’s an interesting point. If you have an apple but you’d rather starve than eat it, there has to be something very, very bad about it.

CO: Poison, deadly, etc?

MM: Indeed. Apple warfare!
CO: Nuclear apples!

MM: That, or perhaps this is a further Casey-esque reference?

CO: Maybe!

MM: So Julie says thank you, assumedly for getting to say goodbye to her father, but it doesn’t seem like she wants to sign up still. And this is where things start getting weird – even for a weird issue like this. Ellsworth mentions she understands Julie, that both her parents died, and that Julie is lucky to be able to say goodbye to her father. Julie then begins to question why Ellsworth would want her of all people, and Ellsworth says “Possess what you possess inside you,” which has to be a quote from something – but I honestly couldn’t find from what. Ellsworth notes that Julie’s father was right, that Julie is special – something Ellsworth couldn’t possibly know because she wasn’t there when her father said that.

CO: Ooo, excellent point there. Perhaps the nurse works for her or they had the room bugged?

MM: Either is a possibility. It’s also a possibility that there is some weird sort of reality sliding going on, or that the whole event was staged.

CO: Hmm.

MM: Ellsworth slides her a folder that says “FOR A BETTER FUTURE,” finally making it’s appearance in this issue, and noting that what they’re working on is perfect for Julie and her abilities. We turn the page, and finally we see who Ellsworth is – the one and only Jade. Cue everyone screaming “WHAT?!”

CO: Yowza!

MM: That just screws up everything for us. Now we really have no idea when this issue takes place. Up until the last page, I had assumed this was in the past. It looked like we were watching some of the origins of the school. There were some clues about it being in the future, but I had shrugged it off when the Cylinder appeared in the flashback. Now it looks like this takes place in the future, in the surviving remnants of Morning Glory Academy where Jade now runs the show after Casey assumedly burned it. Cue infinite questions: where is everyone else? What happened to the school? What about the rest of the Glories? Why is Jade in charge? What is going on? Nick and Joe, why are you doing this to us?

CO: I would have thought that Casey would be in charge if anyone was.

MM: To say the least. And here we have Jade spending an issue trying to recruit someone like Casey. Ostensibly, anyway.

CO: Crazy.

MM: So before I go crazy, what are some theories you have? Or questions, or whatever?

CO: I think I just want you to go crazy. I’ll get my popcorn ready.

MM: Ha! Ok. Brace yourself. Here is my much teased on Twitter theory: Obviously a lot of this issue is in question. Crit and I would like to pretend that we can tell you when this issue takes place, but we very much can’t. We can’t honestly tell you what REALITY this takes place in, given the circumstances – especially with the inclusion of Bell’s theorem and what we’ve learned about that. In actuality, this issue could very much be a parallel dimension, or some kind of crazy time hopping insanity. Given how little we know about the Cylinder and it’s infinite capabilities, I’d say anything is possible. However, the real questions come with the Jade reveal. Jade, who has gone through so many awful things, is now discernably the leader of MGA or what we assume to be the future of MGA. This assumedly makes her a villain, and thus leads to infinite distrust. So we begin to apply some of the things we know. Well, we know that the former teachers are the servants of the students, and we’ve noted in previous Study Halls the apparent grooming of the students to take over the work of the Academy. It’s not implausible to believe that Casey eventually met her goal to destroy the school through fire, and that as the old guard was destroyed, the new guard – or, specifically, Jade – was able to take over, finally understanding the purpose of MGA and their role in the grand scheme. Gribbs has mentioned that the goal of the teacher is not to be a “villain” to her and her friends, but that the goals of the academy are so specific that their methods have to be unorthodox. We can’t possibly guess what these purposes are aside from being SOMETHING “for a better future”, but there is one question that has been biting at the back of my mind throughout the entire issue, and that is: Why Jade? In earlier Study Halls, we’ve noted there is an odd importance to Jade. There are mentions of her “not knowing anything,” as well as her being “empty inside.” Then there are the contradictions. Jade, as Ellsworth, mentions that both her parents had died when she was younger… but, correct me if I’m wrong, as far as we know her father is alive and well. He just pretends she doesn’t exist. In fact, there are only two characters who does not have either REAL parents alive: Casey and Zoe. However, assuming Zoe does not care too much about her real parents (and given that we don’t know if her father ACTUALLY died – at least, not yet), I think it’s safe to cross her out of this running. So. Jade is empty inside. Casey saw the death of both of her parents. And, wouldn’t you know it, at the center of the meeting between Ellsworth and Julie is an apple. Is it AT ALL POSSIBLE – given in an earlier MGA Study Hall, for issue #7 specifically, I mentioned that it’s possible that characters can be possessed, or even have multiple personalities in them – do you think MAYBE that Jade is QUITE LITERALLY a puppet, and that the character we actually see is the future twisting and amalgamation of Casey and Jade? Keep in mind: I am guessing here. But if we are to believe that Casey possessed Zoe in issue #7, it’s not entirely unlikely that maybe we see Jade who is empty, but we’re looking at Casey who is filling her (I’m putting that as polite as I can).

Continued below

CO: Hmmm. Casey, the one who seems to be the leader and most important, the “most likely to save the world”, controlling her fellow student who was “empty.” So the leadership is a two person job (like Gribbs and Daramount), and sometimes it’s only necessary for one actual body to be present?

MM: Kind of. I’m going on the theory here that Casey died in whatever disaster caused the school to get wrecked, and that her “essence” – however you want to define that – now inhabits Jade. Mind you, there is a LOT to contradict this theory. Jade is clearly searching for a “new Casey” throughout this issue, which is Julie. That and I will note that as soon as I read issue #10, I crossed this theory of my list.

CO: We’ve seen some kind of “essence” at the school before. Maybe that essence was controlling “something” and then Casey became the “new essence” that then controlled Jade?

MM: Maybe. I mean, there is that whole “wonky POV” stuff that we’re supposed to pay attention to. There could always be a greater force out there messing around with our students. The only thing I think I have confirmed on my list of theories is the “this has all happened before, this will all happen again” theory. If Jade is recruiting a new Casey, then we can assume every generation has need of someone like Casey, who can activate the Cylinder and has similar traits, with the previous one being Daramount. My “Jade is a puppet being controlled by Casey” theory was one I’m proud of, but I can’t stand behind it anymore due to Issue #10. Jade just seems like the type of character who isn’t truly… well, real. Not like the other characters. She doesn’t seem like a real girl, although what that means I couldn’t tell you.

CO: I see. Great stuff.

MM: Sooooo…. You got anything? Hahaha.

CO: I’m going to just give you a standing ovation, and call it a day.

MM: Alright then! Well, there you have it. Time travel insanity, puppet people, and all sorts of bizarro stuff as a result of issue #6 of Morning Glories! Take some time to sit on these thoughts, and let us know what you think. We’ll be back tomorrow with our look at issue #10, but prepare yourselves – it’s a doozy.

//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."


Crit Obara

Crit Obara is a longtime friend of Matthew's. He previously covered LOST for MC, and now co-writes MGA Study Hall. He is the man behind the curtain of and you can follow him on Twitter @crittweets.


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