The Umbrella Academy is an American superhero streaming television series based on the comic book series of the same name written by Gerard Way, illustrated by Gabriel Bá, and published by Dark Horse Comics. Created for Netflix by Steve Blackman and developed by Jeremy Slater, it revolves around a dysfunctional family of adopted sibling superheroes who reunite to solve the mystery of their father’s death and the threat of an imminent apocalypse.
I must confess that I have never quite been a fan of Gerard Way’s deconstructive superhero comic, The Umbrella Academy. Way, of course, is the frontman of emo band, My Chemical Romance, and a huge fan of Grant Morrison.
The Umbrella Academy is at its core a deconstructive of superhero comic tropes – not in the Grant Morrison style, as he would like to think – but rather in the manner pioneered by Alan Moore, in comics like Marvelman, Swamp Thing and Watchmen.
The obvious source material is the X-Men. Young mutants taken in by a professor who trains them them in the ways of their powers. One of their own turns evil and threatens to bring upon an apocalypse. Another travels back from the future to warn of impending doom.
Yes indeed. All the above tropes are evident in The Umbrella Academy. So it is a little hard to take Way and his creation seriously. It’s all by the numbers really. The story revolves our group of superheroes – now grown up and disbanded – reuniting after their adoptive father, who trained them to save the world, dies. When they do, they need to work together to do exactly that! Save the world!
So why did I enjoy this Netflix adaptation so much then? Perhaps because it strips away the superhero veneer and builds up interesting characterisation, makes the plots a little more realistic with a more meaningful ending as well.
Yes, I forgot to mention, that this first season is really a loose adaptation of Apocalypse Suite and is actually an improvement. Which I suppose says a lot about Way’s skills as a writer.
Good fun and hopefully a second season will be in our future!
… still there’s more …