The much-anticipated MORNING GLORIES #1 has been published by Image Comics, and Royal Nonesuch takes a look!
Credits & Solicit Info:
story NICK SPENCER, art JOE EISMA, cover RODIN ESQUEJO
48 PAGES, FC, $3.99
The most anticipated new series of the year starts here! Morning Glory Academy is one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country... But behind it's hallowed doors something sinister and deadly lurks. When six brilliant but troubled new students arrive, they find themselves trapped and desperately seeking answers in a place where nothing is what it seems to be!
There's been a lot of talk in the last decade about the relationship comics and cinema. Are comics really only "movies on paper," as some have said (no they aren't)? The fact is, there are formal elements that make each medium unique. Certainly there can be some overlap, but some scripts try to have it both ways, and are pretty problematic.
Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma's MORNING GLORIES #1 takes a cinematic approach to its storytelling, which turns out to be more of a hinderance than anything. So much of this issue feels like it was written for the screen, and would work a lot better in motion. A particularly glaring moment comes when the six students central to the story sit down for orientation, and one of them thinks he spots a violent image quickly flashed on the screen during a slideshow. The problem with this scene is that the reader isn't dealing with a flash frame, but with a static image that occupies the same amount of space as the slides that precede it. In a comic book, time and space are linked, so visually there's nothing to differentiate the amount of time one slide is on the screen in this scene. MORNING GLORIES #1 is full of these types of moments where the writing and visual storytelling just don't entirely fit together.
As for the story itself, it shows flashes of humor and fun alongside a creepy storyline. The issue starts with an action scene before introducing us to the six main characters, five of them individually in somewhat lengthy exposition scenes (the sixth gets a much more brief, and impactful, introduction). Although exaggerated in a fun way, the characters are still very much a collection of types, which this type of story seems to thrive upon. There's a lot of set up in this issue that leads to a cliffhanger, but it all feels like the story is only doing the bare minimum it needs to.
It almost seems appropriate then that the art is so bare bones. Eisma's art is technically proficient, and the panel-to-panel storytelling all works very well, but the figure drawing is really not very interesting. Overall, it suffers from what seems to be plaguing so many new independent comics nowadays: stiff figures, elementary layouts and a lack of contrast in the colors.
Formally speaking, MORNING GLORIES #1 has learned a lot from motion picture, but unfortunately, it doesn't apply those lessons to comic very well, and there isn't much else to the issue to find all that compelling. On the other hand, the premise is interesting, and the cliffhanger feels like it could pay off in a fun way. Here's hoping this is a story that can overcome a bumpy first issue.