Title: The Umbrella Academy.
Story-arc: The Apocalypse Suite.
Writer(s): Gerard Way.
Illustrator(s): Gabriel Bá.
Colourist(s): Dave Stewart.
Letterer(s): Nate Piekos of Blambot.
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics.
Release Date: July 22nd 2008.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
It is often a sign of disappointment when the creator wasn’t exactly a writer to begin with as their expertise often shows in the quality of their work. However, some people have a hidden talent that allows them to venture in territories you just don’t expect them to. The lead vocalist and co-founder of the rock band My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way, for example, had a secret facet to him that allowed his creativity to proliferate outside of the music industry. While he never fully embraced his artistic abilities, his mind had an idea that could only be translated into one medium, that is comic books. Founded in surrealism and paranormality, the story he offers fans remains grounded in the superhero tropes as the heroes show their ludicrous and out of the ordinary personalities and superpowers.
What is The Umbrella Academy: The Apocalypse Suite about? Winner of the 2008 Eisner Award for Best Limited Series, this six-part story introduces us to seven adopted children of millionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves from the Umbrella Academy. Initially, born in an inexplicable worldwide event where women who showed no signs of pregnancy gave birth to a total of forty-seven extraordinary children, these disgruntled siblings form a dysfunctional family who was assembled for one simple reason: to save the world. While their first mission at the age of ten is to go up against one of the oddest creatures at the heart of Paris, they find themselves separating themselves from one another until, a couple of years later, the death of Hargreeves brings them back together to save the world again.
Rooted in ideas that demand a lot of your imagination, the story finds solace in its extremes, whether it is the occasional violence or the circumstances that touch the heroes of this story. The premise is exciting and the story keeps you hooked, but it rarely ever takes the time to fully develop the characters or the world, with every event being thrown at the reader one after the other with nothing to watch evolve properly. It’s the fact that the story reads easily and manages to connect one piece to the other that makes it understandable and easy to follow. Otherwise, the story struggles to offer the readers anything to hold onto as they are forced to simply jump into a pit of ideas and pray that something will catch them at some point during the fall.
It should hence be noted that Gerard Way’s series isn’t meant to be perfect in every department, especially with the first volume. In fact, The Apocalypse Suite felt a lot like an introduction to his story-telling style, a taste of what exactly he’s prepared to gift us. This observation of mine also leads me to the artwork style that isn’t exactly easy to digest either with its blocky visuals and flashy colours that quickly bring the readers to associate it to this comic book series. There’s a particular approach to the art that either draws you in or kicks you out but nevertheless succeeds in being original in one way or another. This first volume thus presents the series’ identity and allows the reader to decide if they are ready to give it a shot or not.
The Umbrella Academy: The Apocalypse Suite is a promising exploration of dysfunctional families and superhero tropes with stylish artwork that will either impress or leave you unaffected.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!
Netflix acquired the rights to launch a live-action TV series adaptation of this original comic book series! Have you seen season 1 yet?