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"Bad Kids Go To Hell" is basically Breakfast Club and Scream mixed with a twist of supernatural. Five high school students at a private school are serving out a Saturday detention when they begin dying one by one, leaving the only kid that isn't super rich alive to figure out the mystery happening at the school and the Native American burial site it sits upon.
Morning Glories is about six students that all share the same birthday – May 4 – that are accepted into a prestigious prep school. On the first day they are drugged and brought to the school. Then their parents are told not to acknowledge their existence, thus cutting them off from the outside world all to see if they're the "ones". One of the students has her family killed since they wouldn't play along; another is captured by the school nurse because she tries to kill herself and third runs into his brother/clone while trying to escape.
The only real similarity is that it's a bunch of high school students trapped in their school, but if you read both back to back you might not be able to shake off the familiarities of the two series. Where it becomes most noticeable is in the second issue, when all of the students wind up in detention... on their first day. Granted that's where the similarities stop, but there's enough to make a case if you're looking for one.
Now the new question is, "Is Morning Glories good?" And that's where I get stuck every time. There's just something about the series that has me proceeding with caution. Maybe it's the hype, or all of the sold out issues, whatever it is I haven't bought in 100% yet. (I managed to get all first prints in case anyone wondered how may journey ended)
The group of kids consists of three boys and three girls, all with above average intelligence. They have witty dialog, but act and speak like an adult that is very experienced in the world. Nick Spencer tries to avoid high school clichés by pointing them out, but this is more of a smoke and mirrors effect as he then uses the cliché he's just pointed out. In one scene two of the main characters bump heads as they pick up their spilt papers. The girl – Casey – keeps her eyes closed, pointing out that they just shared a romantic comedy moment in which they make eye contact and fall in love. Well Casey keeps her eyes closed and walks away never seeing the boy she's bumped into, while the boy – Hunter – gushes that he's in love.
What I have enjoyed is that the characters are not all smitten with each other. They haven't really been forced together and when they do come together it's only half of the group. It's enjoyable reading their conflicting personalities and wondering which will emerge as the winner.
It's Not The Art
I doubt that you could find one person that reads comics to say that the art is bad. Granted the cover art is a huge part of the sales, but the interior art is beautiful as well. The art is so good that I wonder if that's the reason it's making huge sales? Just look at the cover for issue seven, tell me that wouldn't sell out in your comic shop? I think the fact that I enjoy the art so much is a reason I'm withholding judgment on the series. I don't want to take the bait and end up with an art book with a horrible story.
Hype! Hype! Hype!
Image did a great job of promoting this book and keeping it in the public's eye. Press Releases came almost bi-weekly about the books success, even though it didn't manage to crack the Diamond top 100 list of November. Still, sales must be good for them to continue to talk about and to do a price drop on the series. The hype has also increased the demand for a first print of the first issue. The cheapest you can find the book on eBay is 8-9 bucks to begin with, but you can count on it selling for a lot more when the bidding ends.
I Can't Tell... Do You Like It or Hate It?
That's probably what most people are thinking by now. Truthfully... I liked it. I didn't love it, but the book has immense potentially and that makes me want to keep reading. It could very easily become a must read, top of the pile, sitting in the parking lot type of comic. Where you're so excited to read it each month you don't bother saving it for last. It just depends on Nick Spencer.
Spencer needs to have an end game. It's fine to introduce layers and layers of mystery for the reader and characters to solve, but you better take a page out of Lost and explain a few. Otherwise you risk becoming stale and predictable. Let's hope he's not a Twin Peak's fan and just making it up as he goes along each month.
I'm still on the fence about this series and as far as a review goes I would give it an 8 or a 9 (due to the art), but I'm not going to review it. It's just something you need to read for yourself. Regardless of where Morning Glories goes one thing is for sure: The creators are in, Joe Eisma – the penciler – could easily go to another company and land a job on a top tier book and cover artist Rodin Esquejo will definitely be doing covers for a long, long time. Spencer on the other hand has already started down the path to stardom with an ongoing series at DC – Thunder Agents – a backup story in Action Comics starring Jimmy Olsen and an upcoming project with Image's own Robert Kirkman.I highly suggest that you pick up the trade for "Bad Kids Go To Hell" if you're interested in this series. It may swing your opinion though so be careful. Look for future reviews of the series and maybe Image will actually send them to us instead of a 10 page preview that can be found anywhere online, so that we can continue weighing in on Morning Glories.