My previous review did little to hide my love of the first six issues, so let me get this out of the way first: Volume 2 (Issues 7-12) of this prep-school-turned-prison comic series is every bit as brilliant as the first. If you've read the first volume, you'd know this is high praise. The series started with a bang; it would be easy to fizzle (for example, see any Marvel event of the past few years.) Thankfully, Nick Spencer's snappy writing maintains the intrigue throughout, keeping the reader engrossed for another six issues.
This volume of Morning Glories takes its focus away from Morning Glories Academy ever so slightly (although there is still plenty of chaos in the boarding school's halls), as five of the six issues of this volume are devoted to revealing the backgrounds of five of our Glories. Each seems to have some sort of quirk or ability that makes them unique, and Spencer does a fantastic job of introducing them to us while still keeping it cryptic enough to keep it interesting.
As we explore the histories of Zoe, Hunter, Jun, Jade, and Ike, we discover that painting them as the mere archetypes from the first volume is, unsurprisingly, a clear mistake. In some cases, the students shockingly demonstrate that they can be just as twisted as the faculty. I don't think I could have ever guessed that issue 7 would end the way it did, literally throwing out any assumptions I had of any of the characters.
Thankfully, not everything is bloody evisceration in these issues (although there is a bit of that.) We do see a potential budding romance, some brotherly sacrifice, some levity. The final issue of the volume introduces the much-loved guidance counselor Lara Hodge, who seems to be the only positive force in the entire faculty, in what is possibly the best introduction of any character to date. It seems she has a plan for Casey, one that could possibly save them all. But when she says that her plan could raise the dead, we can't help but wonder what's in store for us.
Nick Spencer's writing continues to be magnificently daring and extremely well paced - again, not a filler issue in sight. Spencer does give us some answers, but throws back a dozen more questions. What's so special about the shared birthday, exactly at 11:59 PM? What was so intriguing with Hunter's MRI? Why 8:13? Who is Abraham? Each question makes us salivate at the infinite possibilities ahead of us. Also in this volume, Spencer introduces his storytelling device of repeating certain scenes, in order to explore them from parallel angles and perspectives. This device, while not new, does add to the tension, as it illustrates just how all of the craziness of Morning Glories Academy is literally happening at the same time. (And this is jumping ahead a few issues, but is it merely a device? Or is this time loop tied to just how "trapped" they are?)
Once again, Joe Eisma remains eminently capable of illustrating the emotional spectrum. There's a bit of a body count in this volume, so there's plenty of rage, jealousy, and sadness to go around, and Eisma captures them all. He plays to his strengths, as there very few frames in the entire volume that doesn't show a person emoting (save for two pages played out in darkness.) I do admit, the setting does seem a little bland: the dorms have bare beige walls, the library seems dominated by brown, even a greenhouse full of flowers seems visually muted. This could be a conscious choice, though, with Eisma and colorist Alex Sollazzo illustrating the Academy as abnormally plain in order to compound just how unnatural this place is.
Morning Glories, Volume 2 continues to maintain the exceptional quality present in the first. I won't embarrass myself by gushing over it anymore. Just go get it. Now. Seriously.