Comic Genius is a brand new featured series at the Great Stories blog that shall serve to promote what we think are the best stories being told in the graphic novel format. The suggested reading material may represent something quite fresh and new, or it may be a call to re-visit an old and forgotten yet classic book/tale.
I must cop to being a gigantic Marvel Comic fan, and spent many years reading those books under the Marvel flag almost exclusively with forays into some DC Batman titles, as well as the occassional Dark Horse Comics project. I was turned off by McFarlane’s Image Comics in the 90’s from a creative standpoint, though I was very sympathetic to the business reasons for its creation. That being said, Image has really been impressing me of late with some very solid book series.
This month, Great Stories would like to raise your awareness of an awesome series called “Morning Glories” written by Nick Spencer with interior artwork by Joe Eisma and cover art by Rodin Esquejo. Spencer wrote Existence 2.0 for Image Comics, also the flagship for Morning Glories, and it was well-liked enough to be optioned as a movie by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes studio and is currently in development.
Morning Glories was one that I happened upon when walking into a New England Comics store to visit a friend, and the conversation turned to the subject of the incredible TV show, Lost. And with that perfect segue, he handed me a copy of the first trade paperback of the aforementioned title. I opened my wallet and, after reading the first few pages, knew it had been money well spent.
Morning Glories tells the story of a group of very special students recruited from around the world to attend the prestigious Morning Glory Academy. What the students don’t know is that Morning Glory Academy is not at all what it seems, and the students all share something in common that goes beyond the normal. The characters, at first, seem like the typical line-up of high school archetypes. Casey is the intelligent and beautiful blond with perfect parents who has it all going for her. The Indian-American Zoe is the tough as nails, mean, and pretty cheerleader. Hunter is the almost invisible book nerd raised by a single Dad. Ike is the spoiled rich kid with a sordid past. Jun is a principled and serious student from Japan. And Jade is the moody emo-girl, also raised by a single parent.
Although the stereotypes are all typically present, the events that ensue are anything but. The comparisons to Lost, as alluded to in the author’s own description of his book, are well founded and present in the flashback stylization that helps to flesh out the characters in awesome detail. The characters have been written intelligently with actions that are consistent with the individual motivations and character traits born within.
It is quite simply very difficult to keep from being pulled into the writer’s world. And the artwork by Joe Eisma is very good, capturing the essence of the story well within the panels and giving it a very clean look that suits the material well. His characters are drawn expressively, which I appreciate, and lends to more effective storytelling.
I want to say so much more about the book, but to do so would betray the great plot developments that author and artist have in store for the reader. 25 issues into the monthly comic, you can pick up the first 19 issues in trade paperback form in three collections starting with “For a Better Future” (collecting issues 1-6), continuing in “All Will Be Set Free” (collecting the second story arc issues 7-12), and “PE” (collecting issues 13-19). The fourth collection, “Truants” will be released this May.
Spencer has mapped out a complete beginning to end story that runs 100 issues, which is eight years of comic life. If the next six years of story are anything like the first two, we are all in for a treat. Not to mention that you could very well be looking at a perfect candidate for a TV pilot, able to match the success of the last graphic novel to small screen adaptation that has taken the industry by storm. Oh yes, that little show called “The Walking Dead” is exactly what I am referring to.
I sincerely hope you give this book a look and come back to let us know your thoughts! Thanks for taking the time to stop by, and come back again soon for another visit. 🙂
Chris (for the Great Stories team)