Comics You Should Be Reading: The Umbrella Academy
As before, I’m doing my “Comics You Should Be Reading” segment. This time it’s about “The Umbrella Academy”, a Dark Horse series written by Gerard Way (of My Chemical Romance), and beautifully drawn by Gabriel Ba (Daytripper).
These articles are broken down in a “Who, what, when, where, why, how” manner, where I answer each question according to the series.
- WHO writes/draws it?
- WHAT is it about?
- WHEN was it published?
- WHERE can I find it?
- WHY should I read this?
- HOW much will this cost; how is it collected?
Continue reading to see my breakdown of this series!
The series is written by Gerard Way, better recognized as the singer for My Chemical Romance, and drawn by Gabriel Ba, who has been recently acclaimed for work with Fabio Moon on Daytripper.
The series focuses on a group of seven superpowered individuals who were all raised from birth by a mysterious man, called The Monocle, aka Reginald Hargreeves, who runs an institute called the Umbrella Academy. The Umbrella Academy is dedicated to protect the world as some sort of odd troupe of superheroes.
Through the series we are introduced to the group, shown their powers, their character and shown their relations to each other and the world. They are:
- 00.01 – Spaceboy aka Luther Hargreeves, who has increased strength and resilience, as well as having his head attached to a gorillas body. He enjoys using a spacey-looking laser gun.
- 00.02 – The Kraken aka Diego Hargreeves, who has the power to hold his breath indefinitely, as well as having a missing right eye. He has an affinity for knives.
- 00.03 – The Rumor aka Allison Hargreeves, who has the power to alter reality by lying. She has a cybernetic right hand.
- 00.04 – Seance aka Klaus Hargreeves, who has the power to communicate with the dead, as well as levitation and telekinesis. He has the words “Hello” and “Goodbye” tattooed to the palms of his hands, and he is theorized to have been abusing drugs since he was a teenager. He has admitted to using speed.
- 00.05 – The Boy, who disappeared at the age of 10, and then reappeared 20 years later in his child form. He appears to have the ability to travel through time by his own power.
- 00.06 – The Horror aka Ben Hargreeves, who possesses monsters under his skin from other dimensions. He died before the beginning of the series, but appears in statues and flashbacks.
- 00.07 – The White Violin aka Vanya Hargreeves, who shows no specific powers, but is the most estranged from the group, and has a great affinity for music.
This book is closely reminiscent of Grant Morrison’s run on DOOM PATROL, which took off-the-wall characters with strange powers, and pitted them up against even stranger enemies. The comparison is not made without truth behind it, though, as Way has expressed how big of a fan of Morrison he is, and how he was inspired by his work.
The first book was published in September of 2007, and ran for six issues. The second volume started in November of 2008, and ran for six issues. There are also various online stories that have been published.
The two volumes of the series are available at most stores which carry comics, but as always, I’ll recommend to go to Amazon since they always give a discount, and there’s free shipping on orders more than $25!
Now, I know that at first, when someone sees a comic that is written by someone that’s part of a band, or is an actor, or is someone from another aspect of entertainment, it is a bit off-putting. There’s reasonable worry here. However, don’t let it trip you up this time! The Umbrella Academy is an EXTREMELY well written, and is a fantastic series with original characters and amazing artwork.
Personally, I am a fan of Gerard in all his outings. I think he’s a fantastic writer, and he has such a broad backing in film and literature that really show. Plus, he’s a huge Morrison fan, which is great for me since he is my favorite writer.
I think, though, that when looking at this series, its strongest point is in its characters. Each of the characters present are likable, and very interesting, and Way is able to make them interesting in such limited space: two six-issue mini series. This really is a character driven book, and not a single one falters.
From a drug addled, morbid, necromancer, to a man with a gorilla body, to a time traveling boy who doesn’t age, there is not a dull character in the bunch, and Gerard makes sure you feel that way.
I can’t write this article and neglect the amazing artwork of Gabriel Ba, though. His artwork really adds an extra level of quality to Way’s already spectacular writing. The two work so incredibly well together, and Ba is able to follow Way’s sometimes morbid sense of humor.
If you are a fan of character-driven comics, this is for you. If you are a fan of Grant Morrison style, strange writing, this is for you. If you are a fan of Gabriel Ba’s artwork, this is for you. Even if you aren’t a comic reader, but are just a fan of Gerard Way in My Chemical Romance, you should really check this out. The immense praise it receives from critics is not mistaken; this series is a gem, and one that proves that sometimes a guy from a band can indeed be a fantastic writer. I hate to seem like I only give out the same grade for all these books, but I’m going to give Way and Ba a 4.5/5 for their two volumes of The Umbrella Academy, and hopes for the third to start SOON!
Now, we just have to hope that since MCR has their new album dropping in a week that Gerard will be able to entertain us with a third volume of this amazing series soon.
The series is collected in two paperback volumes right now, each collecting the two six issue volumes.
The Umbrella Academy Volume One: Apocalypse Suite – $17.99
The Umbrella Academy Volume Two: Dallas – $17.99
There are also collectors editions of the first book available, one of which comes with figures of all the main characters.