Morning Glories, Vol. 1

(2011)
Morning Glories book cover

The short version: This collection of the compelling first 12 issues of the mystery-horror comic book series set in a twisted boarding school is a satisfying hook that will make fans of readers who enjoy grim graphic stories with a dash of the fantastic, like The Walking Dead or The Unwritten. Enticed? Read on.

Nick Spencer's Morning Glories is one of those comics that keeps you in the dark about what's going on. I'd say it keeps you guessing, but it would be a rare success for any reader to guess the what's happening in an issue/chapter. And this is fun--an excellent hook.

This volume introduces six teens heading off to Morning Glories Academy, a prestigious college prep school, where they do few of the things you'd expect to see in a story set in a school, like attend class, go on dates, or give mom a weekly update phone call. Instead, they're cut off from communicating with their parents, nearly drowned in a locked room that fills with water, injected with green stuff, planning to make tear gas, and that's just in the first couple of issues.

The school is collecting teens who were born on May 4th. Why? Dunno. Some of them aren't the ones they're looking for--their eyes haven't been opened or something. More mysteries. Why do the school teachers seem to be evil and experimenting on kids? Who is the Headmaster they keep referring to? At this point, he's like Jacob from Lost--potentially an invisible being who expresses his dissatisfaction with teachers by slashing them up. And you'll read on because you want answers--it's apt that Damon Lindenhof wrote the intro, as the first season of Lost inspires the same sort of story-addiction.

The characters are interesting. At the beginning, they're brought in as stereotypes--the good, smart student; the spoiled rich boy; the catty snob; the Star Wars referencing, awkward guy; etc. Luckily, they develop a bit in these first 12 issues, while the torturer/teachers remain mysterious in their motivations and histories.

The story flows well and fast. There's action in addition to the mysteries, and Spencer will leave a scene hanging, brings a separate one to an equally compelling point and returns to the first, tugging each along a little at a time, driving you to zip through the pages to get to the end of a story arc. And it was good, so you start the next one. And probably finish it.

Which makes this a difficult book not to read in one sitting. The creepiness of the teachers, the mad science of the school, the surprising violence and intriguing back stories of the characters are all, in my opinion, the story's best qualities, but could be the worst if you prefer gentler fare. If you like horror stories/films, David Lynch-style mysteries where you've no hope of knowing what's going on, and stories featuring high school students/politics, you'll probably get into The Morning Glories.

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