Comic Judgment: Indie Edition

I read a bunch of comics this week, but I’m skipping the capes and cowls to focus on comely upstarts Mystery Society and Morning Glories.

Mystery Society #3 (of 5)
Writer:  Steve Niles
Artist: Fiona Staples
Letters: Chris Mowry
I slept on this title for a while, and frankly, it initially struck me as a little too precious: smoking hot, wealthy, urbane couple investigates shady government goings-on and conspiracy theories along with an unusual cast of characters. I’m glad I got past that nagging first impression. Steve Niles infuses Mystery Society with fun, wit and sex appeal, and Fiona Staples can draw her ass off. Her illustrations are elegant, and they really bring the characters to life.

And what characters! Mystery Society founders Nick and Anastasia are almost unbearably chic and rich, and they flirt constantly with one another (“I plan on molesting you later,” Anastasia tells Nick while he dodges bullets and villains. But their cheekiness and desire to do something meaningful with their money (They were just another broke pair of lovebirds once) won me over. Along the way, they recruit an undead Goth chick and a tubby robot housing Jules Verne’s brain. Robot Jules Verne cracks me up, whether he’s trying to settle his awkward body into an armchair or handing someone a business card while saying, “If you think of anything else, please call this number. It’s a direct line to my brain.” The most captivating characters are Sally and Nina, gifted, African-American twin girls whom the government experimented on and placed in some kind of age-suspension chamber in the 1950s. Did I mention that they’re all looking for Edgar Allen Poe’s skull?

That’s a lot of concept to pack into five issues, and it sets expectations high for a big payoff. For the moment, though, I’m enjoying this breezy, short-term relationship.

Morning Glories #2
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artists: Joe Eisma and Alex Solazzo
Cover: Rodin Esquejo
Letters: Johnny Lowe
At a time when everyone’s talking about the demise of the comics publishing industry, it’s heartening to see an indie book flying off the shelves. This level of hype always makes me suspicious, but I gotta say that I am digging the hell out of Morning Glories.

Put a bunch of teen archetypes (brain, geek, douche, stoic, meanie) in a freaky private school, and you’re either going to get something compelling or something grating. Morning Glories is in the first camp, and the second issue rachets up the shock factor as some of the characters learn just how fucked up Morning Glory Academy is. A traumatized student is tased, repeatedly. A loony kid who tries to stab her roommate — in her sleep — is patted on her head and sent on her way. Want to leave campus? Good luck with that. This comic struck me as very similar in theme to Paul Dini’s new Cartoon Network series “Tower Prep,” which debuts next month, but I’m sure the differences will be apparent, especially in such different formats.

Nick Spencer provides some suspenseful story construction, and he certainly has a way with dialogue. (Wait; doesn’t Brian Michael Bendis get shit for giving teen characters precisely this kind of sharp, sitcom banter? I digress.) Joe Eisma’s interior pencils have a fresh, abstract quality, and Rodin Esquejo’s cover art is downright drool-worthy.

You can practically hear the Arcade Fire/Death Cab for Cutie soundtrack as you read Morning Glories, because I bet you a grande, overpriced beverage that it’s coming to a screen near you.

4 thoughts on “Comic Judgment: Indie Edition

  1. Now I need to go pick up Mystery Society! I’ve already been getting Morning Glories, and I am digging it as well.

    I think the ‘demise of the comic publishing industry’ is really talk of the stagnation of the big two. More and more I am finding GREAT stories from other publishers (or Vertigo). The books by the big 2 I am still digging are not the books that the mainstream know or care about (but should). Secret Six, BoP, Jonah Hex, X-Factor. All the rest of my box are coming from the outside. And frankly, I am more and more stoked about comics everyday!

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  2. There is some great stuff being done outside of the Big Two. I wonder if it’s because the indies aren’t stuck with legacy characters, so they have much more freedom. I’m looking forward to discovering more titles like these, because there’s only so much repetition a geek can take!

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  3. I think it is because of the freedom. No canon to worry about. Can kill off a character anytime they want. Can END it when they want (such a Chew supposedly have, what, 60 issues?).

    Even the best ideas need a end.

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  4. Pingback: Just Go Buy Saga #1 Already |

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