Morning in America #1
Claudia Aguirre (artist & colorist), Zakk Sam (letterer), Magdalene Visaggio (writer)
March 6, 2018
Morning in America sees Kim & Kim’s Magdalene Visaggio and Claudia Aguirre team up for another story about bad girls, though this one at least starts on Earth. Set in 1983 (a year before Reagan used the title in a campaign commercial), issue #1 introduces us to a quartet of high school juvenile delinquents — the Sick Sisters — and their declining home of Tucker, Ohio.
Nancy Salazar is this issue’s viewpoint character, a high schooler with an unemployed dad, a harried madre, and of course a nose for trouble. She’s crushing on the butch-er Veronica, she’s frenemies with the bitchy Ellen, and she seems a little protective of the youngest Sick Sister, Ashley. The issue paints the girls with broad strokes, Aguirre’s art doing heavy lifting in giving them depth and dimension in their individual style choices. The Sick Sisters are well-designed — their distinct faces each has their own quirks like sharp cheekbones, a strong jawline, a scar, or glasses. The body types are a little less interesting; each girl has their own silhouette, but they’re all slim.
These characters all feel vaguely familiar, and so does the backdrop — ’80s nostalgia is in and it’s hard not to compare this to Paper Girls, which is also set in the ’80s (and Ohio), and also about a group of girls dealing with the unknown. The plot, too, unfurls exactly as you might: girls in town are missing and the police are being told to leave it alone. Nancy wants the Sick Sisters to get involved, but it seems like she’s got a lot on her plate already and this might be just what she needs to distract her from her burgeoning queer feelings, her failing grades, and a tense household. But, then again, it might be up to them to go ahead and save the town!
Since it’s a first issue, the mystery has obviously yet to be revealed; the cover’s skull suggests something paranormal or out of the ordinary going on (unless it’s a fake-out!). This intro left me rather ambivalent — everything was good, but not particularly dynamic enough to stand out. But I really loved Aguirre’s inks and colors here — they’re soft and slightly sepia-toned, giving it a VHS feeling that really nails the mood of ’80s media, hazy with nostalgia. I’m also, unsurprisingly, invested in Nancy and Veronica’s painfully high school flirtations and hope that Veronica has a letter jacket to gently drape across Nancy’s shoulders later in this series.
I’ll admit the last page of this book gave me a good laugh, promising a divergence from similar stories of teens eager to explore mysteries. But the bright cover and the title promise more than this issue delivered me; I went in expecting it to be edgier and more overly political rather than another extremely familiar ’80s adventure. I’m hoping that issue #2 proves me wrong and offers up more intrigue, because I know Visaggio is capable of surprising me and I would love to see this go in a unique direction.