By Zack Quaintance — Morning in America #1, simply put, is a comic about what it feels like to be a teen. It focuses on a group of friends, who are maybe only tenuously interested in spending time with each other. The dialogue in this comic is exceedingly well-written, seeing its characters bickering often throughout, doing so in a way unique to high school, a time when we’re maybe not yet sure what type of person we’d like to be around just yet.
The end result is book with four strong and distinct characters who all feel real, which goes a long way to making the larger plot engrossing. Speaking of the larger plot, there’s also a mystery at work here—it’s 1983 in smalltown Ohio, kids are disappearing, and a new factory has opened up without seeming to provide jobs to anybody. Still, for me the real highlight was the way creators Magdalene Visaggio and Claudia Aguirre gave their young characters so much room to think and brood and breath.
What also added to the authenticity of the story was the way the characters moved throughout the world. Morning in America #1 never fell prey to that common coming-of-age issue wherein the teens are overly precocious, knowing everything or exerting so much control over situations that it starts to take an audience out of the story. Part of why the four characters at this story’s heart feel so real is that they are surrounded by consequential situations that rely (at least in part) on the actions of the adults in their worlds. Parents bicker about jobs, questions at school go answered, and when the protagonist of the story gets in trouble, the intervening mother and officer tasked with handling it seem more exasperated than concerned. It all rang rather true to my own experiences back in high school, feeling both under-respected and under-cared for.
In terms of the artwork, Claudia Aguirre’s lines are detailed and interesting, augmented by an interesting color palette that displays an impressive tonal versatility. There are pastels for sunsets and brighter colors for actions. What I found most interesting, however, was the book’s first page, which was maybe a flash-forward, showing one of our characters (I think) running from a monster as neon colors disrupted drabber tones that had set over the little city. It’s so attention-grabbing it could potentially function on its own as a poster. I really dug it.
Morning in America #1 is, in the end, a patient comic that sparks an interesting mystery, using its excellent character work in the service of a story that feels compelling and real. I’m not sure what it’s larger thematic interests are. There are hints of globalization affecting industrial smalltown America, although that seems at odds with the 1983 time period just a little bit. Basically, we know we have a group of teens who maybe don’t get along all that well and definitely have troubled behavioral records, and we know we have a monster-mystery unfolding (plus maybe aliens?). It’ll be interesting to see how and to what ends this story brings it all together.
Overall: Morning in America #1 is a rare coming-of-age comic that excels at realistic character work. A compelling start to an interesting mystery, this book is definitely one for teen adventure fans to follow. 8.0/10
Morning in America #1
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artist: Claudia Aguirre
Letterer: Zakk Saam
Publisher: Oni Press
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Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase