The Umbrella Academy, Vol. 1, by Gerard Way & Gabriel Ba (2008) E

Date read: 3.17.11
Book from: Library
Reviewer: Emera

book umbrella

From the back cover:

In an inexplicable worldwide event, forty-seven extraordinary children were spontaneously born by women who had previously shown no signs of pregnancy. Millionaire inventor Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven of the children; when asked why, his only explanation was, ‘To save the world.’ These seven children form The Umbrella Academy, a dysfunctional family of superheroes with bizarre powers. Their first adventure at the age of ten pits them against an erratic and deadly Eiffel Tower… Nearly a decade later, the team disbands, but when Hargreeves unexpectedly dies, these disgruntled siblings reunite just in time to save the world once again.”

The Umbrella Academy is clearly an enormous excuse for Gerard Way to make moody, tentacular love to all the tropes of the superhero comic. Father-figure issues, intra-team rivalries and romantic tensions PLUS frolicsomely deranged villains and a tortured, vengeful supervillainess PLUS nonstop, glibly surreal* storytelling = one gloriously dark, weird, and addictive series. I can’t speak to there being much real substance under the surface – other than Way’s manifest passion for superheroes and their particular brand of wounded humanity – but it’s a terribly stylish and entertaining comic, with occasional moments of real sweetness and charm.

Art highlights: Dave Stewart’s yummy colors – heavy on dark, desaturated oranges and purples. And I love the weight of Gabriel Ba’s figures, and their elastic, elongated torsos – makes for interesting stances and gestures. Also, I could stare at the cover forever. Hi, Vanya. What shapely F-holes you have.

(I know. I’m sorry.)

I devoured the first volume in one sitting, and am jonesing to get my hands on the second. Also, this may well be my favorite single line of comic-book dialogue: “And just as I suspected – ZOMBIE-ROBOT GUSTAVE EIFFEL!”

* The kids’ surrogate mother is an animate anatomical model. What’s not to love?

Go to:
Gerard Way: bio and works reviewed
The Umbrella Academy, Vol. 2, by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá (2009): review by Emera

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  1. kakaner’s avatar

    dude i’m SO excited that you seemed to have enjoyed it as much and in the same way I did… pretty impressive right? I’m just blown away by the character design.. by far my favorite part.

    And yes. I can not take my eyes off those f holes either.

    I will help you get your hands on the second one =D

    Reply

    1. Emera’s avatar

      I’m just blown away by the character design…
      I’m SO SAD the octopus dude (The Horror?) got offed already. For some reason I found him particularly adorable. It does majorly bother me that Séance looks like he’s wearing a diaper though.

      those f holes
      Well CLEARLY, as a violinist you’d have a particularly appreciative eye for the finer points of f-holes…

      I wish Pandemonium had a better comics selection – otherwise I’d have snatched it up there as soon as I’d finished the first vol!

      Reply

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