My experience of Nick Spencer is solely based upon his run on Thunder Agents. He has an ability to create an environment and plotline that develops genuine suspense and mystery. Joe Eisma is a newcomer to my comic pull list but he has drawn a few creator owned titles at Image comics. Morning Glories is the name of a school intended for gifted teenagers but quickly becomes a horror location as the book develops into a tense thriller. All the kids seem to play a role in some gruesome trials for an unrevealed ultimate purpose. A significant amount of time is devoted to the origins of these characters adding to their depth and motivation. The book has sold incredibly well over the past two years and continues to be a staple creator owned title.
Spencer is a writer of few words, and he must have a less than average words per page ratio. Despite this, there is never a dull moment in this book and every panel serves a purpose in the progression of the story or character. This issue focuses on four characters and demonstrates the delicate balance between dialogue and art. In the forest, Hisao and Irina have an angry argument at gunpoint with quite heavy dialogue but the art is passionate and tense. Whilst Akiko and Fortunato have a pseudo first date in the temple, where very few word are uttered but the pencilling conveys the care and warmth of both characters. Joe Eisma’s art is simply breathtaking and wonderfully aesthetic. The characters have simple distinguished facial features and are very expressive. There are ten pages in this book that have a solitary speech bubble or none at all. That is how much faith there is in the art to show and not just describe the events being played out. There is often a lot of running in this book especially around forests but this issue has the full range of artistic empathy with the horrific displays of violence, a heart warming friendship and heated arguments between rivals. Spencer allows Eisma the time and space to truly express with his characters. Alex Sollazzo’s colouring is also important, as the tones are warm when there is firelight but also shaded to show the forest as dark and eerie.
I have been waiting to review Morning Glories for a while now but was waiting for a standout issue. I realised that therein lies the problem with the book. All the issues are great but none of them leave me satisfied enough as they answer one question and ask five more. It is the suspense building that keeps the investment going. At first glimpse you may think this is a cheesecake book focusing on girls in school uniform but as you delve further you see that there are incredibly well formed personas. Given that there are no superpowers to behold and a story essentially consisting of adults and teenagers, it is surprisingly distinctive and coherent. Spencer has developed a cast of mardy teenagers and strict teachers into a wonderfully varied cast, interacting in a plot involving time travel and cults, which makes little sense. The characters are intimately relatable and we become intrigued in their fates. I honestly do not know where the plot is going, but I do hope it all ties in together. You require a fine toothcomb to weed out the subtle clues and subtext that will hone in on the story but to be honest it is easier to enjoy the ride and have faith in Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma.
“Kill me if you must” 9/10