Morning in America #1 // Review
The 1980s have been fertile ground in pop culture recently. From television programs like Stranger Things and The Americans to comics like Paper Girls, the decade of Ronald Reagan and MTV have been ever-present. The first issue of Oni Press’ Morning in America continues that trend, with a cover that recalls 1980s movie classic They Live! And a small-town America in 1983 setting.
The book opens with the abduction of a child by a mysterious winged creature, but the rest of the story avoids the sci-fi/horror tone, instead of taking its time to introduce the reader to the Sick Sisters--Ellen, Nancy, Veronica, and Ashley, high school outcasts. Most of the book focuses on tough-girl Nancy, an out lesbian whose tough-kid veneer hides an uncertain tenderness. Soon, Nancy becomes embroiled in the mystery of the kid from the beginning, one of several missing children, and is determined to bring the rest of the Sick Sisters along with her.
Magdalene Visaggio, the writer of Kim & Kim and Eternity Girl, excels here in making all of these characters, the Sick Sisters and the rest of the people around them, feel like distinct and well-rounded individuals. The characters banter and bicker, and have clear desires and needs, and the world she’s building here feels like something out of a film Steven Spielberg might have produced in the early eighties.
Artist Claudia Aguirre helps with distinct character design and a clean, cartoony style. The panel layout and storytelling are simple and effective, and the colors--bright pastels and neons, primarily--make this look different than many other books on the stands. Letterer Zakk Saam’s work is compelling and understated.
This is a substantial first issue, setting the table for an exciting mystery and a detailed character study. This book is excellent for fans of Stranger Things and Paper Girls, though whether it continues to follow in those other stories’ footsteps or steps out on its own to do something new and unique remains to be seen.