Man, they really stuck the landing on this one. It's a solid issue all the way through, showing us the Academy's early days, and the early days of Miss Hodge and Miss Daramount, back when they were the only two students. All of that is interesting and informative, if not entirely unexpected. That Lara would have abilities which her sister lacked didn't surprise me, but the detail about keeping people underground did, as did seeing Nine as a child behaving just like her adult self. However, it is in the moment where Lara murders the girl who's trying to save her that Morning Glories #20 really explodes with greatness.
It's not just the twist or the shock of the attack that makes it so effective, but Joe Eisma's drawing of it. There is a mania in Lara's eyes, most vividly in the panel where her whole mouth is smeared with blood. It's horrible, and it shines such a distorted and frightening light on all the things we've seen Miss Hodge do before. This cold-blooded killer is the person who sent Casey back in time. She offered Zoe a weapon. She stranded Jade and Ike together. Knowing that she may, in fact, be working against them is a discomforting thought, but seeing just how insane and vicious she truly is...that's terrifying.
Eisma is at the top of his game for the whole issue, and so is Nick Spencer. The competitive-yet-unshakable sisterly love he writes between young Lara and Georgina hits all the right notes and rings very true. They may envy one another, but they want the same things and they also love each other, so in the end they work together. And seeing them work together made me happy, even though they seem pretty clearly to be villains in this story. That Spencer could make them so sympathetic is impressive, and that he could make me root for them to get along when it can only mean bad things for our heroes long-term.
I'm waiting for the "first season" of Morning Glories to end before I finally decide if I am going to keep following it. But it needs more issues like this, where we get some concrete information. I realize that Miss Hodge's allegiance could shift again any number of times (as could anyone's) but it is presented here as fact, a piece of dramatic irony to deepen the reader's understanding of what has and will happen. And that's what I've been clamoring for from this title for a while now, so I was pleased to see it finally deliver.