Comics You Should Read: The Umbrella Academy
By Jonathan Balofsky On 5 Dec, 2017 At 05:12 PM | Categorized As Comics You Should Read, Editorials, Featured, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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We often see celebrities try their hand at writing comics and the result is not often good, unless its just them co-writing with an established writer. Umbrella Academy is different however, as Gerard Way, the frontman for the band My Chemical Romance, had been writing for years and his debut in comics happened before Umbrella Academy. He also had experience with working in TV writing, so this was definitely not a comic written by someone who didn’t know what they were doing.

 

The Umbrella Academy takes inspiration from comics such as Grant Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol, but takes things in directions not yet explored. We begin with the finishing blow in a cosmic boxing match, when at the same time 43  infants are inexplicably born to random, unconnected women who hadn’t shown any sign of being pregnant before. Seven of the children were adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreeves alias The Monocle, a space alien posing as an adventurer and entrepreneur. They are to be trained to fight an unspecified future threat as The Umbrella Academy.  But fast forward to adulthood and the team has drifted apart, with one of their number dead, one having gone missing many years before and so on. But with the death of Sir Reginald, the team is called back together, and even the missing No. 5 has returned, having time travelled from the future, but is still a child for some strange reason.

The Hargreeves family is a truly dysfunctional superhero family that cannot get along without going at each other. The various members such as Kraken and Spaceboy soon clash over unresolved tensions but it is not long before the threat that the Monocle predicted starts manifesting itself. What follows is a journey through identity and family, as unresolved feelings are addressed such as feelings of parental abandonment, love and resentment. This is definitely not a typical comic, and the art by Brazilian born Gabriel Ba is truly amazing and I can not imagine anyone else having done the artwork.

Umbrella Academy is definitely offbeat, but in a good way. This is a comic that merges writing and art in an intricate way, and Volume 2: Dallas only upped the ante. We see the fallout from the previous volume, and what changes the characters have gone through. We see more of the alternate history that Umbrella Academy is set in, including that JFK never was assassinated, and the dangerous fallout that leads to. More world-building is done, including of the backstory of Number 5, which was perhaps the biggest lingering question from Volume one: Apocalypse Suite.

To say that the series gets weirder is an understatement, and yet nothing seems out of place or awkwardly done. This is a testament to the skill of Way and Ba that the absurd world that they created feels like it actually makes sense. Dallas sets up more plot threads that will no doubt be explored in future volumes, such as a possible new enemy, and the status of the team.  The characters grow, but not necessarily in a healthy way, which is realistic. And given that this volume has completely insane time travelling assassins wearing oversized cartoon animal heads, that is saying something.

I cannot recommend this comic enough. It is simply one of the best comic works that Dark Horse Comics has ever published!

 

 

 

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