Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Morning Glories Volume One (2011)

Brian K. Vaughn returns to Runaways! Except he's working under the pen name of "Nick Spencer," and he stole his premise back from Marvel to run at Image, and he couldn't afford as good of an artist.

Morning Glories is about a group of sixteen-year-olds whom the creators clearly want you to want to fuck, between the Justin Bieber MK I-II hair styles and all the gym fit chicks wearing schoolgirl short skirts (no fatty-boom-batty-Girties or pedobait Mollys here.) Instead of being the children of a local demon-worshiping super-villain team, our young protagonists are brought together by a prestigious prep school with a demon-worshiping faculty. They are strategically multicultural and unencumbered by unattractive characters that do not fit modern high school archetypes. Think I Know What You Did At Degrassi High Last Summer. There are... shhhh... seeecrets aplenty, which I'm sure will play out over multiple volumes of the projected hundred issue series.

I tend not to want to give away too much of the initial story. The characters are paper thin, so the whole of the enjoyment of the book is in seeing the plot unfold. There's plenty of scheming that is pretty smart in its execution, and tons of foreshadowing to the scope and depth of a grand conspiracy. Spencer makes some of the more blatant exposition, tired cliché, and forced character moments palatable through high grade snark that helps one to embrace the less savory pieces on the chessboard.

The art by Joe Eisma meets my minimum expectations for this type of story. It isn't bad enough to put me off the book, and is serviceable in presenting the story. It is also chronically rushed, looking like reasonably tight layouts, or the story page equivalent of a competent convention sketch. The artist is unfortunately terrible at depicting acts of violence, looking like doodles of the killing of a math teacher from a bored high school student's notebook. More often than not, it is up to colorist Alex Sollazzo to cover Eisma's ass. The style of the interiors does manages to just barely evoke the pretty covers of Rodin Esquejo, which are not reprinted in this trade paperback. How's that for a "Fuck you Charlie-- buy the separate hardcover cover collection in two years?!" Esquejo is to Jo Chen as Eisma is to the various artists on Runaways and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with the obvious downgrade in franchises noted.

You might think I'm some huge Brian K. Vaughn fan, but the truth is I only read his books when I get them for free, and only halfway liked the first few Runaways digests. It's just that the parallels are easy to harp on, but I actually think Morning Glories has the stronger and more versatile story engine to run on. Suffice to say, while a lot of this book will be very familiar to genre fans, it steals from high calbre sources, and presents the elements in a reasonable quality fashion. The first collection is a satisfying read unto itself, and at the low introductory price of ten bucks, worth your while to sample.

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