"Morning Glories: #26 begins Season Two of Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma's supernatural suspense series that has invited comparisons to "Lost" in its long-form mysteries and plot twists.
"Morning Glories" #26 is a true second season opener in how it expands the entire mythology of series but builds off existing mysteries in Season One. However, just to be clear, "Morning Glories" #26 is also the kind of season opener that requires comprehensive knowledge of the previous season to grasp and to have any emotional investment in what is going on. Even long-time readers will probably need to reread older issues to piece things together. The central twists in "Morning Glories" #26 are not unlike the Tower scene in "Morning Glories" #22, or the time travel intersections in "Morning Glories" #10 that left readers fascinated but also frustrated. Season Two is not a good jumping-on point in any traditional sense, and indeed, with a long-form mystery like "Morning Glories," the only correct starting point is issue #1.
Spencer's opening scene for "Morning Glories" #26 hinges on a surprise that will leave a completely newbie reader utterly at sea. The opening sequence is deliberately cinematic, as the reader watches a cook plate six scallops and a garnish in a restaurant kitchen. Then the camera follows a server from kitchen to table where an unknown woman waits for her tardy dinner companion. Eisma's use of camera angles plays it so that the revelation of the arriving guest is the first surprise, with the identity of the woman being the real shocker. Immediately afterwards, "Morning Glories Season 2" rolls across a double-page spread like the title sequences of a TV show. All the white space is a nice visual breather, but the timing also feels a little too slick or derivative. As a whole, though, the scene pulls off its intended "oomph" of surprise.
After the dinner concludes, the middle section of "Morning Glories" #26 follows the adventures of Casey Blevins after she is given a mission by Lara Hodge, and the storytelling is truly dense, with a complex timeline that skips back and forth. Eisma's silent, concise storytelling in these five pages is superb. There are surprising revelations for readers that take the time to remember or do their detective work in piecing things together, matching panels and events from previous issues to fragments of Casey's travels.
After this, the timeline winds back into the past, into Casey's first day of high school, before she won acceptance to Morning Glory Academy. It's a nice touch for Spencer to deepen Casey's characterization in this way, but this loop back into the past is also a setup for the final plot twist and last page cliffhanger.
Significantly, "Morning Glories" #26 fails on its promise to be an introductory issue, even though Spencer and Eisma's storytelling is skillful and ambitious as ever. Season Two begins high on excitement but also high on confusion, making for a challenging reader experience in both good and bad ways. It won't win over new or lapsed readers, nor is it the epic tour-de-force that the Season One finale was.
However, it artfully picks up several loose threads from Season One, and Spencer's tone and themes remain consistent in their exploration of faith, trust, leadership and betrayal. For a mere $1.00, "Morning Glories" #26 is a bargain for long-time monthly readers and may also tempt readers who regularly trade-wait.