Hello and welcome back to Morning Glory Academy Study Hall! In this column, MC contributor (and TV Overmind writer/FuckYeahLost’s head honcho) Crit Obara sit down and (over) analyze the latest issue of Morning Glories. Last week our chat about issue #8 was so well received that Crit and I talked and agreed that we had to go backand chat about the previous 7 issues. So here is our chat for issue #7, the All Zoe All The Time issue!
We’ll be back again for the first six issues soon, and look forward to our issue #9 discussion in late April.
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.
Matthew Meylikhov: Welcome back to Study Hall! We had such a great reaction last week to our work that Crit and I have gotten together again to work backwards through the series until the 9th issue comes out! So say hi, Crit!
Crit Obara: Howdy!
MM: Today we are going to talk about issue #7, the beginning of the second issue and the All Zoe, All The Time issue!
CO: This issue just reminded me of the time I tried out for the cheering squad in high school. Then I got sad.
MM: I remember that…..
MM: Ok! So. We open in Mumbai, India. A brand new character appears named Abraham, who is walking down the hall with a man named Sudhir discussing children and faith, only to have us meet….. young Zoe! Crit, I don’t know about you, but with these three pages alone, I have a butt ton of notes.
CO: I’m not even sure just how much a butt ton is, but I poop a lot so I can imagine it’s a great wealth of knowledge! I’ll go first since I just have a small snippet of information here.
MM: By all means!
CO: Sudhir means “firm, very wise, considerate.”
MM: I did not know that. Wow. Nice call.
CO: Sudhir doesn’t seem to be very important, however. Abraham is VERY intriguing on the other hand.
MM: Yes, and it doesn’t hurt that we have knowledge of the next issue, which once again opens with Abraham meeting a younger version of one of our heroes.
CO: Indeed! This is his big Morning Glories debut!
MM: And it’s quite a big deal as well, as my notes indicate to (at the very least) me! The very first thing I have jotted down here is that our friend Sudhir mentions that people in Mumbai believe that the children are psychics or reincarnated spirits. That HAS to be important, considering that a) in the next scene, Zoe displays some kind of psychic abilities, b) we’ve seen “ideas” of reincarnation previously in the book with issue #3, and c) later in the issue, Zoe once again shows a possible psychic connection. Granted – a lot of Morning Glories is very mysterious, and the immediate bringing up of faith does throw an interesting twist/wrench into the idea of psychic abilities as an ability. But I wouldn’t put it past Spencer and Eisma to give their characters some supernatural powers.
CO: I thought it was interesting that faith and psychic connections were thrown at us all at once. Two very different things. The idea of the characters having supernatural powers is just plain fun.Continued below
MM: This also brings up fate vs. free will, as we talked about last time. Although here Abraham goes so far as to define fate, as “putting your hand in someone else’s and learning to take the good with the bad.” That is definitely a recurring thematic idea in Morning Glories already.
CO: For sure! That started early with the fact that they’re linked cosmically, as in they all have the same birthday.
I would guess there are other connections too that we haven’t seen yet.
MM: Speaking of connections! So now we meet Zoe, and the very first thing we learn about her is that her mother was a whore who was killed by her father. And if I’m mistaken, there is another character who has a dead mother, isn’t there?
CO: I do believe you’re right!
MM: Who is that character? Do you remember his or her name?
MM: Oh. Well, it’s Hunter! I suppose this is where having read the next issue starts to illuminate additional things. As in, it lets us cheat a little bit!
CO: It sure does. I didn’t think TOO much about Abraham’s first appearance. After seeing him again in issue #8 I realized that we’d probably be seeing a lot more of him.
MM: Oh, definitely.
CO: This took place 13 years ago in Mumbai. I tried to see if there was anything special that happened around that time in Mumbai, but came up empty.
MM: All that pops up in my head when I think of Mumbai is Slumdog Millionaire… I blame Danny Boyle.
CO: Well as far as we know, none of these kids have been on a game show. Yet.
MM: So Abraham meets Zoe, and the very first thing she says to him? Aside from finishing his sentence, of course. She calls him by his name and then refers to him as “dear friend,” stating that she knows who he is (without revealing to us what that information is, of course).
CO: She also said that she knew “what must be done.”
MM: What are you taking from this sequence, Crit?
CO: One crazy thought I had – and it’s crazy – was that they knew each other in some past life or other dimension. A less crazy thought is that she can read minds.
MM: I don’t think that in this context that’s that crazy of a notion. Honestly, in reading this and the next issue, I’m kind of getting the impression that Abraham might be an enemy of Morning Glory Academy. As in, the reason we’re following the characters that we’re following is – assumedly – because they will be the ones to expose the conspiracy of this school and maybe shut it down. I kind of get the feeling that the reason Abraham is visiting them so young is to put them in a position to help him destroy the school and whatever it is “doing,” in the larger context and all that. The school can’t NOT have enemies, right?
CO: Very interesting point. That changes everything really, if it were true. Someone outside of Morning Glory Academy must know about it, and they could definitely be enemies of the school.
MM: I don’t think it’s that far off to think that Abraham is that enemy anymore. Ok, so that’s the first three pages of this comic alone. We have hidden meanings in names, psychic powers, possible enemies, and dead mothers. Yeesh. We really dug in pretty hard there!!
CO: Yowza! Don’t worry though, there’s plenty more to go!
MM: So we turn the page to page 4, and now we have Zoe and Casey in present time in their dorm room.
CO: Zoe is upset.
MM: And rightly so! After last arc’s adventures, she kinda got the short end of the stick. Right off the bat, Casey once again mentions something that required some Googling: Nitriles. Do you know anything about Nitriles, Crit?
CO: No sir!
MM: Neither do I, because like Casey, Chemistry was NEVER my thing. But I did some research of course, and found out the following: A nitrile is any organic combound that has a -Câ‰¡N functional group. Further research shows that through nitriles, one can create compounds of chemicals in order to create cyanide, a highly toxic poison, as well as acid.Continued below
CO: Sounds dangerous and out of my league!
MM: Verily. But I can’t help but think of the very opening to Morning Glories, when two kids tried to escape via concoctions made in science class. If we (kind of cheat and) look at the next issue with Casey researching Nero, it kind of seems like Casey is slowly putting together a new plan of attack that is spread out between these issues – one that involves acids and another that involves lighting the school on fire.
CO: That could be. Except we haven’t seen anything about burning written on the walls, have we? Though we don’t know exactly what all that means yet!
MM: Not yet, no. This scene also becomes rather rapid fire with references, because Zoe is very clearly culturally inclined. She calls Jade “Bella” and refers to Bad Lieutenant as well. I’m going to ASSUME Bella is a reference to Twilight and not that film called Bella from a few years ago, would that be fair?
CO: Probably not.
MM: I mean, clearly Spencer is indicating that Jade is in love with a sparkly vampire here.
CO: Oh yeah! Now I see the light. The sparkly, sparkly, light.
MM: And Bad Lieutenant is obviously a reference to the film series starring Harvey Keitel and Nic Cage, which is about – you guessed it – bad lieutenant who has a drug problem. What’s interesting about her bringing this up, specifically the line about getting violated, is that a) her mother was a whore, who was assumedly violated a few times (no offense, Zoe’s mom), and b) we learn later that her friend was involved in “rape games,” which we’ll touch on a bit later. So… uhm… interesting word choices there.
CO: Rape, drugs and Nic Cage. Sounds like a bad movie Nic Cage would do. But the word choice there is very interesting. I hadn’t thought of that.
MM: I told you, my notes are excessively involved this week! Hahaha.
CO: I approve!
MM: So Zoe storms off, and now we get our first look at something very interesting – cheerleading at Morning Glory Academy. I honestly think this is one of the most interesting things brought up by this issue, because now we learn that the Academy does interact with other schools, because the new girl – Amanda – mentions that they have “two squads for intramurals.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but that does mean they compete elsewhere, right? Or – is it only varsity that competes with other schools?
CO: Intramural means inside the school – two squads made up of Morning Glory Academy girls. That’s how I took it.
MM: Ah, my bad. But even so, this is probably the first “normal” thing we’ve seen any characters do, and this is our first real interaction with characters outside of our group.
CO: True. It seemed out of character for the school to have a cheering squad. Nothing else we’ve seen has shown us that they’re a normal school until this.
MM: That opens all sorts of odd doors of possibilities, as well as the question… well, what is Amanda’s “purpose”? Outside of her role in this issue, of course. Like, what brought HER to the school?
CO: Interesting question. I wonder if we’ll get to know her (or any other students) in the future. I wonder if her and a bunch of other students share the same birthday connection.
MM: Well… I don’t think we’ll get to know much more of her… but we’ll get to that, hahaha.
CO: Well, that is true.
MM: So as Zoe and Amanda interact, we get our next flashback for Zoe from a year ago, with her as a normal high school student, cheering for the Bobcats. I will not lie – I have gotten so intensive about looking up references, I actually read the Wikipedia page about Bobcats to see if there was anything interesting about them that I could connect to the comic.
CO: And did you find anything?Continued below
MM: …not really, no. Some cool things about Bobcats territorial habits, but we haven’t seen any character in the comic urinate boundaries or scratch up trees, soooo…..
CO: Well, Zoe’s professor comes in and mentions that her paper on Twain is late. I’m assuming he meant Mark Twain, is that fair?
MM: I thought the same thing, yes. And if they had mentioned something more specific about Twain, I would probably have written a billion notes about it.
CO: Well, Mark Twain’s birth and death coincided with Halley’s Comet approaching Earth.
MM: I did not know that!
CO: He also had a strong belief in the paranormal, and some characters ins his books had mystic connections. These two things made me think of the Morning Glories students and their mutual birthdate.
MM: That is an interesting note. I like that a lot. He was also interested in science, and was friends with Nikola Tesla. Science definitely plays a part in Morning Glories, let alone this issue with Zoe being knowledgable in the subject
MM: I don’t think there is a connection to Morning Glories with here, but I just want to throw out there that Twain wrote one of my favorite stories of all time, The Mysterious Stranger. It’s a very dark story, and he never finished it, but it was about Satan visiting Earth and people on Earth and saying a lot of very, very dark things about how life is meaningless. Don’t ask me why it’s one of my favorite stories… hahaha. But it’s a really well written piece, and I feel like some of the ideas of theology that he discusses in it could in some way have a connection to Morning Glories, albeit an unintentional one.
CO: Alright, I won’t ask!
MM: We also learn in this scene that Zoe is a virgin, which I don’t think it’s rude to say we had assumed she wasn’t due to her rather… cavalier attitude, and how we were introduced to her in the first issue. Although I suppose that could have changed in between when this scene takes place and when we met her.
MM: Yes, and her Morning Glories teaser was “Most Likely To Cheat On You.”
CO: She’s a strange one.
MM: So before we flash back to the present, I have one more note I think is important for this scene Sarah goes off to “finish her report,” telling Zoe to meet her at 5. This is once again knowledge we have gained from cheating, but 5 is the time that Casey tells Hunter to meet her for their date.
CO: Hmm. Could mean something, could just be a good time in each situation. If the next issue uses the same time, then it will be worth monitoring for sure.
MM: Definitely. Ok, so we flash forward into the future with Amanda and Zoe at the lunch line. Here is where Amanda starts getting interesting. Amanda mentions that having extracurricular activities will get the “faculty off your back a little,” and even goes so far as to mention that in the cheerleading initiation there will be no “torture or explosions,” and that the sprinklers on the soccer field are not full of “hydrochloric acid.” Uhm. Excuse me, what? Does this mean that the other students are fully aware of the insanity of this school, yet they just deal with it?
CO: Definitely some questions there. Clearly being tortured is not that odd. Is she just saying these things or are those things really known to happen?
MM: She just throws it out there so cavalier! She claims it’s something that the faculty is just trying to scare the kids with. …scaring the kids… with torture.
CO: It certainly sounds like it’s happened before by the way she says it.
MM: She mentions that she’s been there for a year, and that there’s a settling in period where MGA just becomes a normal place. Again. A normal place where the faculty SCARES the kids by TORTURING them. If that’s not the biggest clue that Amanda is in cahoots with the faculty, I don’t know what is!Continued below
CO: I got the feeling that at the school, you either join up with the faculty or you end up dead. I’m not sure there’s anything in between.
MM: I’m not sure an “in between” exists with what you just mentioned.
CO: I don’t like my school, but at least no professors have ever tortured me!
MM: Crit, we go to Morning Glory Academy, remember?
CO: Oh, yes yes of course. I meant my former school!
MM: Hahaha, of course. So right before Amanda leaves us, we have a quick appearance by characters named Steve and Chad. I wonder if they’ll be important?
CO: Maybe it’s Steve and Chad from New Found Glory.
MM: New Found Morning Glory?
MM: This is one of those moments where I wish I could edit our discussion of the eighth issue, because we totally should have caught Chad and Steve being introduced previously!
CO: Oops? When were they introduced? I don’t recall.
MM: Amanda and Zoe bump into them at the lunch line right before Amanda leaves Zoe.
CO: Ah, yes, that’s right!
MM: And then they just randomly walk off. At first you’re like, “Wow, this school has actual other students!” And then in the next issue, those two in particular become fairly important.
CO: Thanks for the refresher on that one! Now, should we talk about what Zoe did in her flashback?
MM: Almost! I have one more note!
MM: Zoe and Hunter have a chat in the lunch room, and Zoe grabs an apple. Apples keep appearing in Morning Glories. I have not figured out an idea why, and mostly they appear with Casey, but Zoe holding an apple in this issue… I feel there has to be a connection here. I mean, the most I can find when researching apples is a reference to the story of Adam and Eve, where Eve takes the apple from the tree of knowledge and in eating it becomes “aware.” It’s also considered a mystical/forbidden fruit in several religions.
MM: Certainly Zoe and Casey both being girls and handling apples could have SOME kind of connection to the story of Adam and Eve, at least in the “acquiring of knowledge” aspect?
MM: I honestly feel that the apple is symbolism we need to watch out for, because it has appeared too many times NOT to be!
CO: The apple is officially on WATCH!
MM: …Although… on one thought, if the apple represents the temptation to sin in a sexual nature, and the flashback scene has to do with…… well, why don’t we discuss the flashback now?
CO: Sure! Sarah, a girl at Zoe’s old school, is playing what turns out to be a “rape game” with their teacher in his office. Zoe comes in and ends up killing him to save Sarah.
MM: This was quite disturbing! And I suppose it’s worth mentioning that Sarah was 23 minutes late to meeting Zoe (with the cellphone time being 5:23, which is probably not important in the grand scheme of things).
CO: Hm, good catch.
MM: I think what’s interesting about the flashback is that Zoe is extremely unrepentant about the action, and that she immediately knows what to do in this situation. She knows to burn the body right away, without the slightest bit of a freakout. If I were to accidentally murder someone, I think I’d be more like Sarah than Zoe.
CO: I would too. And what you just mentioned – what she does following the murder – leads back to what’s going on at Morning Glory Academy. The meeting takes place, and the cheerleaders have 3 questions for Zoe. The first is about her earliest memory. Her earliest memory? Her father killing her mother. Question 2 asks her what the worst thing she’s ever done. Disposing of the man she murdered.
MM: Well, I think the worst thing she’s done is murder someone, but yes, that all ties together. I also think it’s interesting that she remembers her mother’s murder, because in the beginning of the issue her mother is mentioned as inconsequential. Clearly Zoe had some kind of connection to her mother to the point that, if you think about it, we didn’t actually see Zoe’s father. Considering Zoe knows what to do after killing someone, it’s quite possible that either a) she watched her father deal with the murder of her mother and/or b) she murdered her father.Continued below
CO: Very interesting point. Perhaps she was just doing what daddy did.
MM: It wouldn’t surprise me. Another interesting thing about this scene is that in talking to to Amanda, Amanda once again mentions Zoe’s paranoia towards violence and how defensive she is against the school. Amanda also is incredibly receptive to the idea that she’s literally just fishing for information with Zoe, because Zoe clearly doesn’t buy into Amanda’s “shock” at her actions.
CO: Zoe definitely seems above that, yes.
MM: And it’s still weird to me that Amanda knowing that the school is violent and “evil” doesn’t bother her, or even the other girls.
CO: They’re very much parts of the crazy machine.
MM: Oh, and what about that goat, eh?
CO: I liked that Zoe thought she’d have to kiss or sacrifice it (I might have that wrong).
MM: Heh… not kiss, exactly…
CO: Oh yes, haha.
MM: Although, now you’ve made me think. Why is it ok to kill a person, but not a goat?
CO: Good question. I guess that goes along with the fact that most people will hate someone more for being cruel to dogs than being cruel to humans. Humans can defend themselves, animals don’t have that ability in all cases.
MM: I personally hate when people in movies or TV shows or comics hurt cats.
CO: Well that’s because cats are AWESOME!
MM: Yeah!!! So the cheerleaders ask her about someone named David, and then the conversation ends. I don’t know if you remember this, but the first time we heard of David was issue #5, where Zoe meets that weird… ghost person thing who is made out of two people shifting? Kind of? This “thing” comes to Zoe’s rescue, and she calls him David as he fades away into nothing while Casey and Zoe are near that crazy turbine machine thing.
CO: Oh yes! Good one, I’d forgotten that. These things I’ve forgotten are making me even more excited to re-read these issues and look harder at them!
MM: Well, there’s a bit of clue there on the next page, as Miss Daramount is watching a video of the incident on a screen in her office (which actually works perfectly considering on the page before, Zoe calls the school something straight out of an Orwell novel). Miss Daramount being Big Brother certainly works.
CO: I loved that.
MM: But yes. David. The weird phasing man that saves Zoe. ANY guesses as to who he is?
CO: I really am not sure at this point. The things I’ve thought of are all about some kind of ghost-type being that maybe was a student/teacher/headmaster before and was thrown out and now haunts the place?
MM: I think he is most likely some kind of … how do I say this? Like, a being that is to anyone what they want it to be? Zoe sees it as David, someone else might see it as someone else important to them.
CO: An all-encompassing shape-shifting spector. I could get behind that.
MM: And a very deadly one to boot. Alright, so let’s work our way to the final scene, which has a lot to talk about. Amanda reveals her connection with Miss Darabount, which in turn reveals that Amanda is doing this for favors of her own. She seems to once again be knowledgable that bad things happen to students at this school, and her willingness to “go native” in a sense is what is saving her and the other cheerleaders at the moment. But as much as you can protect yourself from one horrible end, it seems there is always another lurking around the corner, because as Amanda attempts to escape, all the doors around her mysteriously begin to lock and shut and she is confronted by a very angry Zoe.Continued below
CO: And she won’t be making it back to the cafe for dinner!
MM: Gotta love the irony of Darabount saying “Plenty more use of you to be made.” Oops!
CO: Also, Daramount is an anagram for Trauma Don. She is the Don of trauma.
MM: Huh. Interesting. Ok. So. Amanda’s death. There’s a LOT that happens here worth talking about.
The first is that all the doors shut on their own, which could possibly be caused by psychic/telekinetic abilities.
CO: Very possible. I’d say likely, even.
MM: The next thing to mention is that here, the dialogue from the beginning of the book is mentioned again.
MM: Right. She quotes him exactly, just as she spoke for him at the beginning of the issue. The next thing – and what I think is arguably the most important and interesting thing about the scene – is that we only actually see Zoe ONCE in the entirety of the scene. Throughout the entire ordeal, she is in shadows, until we see her from Amanda’s point of view, at which point she is blurry, as if made up of multiple people (similar to the David creature thing). And then as she walks away, we once again never see her face.
CO: There has to be a good reason why it’s presented to us in that manner.
MM: Well, Spencer had mentioned in an article with Comic Book Resources that scenes where we see things from a character’s POV is important. The fact that we don’t see Zoe clearly, and that Amanda sees her in only one shot as a blurry entity, could possibly maybe mean that this wasn’t actually Zoe. Yes, she’s quoting Abraham, but if the doors can magically lock then I don’t think it’s that hard to believe that the appearance of Zoe is some kind of psychic projection.
CO: I like it. Now if “it’s” not her, is she controlling “it”? Probably not. Is she aware of “it”? Hm.
MM: Well, if you look at the page where we see Zoe from the front, her eyes look kind of dazed. As if she’s not all there.
CO: Any guesses as to what’s really going on?
MM: Not exactly. I’m kind of ready to blame Casey again, honestly. I don’t have any evidence this time, though. And I suppose it could also be Abraham, if we’re going for the whole possession thing. I’m just not readily willing to admit that Zoe is in complete control here.
CO: Gotcha. I like that you went right to Casey. When things go wrong we can just blame it on her!
MM: She’s a trouble maker! And finally, to top off the entire scene, we have ALL WILL BE FREE written above the body of the dead Amanda.
CO: Yes, the last four words of my notes. ALL WILL BE FREE. Seems to go along with the hour of the release draws near.
MM: Yes, although we don’t know how yet. And I actually have one more note that I think might spin you in your chair.
CO: Go for it!
MM: Alright, watch as I bust some knowledge bombs here! So the unseen Zoe murders Amanda, and we don’t see Zoe walking down the hall. We only see Zoe fully when she enters her dorm room, in which Casey is sitting and doing homework. Zoe immediately tells Casey that if she hasn’t solved her work yet, the answer is “Lithium.” This is interesting because a) Casey doesn’t ask for help, and b) lithium (according to my research) has nothing to do with nitriles. This leads me to two more ideas. The first is that Zoe knew what Casey was doing due to psychic abilities. The second is that, upon research of what Lithium is via Wikipedia, I found that it is used to treat and prevent episodes of mania in people with bipolar disorder. SO!!! I didn’t mention this theory earlier, but what if Zoe has some sort of split personality thing going on? Perhaps that’s why Amanda saw her as that weird phase-shifting person – because there is more than one Zoe inside Zoe, to whatever that might mean. The final line of the issue – “I guess I got it out of my system” – doesn’t exactly hurt that theory. Because if my theory is correct, that there is more than one Zoe in Zoe, then it would stand to reason that she wouldn’t really know if she got something out of her system. She “guesses” because she feels different now, but that murder we just saw wasn’t neccesarily her.Continued below
CO: So she has two sides that aren’t exactly aware of each other?
MM: Well, they’re somewhat aware of each other. Think of like…. think of the Hulk. Bruce Banner and the Hulk know each other exist, but only one can exist at a time, and usually they work together to “take care” of things. Or, I guess just think of Jekyll and Hyde. Except without a clear split between “good” and “evil.”
CO: I think that is very possible
MM: I’m not too off my rocker with this one?
CO: Not at all! It makes a lot of sense, and like you said, her line about getting it out of her system helps you.
MM: I am absolutely firm in my belief that Zoe is not entirely responsible for her actions in this scene. It could be her being “possessed”, but I honestly lean closer to the idea of her having multiple personalities within her.
CO: I support it.
MM: High five! For a minute there I was afraid that all the notes I had taken had begun to warp my own vision, hahaha.
CO: Well I don’t think anything is out of the question, but that’s really solid stuff.
MM: I mean, I was fairly close back in the day when LOST was on and I made my epic theory about the circles and the Man In Black, remember? So I’d like to imagine I’m at least in the ball park here. Not to toot my own horn or anything…
CO: TOOT TOOT.
MM: Well, that wraps it up for my notes! Anything we didn’t discuss?
CO: My notes have all been covered!
MM: Nice! Well, ok, then! Crit and I will be back soon for coverage of the 9th issue of Morning Glories, as well as a look back at the first six, so keep your eyes and ears peeled and tuned!
CO: For now, I’m off to the cafe to see if Chad and Steve are there.
MM: Well, I hope that all will be well for you.