By: Nick Spencer (writer), Joe Eisma (art), Alex Solazzo (colors), Johnny Lowe (letters) & Jade Dodge (editor)
The Story: The new arrival, Miss. Hodge, is making things happen at the Morning Glories Academy? Is she a good guy or what?
1. Artist Joe Eisma is really good at making his character “act”. If you doubt this, go take a look at his original art at The Interior Pages. Here you can see his art without any lettering and in most panels, you can get a rough idea of what is going on or at least the emotions of the characters at the time. This is a tricky thing to do. For one thing, Eisma first has to be aware enough of human body language and facial expressions to know what cues he can give to express “surprise” or “anger”. Then he has to actually be able to draw a face and body that convey that emotion. It’s impressive stuff that adds a lot to Morning Glories.
2. Miss Hodge is stirring the drink. This is a great new character. Since being introduced in issue #12, she has been a real force of constructive chaos for the reader. Granted, there are still lots of unresolved questions about this series, but Hodge makes us feel like we’re headed in a positive direction. With just the kids as protagonists, it was harder to be so optimistic because he kids were so at the mercy of the teachers and staff of MGA that it was hard to fathom they would figure this stuff out on their own. Now we have Lodge who is able to get things done and seems to be slightly on the kids’ side. This is really propelling the narrative forward.
3. The pacing of the series has improved. Or at least, the reader’s perception of the pacing has improved. There was a time when this series seemed to be spinning its wheels and just flinging out mysteries but never giving us any answers (kinda like Lost, Season 3). Part of it is the addition of Lodge and the pattern of having a cool reveal towards the end of the last two issues, but some of it might just be the readers getting acclimated to the pacing of the story. This is a problem for all ongoing, self-contained series. When we watch a movie, we know the running time and we can look at our watch. If there is an hour left in the movie, the climax is NOT about to happen, but when there are only 20 minutes left, it’s time to hold onto your seat. With an ongoing comic, we don’t have that and start to wonder if this is going to be a ~30 issue series (Promethea, Planetary) and ~60 issue series (Y the Last Man, Scalped, Transmetropolitan) or 100+ issues (100 Bullets, Fables, The Walking Dead). It makes a difference because we can’t tell if these reveals are leading to a climax or not. By now, it’s pretty clear that this is not a 30 issue series; it will be longer. So, now is time to just kick back and enjoy the ride, knowing that the story will be in “cruise” mode for a couple years.
4. A Team Rundown on the inside front cover! Maybe I’m getting old, but as time passes, I have a harder time remembering the names of characters in comics. So, it is much appreciated that we get a team rundown to help us keep track of the action. Now, it would help if they let Eisma draw the characters for the run down, but it still helps a lot to be able to easily say, “Who’s the redhead? Oh yeah, that’s Jade!” Plus, if comics include rundowns then writers don’t have to use the characters’ names in dialog all the time (“Hey Jade! Do you want to get ice cream, Jade” “Yes, Hunter, I would love to get some ice cream.”) since we know they hate doing that.
5. It could be we’re getting some main characters. It isn’t that MG has an impossibly large cast: 6 kids, plus a few teachers who matter. The trouble was that the kids all seemed equally important and that made it hard for the reader to identify with any of them strongly. The last few issues, it seems like we’re headed towards Casey and Hunter being the “main” characters with the other kids in more supporting roles. That’s fine with me. Ike and Zoe are fun to watch, but too unlikeable to really center a story around. And Jun and Jade are just not quite as interesting so they can be supporting characters. Keep it the Casey and Hunter show and I’ll be happy.
Conclusion: This series is really finding it’s footing after a small rough patch and the story is humming along nicely. If you drifted away, it’s time to come back because this is a very well written and drawn series.
[Note: Obviously, a bit of a new format on this review. Like it? Hate it? Comments below, please...]
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