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The Umbrella Academy

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Title: The Umbrella Academy: Dallas
Author: Gerard Way
Artist: Gabriel Bá, James Jean
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Year: 2008-2009

Although the volume which collects the six issues of The Umbrella Academy: Dallas haven’t yet been published, I’ve had the privilege of borrowing the single copies from a friend, enabling me to continue enjoying the wonderful characters, story and dialogue that I first experienced in The Umbrella Academy: The Apocalypse Suite. These six issues cover a number of different stories and subplots, but the two main ones include a complicated attempt to assassinate John F. Kennedy (or to stop the assassination, depending on who’s perspective is used), and a two really creepy villains called Hazel and Cha-cha, who set out to stop Number Five.

This review will be a lot shorter than the previous one, because Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá continue to produce material as good as any of that in the first volume; perhaps the luster is reduced slightly because the concept is already familiar, but that’s adequately made up for by way of even more interesting characters (I really love Hazel and Cha-cha). So, on the whole, this is excellent and merits my recommendation, there isn’t much more to it. Four and a half snails to The Umbrella Academy, again!

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Title: The Umbrella Academy: The Apocalypse Suite
Author: Gerard Way
Artist: Gabriel Bá, James Jean
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Year: 2007

Having been abroad and thus deprived of my access to comic-loving friends, The Umbrella Academy: The Apocalypse Suite is the first comic book I read since The Filth in April last year. It’s also my first encounter with both the author, Gerard Way (of the band My Chemical Romance), and the artist Gabriel Bá. Even though it actually took me a while to get started, once I did, I was hooked immediately and finished this first collected edition (incorporating the first six issues) quickly and with relish.

On the surface, The Umbrella Academy is like any other superhero story (i.e. a couple of people with special powers gather together to fight evil), but what makes it unique is the wonderfully realistic and yet intriguing dysfunctional family they have become. These are, I think, the first super heroes I actually care for(with the possible exception of Dream in The Sandman), removing the barrier I feel between myself and the average comic book protagonist. Also, their forms might be exaggerated, but not wearing silly costumes is a great help.

What about the story, then? It’s connected to Vanya, the only one in the family without any special talent (or so she believes initially, at least). Being treated rather harshly by one of her siblings, she wanders off towards evil in the form av very special symphony being set up to bring about the apocalypse. Vanya with her violin is mean to play the main role in this terrible concert, but will her family be there to stop her and the conductor in time?

Another important aspect of The Umbrella Academy: The Apocalypse Suite is Gerard Way’s writing. Not only is it entertaining all the way through, but at times it’s also stunningly brilliant. His genius is shown in both dialogue and narrative, making the story come alive like any good writer, but in addition also manages to give it a unique touch. I woudl definitely be interested in reading something else written by him.

In all, The Umbrella Academy is very good. I haven’t said anything in particular about the artist and that’s because his work is good, but not extraordinarily so. This might be one reason not to give five snails, but another would be the story itself. It’s good, it’s quie original, but it isn’t perfect. Four and half snails is still a pretty good rating, though.

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