Issue: The Umbrella Academy: The Apocalypse Suite
Writer(s): Gerard Way
Artist(s): Gabriel Ba
Cover(s): James Jean (series), Gabriel Ba (collected edition)
Colours: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Nate Piekor of BLAMBOT
Publisher: Dark Horse
Forty-seven children are spontaneously born at the exact same time all over the world. All are supposed to be exceptional in some way, but not all of them survive. Of the ones that do, seven are found and adopted by the mysterious Reginald Hargreeves for the purpose of saving the world. For ten years, none of them are seen or heard from. Only when the Eiffel Tower goes bonkers do they show up (as “The Umbrella Academy”) to save the day. Another decade goes by, and the group disbands on not-so-great terms. A decade after that, what’s left of the group is tenuously brought back together to save the world once more. Only this time, they have to save the world from one of their own.
If you’re like me, you probably heard about this comic and blew it off as a gimmick. A rockstar writing comics? Puh-lease. That’s like when singers think they can act and actors think they can sing, right? I kept hearing about how amazing it was, but still I stubbornly refused to check the title out.
Boy, am I glad I finally caved and bought the trade because I had been missing out on something truly refreshing and highly entertaining.
What I liked the best about this trade was, surprisingly enough, the writing. I know! The part that “The Rockstar” did! I didn’t know much about Gerard Way before reading this trade, so I honestly was surprised that he not only created a story that was smart and wry but was also an artist (the back of the trade has his initial sketches of the characters).
The very first page sold me on this story as a whole. It reminds me of the British TV/movies/books I enjoy the most — there’s something Victorian, matter-of-fact, and modern about it all. Not everything is given away or explained (you don’t know why one of the kids is dead or what Hargreeves was trying to save the world from), and you don’t really feel like you need to know that stuff by the end of the trade. There’s time travel, super powers, guys with space gorilla bodies, and chimps that can talk and are more intelligent than some humans are. What more could you want in a story?
The art is a real treat and complements the writing very well. Gabriel Ba has a great, distinctive style, switching from panels that are filled to the brim to panels that are simple and focused. It’s a quirky look that matches the quirkiness of the writing style. Also included are the covers James Jean did for the floppies, and it goes without saying those are simply gorgeous pieces of work by themselves.
In the end, this is a nice setup for follow-up stories and an imaginative take on the Capes and Tights genre.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars