Writer: Gerard Way
Artist: Gabriel Ba
EDITOR’S NOTE: The third issue of Umbrella Academy will be available in stores this Wednesday, November 21.
I resisted a long time before delving into Dark Horse’s much hyped six issue series Umbrella Academy even though I was exposed to the premise by the company’s offering during Free Comic Book day earlier this year, but only because I sometimes get turned off by publicity of a product which ultimately fails to deliver. Fortunately, Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba’s comic proved my initial resistance unfounded and I am now fully enjoying this little gem of a book.
The third issue continues the tale of the Monocle’s children who grew up into seven extraordinary individuals and then went their own way for 20 years. Way’s influences on this comic are evident in books like New X-Men, Runaways and to some degree, classics like Doom Patrol, yet the rock star turned comic scribe adds enough new elements to elevate the narrative into something which feels fresh and innovative while retaining enough of the conventions which have made team books enjoyable for so long.
For example, there’s the requisite soap opera elements sprinkled throughout the comic by virtue of the fact some of the kids grew up resenting each other while others disapproved of their adoptive father, while others are more forgiving of his eccentric single mindedness and lack of paternal nurturing. Indeed, the question of how a lack of nurturing a child affects said child’s development is a central theme which drives this aspect of the comic. However, the real strength of the book lies in its ability to immerse a reader in complete escapism, a quality that is missing from many of the mainstream books now on the stands, hell bent on including realism at the expense of suspension of disbelief.
Such suspension of disbelief is mandatory here. Indeed, Way and company give us a comic book about an alien benefactor, a vengeful group of machines programmed to carry out their master’s orders beyond the grave, single women giving births without being pregnant, and a man coming back from a future apocalyptic timeline stuck in his 10-year old boy’s body. These elements and more make up the rich narrative tapestry of the Umbrella Academy .
Gabriel Ba’s pencils are a smorgasbord of ingenuity, detail and come to life in vividly vibrant panels which are enhanced by Dave Stewart’s coloring. Every page and every panel is rich with visual information which almost makes it criminal to skim through the pages. This comic requires detailed study and for the reader to take in each and every scene for maximum enjoyment. Hasn’t that always been the point of reading comics? This book is a rare treat and giant leap forward for the industry.
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