Morning Glories #25
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Joe Eisma
Colors by Alex Sollazzo
Letters by Johnny Lowe
Review by Joey Braccino
“Season One” of Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma’s break-out series, Morning Glories, comes to an end this week with all of the brain-bending, mind-melting, and physics-flipping action that it has become known for. Often lauded as Image’s (and, more expansively, comicdom’s) own version of LOST, Morning Glories has quickly escalated over the last two years from a budding story about a mysterious boarding school with sci-fi/horror undertones to a full-blown comics mythos about time-travel, cult-psychology, religiosity, and an eons-long war between forces of good, evil, and sort-of-good-and-evil. This “season finale” captures all of that expansiveness in its oversized, 48-page body, hearkening back to the very first sequence from the very first issue and “resolving” some lingering mysteries (i.e. – posing several new questions for the few answers provided, reminiscent of its LOST forefather).
First, the story. Long-time readers of Morning Glories will enjoy the decidedly downtempo and more emotional bent of this issue versus the high-octane, everyone-seems-to-be-getting-shot pacing of the last 3 issues. Spencer makes the interesting choice of spending more time in this “season finale” in flashback mode or, to a larger extent, in more meditative, walk-and-talk sequences involving several characters—Hunter, Ike, and Hisao specifically—pointedly asking for explanations and answers. Considering all of forward motion, action, violence, explosions, time-travel, and LOST-esque flashback-induced character development that has occurred while our characters have suffered through the Woodrun, the shift in pace is welcome if only so that we as readers can sit back and actually digest all of the insanity that has occurred over the last dozen issues.
And digest we do. Hisao and Jun get a powerful beat after a shocking development from two issues ago. We revisit Hunter after a shocking cliffhanger from three issues ago. And the final panel of this issue goes all the way back to issue 16!!! Spencer has been playing the long-game on this series since the very first issue, and he takes care to remind us of that through a montage of panels taking us through all of the interconnected plot points from the entire “season.” Granted, it’s one of those typical Morning Glories “We’re essentially going to repeat exact panels from previous issues to both remind you of something that happened and… take up pages,” but it doesn’t mean that it’s any less effective.
Finally, Joe Eisma’s art. Eisma’s hyper-realistic aesthetic has become one of the most recognizable examples of Image’s “house” artistic style. Without Eisma’s cinematic lay-outs and kinetic figure-work, I don’t know if readers would have bought into Spencer’s way-out-there story. When readers got frustrated with the lack of clear answers or forward motion, we always had Eisma’s gorgeous artwork to look at. Not that that happened often, but still—the art makes or breaks a comic, no matter how fantastic the story may be. Thankfully, Eisma’s been up to the task from day one. Alex Sollazzo’s color palette is a crucial component to Morning Glories cinematic feel. From the eerie glow of the mysterious monster, David, to the blistering flames in the background of the opening sequence, Sollazzo’s work is at once vibrant and unsettling, complementing the thrilling nature of the narrative.
For long-time readers of Morning Glories, issue #25 is an excellent “season finale” for the last two years of storytelling. I put “season finale” in quotes because, frankly, we’re still no closer to any sort of resolution or answers. Heck, we’re not even out of the woods yet! But Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma deliver yet another forward-moving issue in the larger mystery of Morning Glory Academy, this time slowing down the pace enough to really feel the weight and magnitude of all the insane developments since issue #13. This issue provides a better understanding of the larger mythos at play, and it effectively establishes the stakes for the season to come.
As for new readers, while each issue of Morning Glories is thrilling and action-packed, it might be better to hold back until next issue to jump on. And jump on you definitely should. Morning Glories is one of the best books on the stands today. No joke.