by Nick Spencer (writer), Joe Eisma (art), Alex Sollazzo (colors), and Johnny Lowe (letters)

The Story: We meet six sixteen year olds as they arrive at the mysterious Morning Glory Academy and get to know one another.

What’s Good: While it may not be an outright explosion of a first issue, make no mistake: Morning Glories’ first issue is a rousing success.  The key reason for this is that it manages to ask a great deal of questions, wrapping itself in a cloak of mystery and outright weirdness.  Yet, unlike a great number of first issues that try to do this, it completely avoids feeling confusing or incomprehensible.  It manages to intrigue rather than befuddle, and given just how many questions it poses and how many bizarre occurrences transpire, that really is a major feat that Nick Spencer cannot be commended enough for.

The clearly defined cast is one of the major means through which Spencer accomplishes it.  The six students provide a solid core amidst all the strangeness, anchoring the reader’s experience.  Despite each following a high school stereotype, all of these characters are likable, well-realized, and incredibly distinct from one another.  Each has his or her own voice and I think that readers will all have different favorites; despite their differences, there’s a sense of equality among the six in that each of them feels equally defined, lively, and special.

Furthermore, the fact that each character gets his or her start from a high school stereotype also means that the six are already looking like a well-oiled machine in how they all fit together.  There’s perfect synergy and chemistry between them all.  When they interact with each other, it’s fun and it’s genuine and it’s already clear that each one of them will have a fun and unique dynamic with each of his or her classmates.  The characters are likable enough on their own, but it goes up threefold when they come together.

While the characters serve to anchor Spencer’s book, so does the Academy itself, providing a single, contained atmosphere for all the weirdness.  The end result is a greater feeling of control, making the book feel more accessible, while also lending Spencer’s world a kind of conspiratorial claustrophobia.

I suppose the best thing I can say about Spencer’s book is that so much is that so many questions and mysteries are laid out this month and there’s so much palpable menace that I’m left wanting more very, very badly.  And that’s what a first issue should do, isn’t it?

What’s Not So Good: Joe Eisma’s art is something of a disappointment.  While it’s not terrible, it just doesn’t feel up to the standard set by Spencer’s script.

On the one hand, I want to like it.  I like its indie style, with its harder angles and thick inks.  Alex Sollazzo’s colors also lend the book a bright, youthful tone that does its best to disguise Eisma’s weaknesses.  I can tell Eisma’s loving his job and his work fits the book very well, but the problem is that he strikes me as an artist who is still growing.  There’s a disappointing lack of polish to his work and a lack of detail as well.  Things feel quicker, and sometimes scratchier, than they should and things often get hard-going whenever Eisma has to draw a character’s face carrying a strong emotion.

It’s a weird situation, honestly.  I like Eisma’s look and I like what he’s going for.  I like the overall feel of the work, but the technical execution feels somewhat lacking.

Conclusion: After just one issue, I’m addicted.

Grade: B+

-Alex Evans

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