The Umbrella Academy, vol. 1: Apocalypse Suite

Writer(s): Gerard Way
Artist(s): Gabriel Bá
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
ISBN: 978-1593079789
Price: $17.95
Page count: 192
Year Released: 2008
Status: in print
Original Source: The Umbrella Academy 1-6
Other Collected Edition(s): n/a
Genres: adventure; coming of age; fantasy; humor; science fiction; superheroes
Recommended for Fans Of:
Possible Objectionable Material: a few instances of graphic violence
If You Like This Book, Try: Hellboy; Alan Moore's various America's Best Comics series
Also in This Series: n/a

Plot Summary
The Umbrella Academy is the story of seven extraordinary individuals who were born under extremely mysterious circumstances and adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreeves, a world-renowned scientist (and space alien). Raised by the cold, scientifically minded Hargreeves explicitly to excel as a superpowered team known as the Umbrella Academy, the children thrive in their fight against evil but suffer from severe emotional neglect. Thirty years later, meeting together for the first time in a decade upon the death of Hargreeves (whom they were never allowed to call "father"), their adult selves are clearly dysfunctional. Spaceboy, whose head Hargreeves grafted onto a gorilla's body after a nearly fatal mission to Mars, wants desperately to be a hero but has no one to save. The Kraken, a brooding, stubble-faced loner, continues to fight crime because it's the only thing he knows how to do. The Rumor, a talented "prevaricator," just wants everyone to get along. The Sèance, who can speak to the dead, has become a morbid, somewhat cruel individual. Number 5, a time-traveler who disappeared at the age of 10, has now returned to warn his adopted siblings that the end of the world is imminent. And finally there's Vanya, the one who never developed any special powers--beyond her knack for playing the violin moderately well. It is in this state that the Umbrella Academy must reunite to deal with the catastrophic event Number 5 has witnessed in the future. Unfortunately, it seems that one of their own may be the cause.

My Own 2 Cents
The Umbrella Academy is an entertaining action-adventure story. It's not spectacular but certainly above average, particularly for a superhero-based comic book. It's a humorous story, but darkly so; I imagine the fans of Way's punk- and goth-tinged My Chemical Romance will love this book as much as they love the band. But that's not to say this book is for Way's groupies alone. Anyone with an interest in steampunk or the melancholia of gothic fantasy will find something to love here. My principal criticism is that, aside from their dysfunctionality, we don't get to know the main characters all that well. Nonetheless, Way has seeded the story with plenty of tantalizing hints regarding the Umbrella Academy members' histories, which no doubt foreshadow future planned volumes. Regarding the art, Gabriel Bá's work is beautiful, and reminiscent of Mike Mignola's (of Hellboy fame).