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

The Story: A scientist on the run is given an offer she can’t refuse: pardon for the crimes of her past in exchange for working on that mysterious metal object we’ve been seeing around the Academy.

What’s Good: It’s a testament to Nick Spencer’s abilities as a writer that he can write an issue starring entirely new characters in a storyline that’s just barely comprehensible, more mysteries and shadows than anything else, and still make it an engaging read.  On a basic, technical level, Spencer’s writing is impressive.  His characters’ emotions feel real and sincere, quickly making them sympathetic, or at least understandable.  More than that though is the tone of his dialogue; throughout this issue of Morning Glories, Spencer’s dialogue just feels smart.  It’s something that readers following his THUNDER Agents series over at DC will be familiar with.  The writing is slick, fast, and intelligent and the characters, and hence the plot, come across accordingly.  It’s clear that Spencer does the conspiratorial very, very well.

It’s really based on these technical strengths alone that this issue is a success.  The new protagonist, Julie Hayes, that we meet for the very first time quickly, becomes an interesting character that you’ll want to see more of.  Despite her crimes, it’s easy to support her.  It also helps that Spencer buoys this issue with twists and turns aplenty, some of which give rise to effective, emotional writing that could so easily feel contrived and yet somehow completely dodges that bullet.  Though he teases it throughout the issue, the final page will make you gasp; you’ll probably have seen it coming, but the very idea is so ludicrous, that you can’t really believe that that’s what Spencer’s up to until you actually see it in that issue-ending splash.

I have also come to fully accept Joe Eisma’s art.  Once the weakest link in Morning Glories, Eisma’s artwork has polished up quite a bit since that first issue and now compliments the series quite well.

What’s Not So Good: All that stuff I mentioned in the first paragraph, really.

It’s an issue that focuses on brand new characters, which may be a bit of a downer given how utterly fantastic last issue was for the character development of the kids.

More than though, it’s the fact that when you boil the issue down, we’re left with far more questions than answers.  In fact, I’m not sure if there are any answers to be had at all.  While that last page is shocking, it also makes little sense at this point.  The issue is only further hampered by the fact that the plot hinges upon that mysterious, giant spinning metal thing we’ve seen at the Academy before.  However, we still have no idea what it is or what it does, aside from the fact that it’s really powerful and really important.  The end result is that it comes across as little more than a MacGuffin.

Conclusion: For a seeming filler issue between major story-arcs, this is pretty good actually.  Spencer and Eisma’s talents carry an issue and make what could have been disastrous into something pretty enjoyable.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans