Morning Glories Academy. Nothing is right here.
Although this review is way too late, there is one thing that won't change: the first issue of Morning Glories opens up in a way that you'll likely never forget. A single phrase ("For a better future") catches the eye in the first frames, transitioning to a seemingly normal classroom setting with a teacher who, under normal circumstances, would probably get a few male students hot under the collar with visions of being punished after school. Soon, and without explanation, things go straight to hell.
And I love it. No allusions, no teasing. Right out of the gate: Morning Glories Academy is not normal. And they put an exclamation point on that particular notion by quickly introducing a character that will make you ask, "What the f**k lives in the basement?!"
The series' main characters are then introduced, as six new students are prepping for their first day of classes at the prestigious Morning Glories Academy, completely unaware of what's awaiting them. The three boys and three girls fit common archetypes: Casey, the beautiful, blonde overachiever; Zoe, the sultry, manipulative bitch; Ike, the smarmy, privileged jerk; Jun, the strong and silent; Hunter, the responsible, awkward nerd; and Jade, the tortured and lonely. Ultimately, there's nothing all that similar about them, with one twist: they all have the same birthday.
Writer Nick Spencer plays to these archetypes to make them feel fleshed out instead of making them feel like echoes of someone we've heard before. As they attend their first days at MGA, we learn quickly that everything about their lives are controlled by the sadistic faculty, lead by the faceless Headmaster. Within the first volume, we see through Casey just how twisted the players are in this game, as they torture her both psychologically and physically, and then release her to return to class the next day. Casey enlists the other students to attempt an escape, but, despite careful planning, the group finds themselves only with more questions, as they fall more deeply entreched in the mysteries of MGA. Part Lost, part Breakfast Club.
This is the brilliant thing about Spencer's writing - it's bold and decisive. There are no filler issues. We find out about their shared birthday in all of three pages. There are a lot of questions, and we don't have many answers, but at no point do we ever feel like we're being strung along waiting for an answer. You don't know what to expect, but you're riveted the entire way.
Joe Eisma's art is top-notch with a particular talent for capturing emotion on the young students' faces. While he lacks somewhat in frames with a lot of simultaneous action, nothing he draws is sub-par. On the contrary, Eisma masterfully supplements Spencer's words with every look on the emotional spectrum - and, for a book that's part-horror, part-suspense, and part-teenage angst, emotions are important.
Long story short, pick up Morning Glories, Vol. 1 now and give it a read (trade paperback, digital copy.) If you love suspense and are seeking to fill a certain "We have to go back!" island's void in your life, I doubt you'll be disappointed. For a better future.