Morning in America #1
Weird monsters menace a town, and it’s up to a ragtag bunch of teens to take them on in Morning in America #1. It even sounds like the plot of a movie from that time. But instead of plucky gang of young men, we have a plucky gang of young women. I like their style and their attitude.
Tucker, Ohio, 1983, where school-age kids are disappearing, and Nancy Salazar finds out that the police are not investigating. Just what is going on here?
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artist: Claudia Aguirre
Letterer: Zakk Saam
Publisher: Oni Press, Inc.
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: March 6, 2019
Morning in America is a new miniseries that takes place in middle America in 1983. Young people are disappearing, and the only people who seem to care enough to try to do something about it are a small group of girl delinquents.
IT’S LIKE THE ’80s NEVER ENDED
Morning in America #1 has a very movie-like opening, where a girl is running for her life until she is grabbed by some sort of creature. But this is Tucker, Ohio in 1983, a factory town that appears to have seen better days.
In short order, we meet our main characters, the Sick Sisters – Ellen, Nancy, Veronica, and Ashley. With Ellen’s opening discussion, which is reminiscent of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, we also quickly realize this is a teen-rated book. Nancy and Veronica also appear to be a couple, which is cool. And right from the start we see that Ashley, despite being truant and one of the gang, is young and surprisingly innocent, which is rather cute. These young ladies don’t take any guff from anyone. A couple of young guys come past and make a few sexually suggestive comments. Nancy throws a bottle at them, and the guys respond with the classic, “We were just being nice!” and why can’t they take a compliment. Anyway, we learn that the girls can stand up for themselves and each other.
From Nancy’s home life, we learn that times are tough in Tucker. Her father can’t find a job – no union shops are hiring, not even the new factory. So Nancy is not in the best mood when she goes to school, where there’s an assembly in the gym to talk about the disappearances of two students in the past week, and how the police are partnering with the school for safety. Ashley has one of her moments – she’s been reading a book about something similar, but it involved aliens and an enormous conspiracy. She also thinks the new factory would be a perfect cover for the aliens. Oh, Ashley! (She’s so cute.)
Later, between classes, a guy comes up to ask Nancy if she’s still selling. Cigarettes, that is. She gives him a place to meet her after school. But he doesn’t just want the cigarettes. His sister disappeared last week, and the police haven’t done anything. More than that, she didn’t just disappear or run off – he was with her, and saw something take her. He wants the Sick Sisters to look into it. He grabs her as he’s insisting, and she fights back, and gets picked up by the cops.
As her mother fills out paperwork, she stumbles upon a conversation where Ben is talking to his sergeant about the disappearances. He’s concerned because they haven’t done any looking into any of them, and he is told to drop it. As soon as she gets home, Nancy grabs her bike and meets the rest of the girls – she thinks they need to do something about the kids disappearing.
It’s interesting that the 1980’s are a popular time to revisit nowadays. I like that the girls’ crimes are just minor delinquency at this time – selling cigarettes, truancy, shoplifting. I like that two of them are lesbian and Nancy is Hispanic. I like that they are independent and stand up for themselves. The way they find out the police aren’t doing anything is a little contrived, but not unduly so. Plainly the new factory is important. It does play off familiar tropes and story beats, but it may have some promise. And there is something kind of engaging about the Sick Sisters.
A FLASHBACK IN STYLE
Care has been taken with the art in Morning in America #1 to make it feel like the early 1980’s. Legwarmers, y’all! Not to mention kind of big, poofy hair. Not only are the main characters distinct, but some fun was had with the secondary characters as well. The school has a wide variety of kids and they don’t all look the same. The coloring has a light touch, almost like watercolor, but I like the way it looks overall.
I like the portrayal of Tucker as well. In a very few shots, we can see that this is a depressed town, one that is not thriving. Everything looks rather stark and spare. Another thing about the 1980’s – it was lower tech than today. There are monsters in this story – if it were set today, everyone would have phones and could just video them. In 1983, not so much.
BOTTOM LINE: WEIRD THINGS HAPPEN IN THE 1980S
Weird monsters menace a town, and it’s up to a ragtag bunch of teens to take them on in Morning in America #1. It even sounds like the plot of a movie from that time. But instead of a plucky gang of young men, we have a plucky gang of young women. I like their style and attitude.