Category Archives: World of Comics

Comics Review: The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion (2018)

Previously, I wrote comic book reviews about the first two volumes of Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá‘s The Umbrella Academy, Apocalypse Suite and Dallas. The Netflix show with the same title that Steve Blackman ran and wrote had smart writing for any adaptation, complex but a method that suits the television audience and to a razor-edge point where the viewers can be convinced with.

The third season detailed the Sparrow Academy which was depicted by the end of the second season as a dramatic cliffhanger. It was more shocking for the comic geeks because the Sparrows are not really much introduced to comics. I happened to read the third volume, Hotel Oblivion, as the title gives me or every one the precise impression that the third season is based on this book which is true but not entirely. The Sparrows show up to the Umbrellas at the end of the book just like the show’s second season as mentioned above.

That makes Steve Blackman’s writing the show in a very different direction really cool. We buy what we watch and there surely is a behind-the-scene geekery-geekery-gock discussion about the fourth book proceedings to refer to on the television. When will the fourth book release, no idea but Steve Blackman’s idea about the show’s fourth season will now test him. Because so far he has done a really good job.

One major difference between television and comics is that Hotel Oblivion is a hotel in the former but a prison in the latter. A prison that is designed by who else than Sir Reginald Hargreeves himself for the most dangerous villains his babies have fought and defeated. There is no chance of escaping this prison unless they use a teleportation device, televator. But utilizing the televator will also not be enough because Scientific Man monitors Hotel Oblivion from space.

Scientific Man is The Umbrella Academy’s Doctor Manhattan with a better costume. While reading the fifth issue, surely his appearance to every reader like me was a surprise. He entered the scene like a messiah or a Superman. And I am not understanding why was this character not involved in the latest season. Or did he show up if I am mistaken?

The stories of both the television and the comics are extremely different. My whole enthusiasm to read Hotel Oblivion to broaden my understanding for the third season altered because, in the comics, the Umbrella Academy fights against the Murder Magician, a hypnotist, and Obscura, the jewel thief. Both of the villains manage to escape the Hotel Oblivion.

Speaking of the hotel, there is no mention of Hotel Obsidian in the comics. Hotel Oblivion is a one-dimensional prison built by Hargreeves to torture his villains. But the third season, I opine, edges over this idea in writing the third season. Steve Blackman introduced the concept of Hotel Obsidian, a hotel where Klaus used to get drunk more often. When the Sparrows show the Umbrellas the exit door, they take shelter in this hotel and later on discover the mysterious routes that take them to a bizarre version of Obsidian which is Hotel Oblivion.

Just like in previous books, Hotel Oblivion maintains dysfunctionality in the siblings. They are again scattered. Spaceboy is walking on the streets of Tokyo. Number Five is a hired assassin. Vanya again has a shorter appearance like Dallas and continues her physical therapy. But this time she is interesting to read when Vanya and her mother have a deep conversation in the fourth issue where the mother explains what makes her daughter so special.

Hotel Oblivion also deserves to be praised for developing the understanding of Hargreeves. A thought about Hargreeves creation to be a blessing also juxtaposes his vision on a broader scale whether he ended up being a villain after the revelation of his prison plan that happened after his death.

Just like the previous two books, the main issue covers and the introduction of the issue names had impressive drawings as well as some portions of the stories. Gabriel Bá’s illustration really reflects a darker image of the happenings. Notice his detailing in the fifth issue when all the villains march together. Or the nuclear reaction in the final issue. The comic-book partnership of Gerard and Gabriel is the key to The Umbrella Academy being an exciting brand to follow.

I think the third book was an offshoot to step into major parallels. The seven-chapter identity crisis story gave new meaning to thinking about renewing a universe. It was an interesting idea. Hotel Oblivion is completely different from the first two books, it is like waking up during a road trip to experience a totally new world.


REFERENCE

The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion Issues 1-7 (2018-2019)

DOWNLOAD

https://getcomics.info/other-comics/the-umbrella-academy-collection/

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Comics Review: The Umbrella Academy: Dallas (2008)

Two time-traveling serial killers Hazel and Cha-Cha are on a quest for Number 5 (The Boy) whereas Number 5 lives fifty years in the future where he gets training by Shubunkin Goldfish (Carmichael) and later on an assignment to assassinate President Kennedy.

The Umbrella Academy was abstracted by the leading vocalist and co-founder of My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way. In 2007, Way completed the writing and visual artwork of the first comic book limited series ‘Apocalypse Suite‘ with the cartoonist Gabriel Bá. Dark Horse Comics published the graphic novel and was first presented in the annual promotional event Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) the same year. The first issue was immediately sold out and indicated staunch interest amongst the readers. By next year, this graphic novel won Eisner Award for Best Limited Series.

This storyline, Dallas, is second in line, which began to run its issues in 2008, exactly nine months after Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá concluded the first chapter, Apocalypse Suite. Just like the predecessor, Dallas also has six issues but the writing elements are darker and more complex than Apocalypse Suite. And it is the upgrade over the first chapter that the tag team of Gerard and Gabriel have improved the method of storytelling to the readers with a lot of potential bettered for Number’s character.

Kraken, who is Number 2, is also a welcoming signal who looks physically visible to lead the perplexed team. The readers may get disappointed by not finding much presence of Vanya in Dallas as compared to Apocalypse Suite. But I sense it was a risky move to continue the story without not much contribution from Vanya who lies on her bed after what she has been through in the first chapter. But there are moments in one of the issues to read where Rumor holds grudge against Vanya.

The fifth issue is mostly based on the Vietnam War and has impressive writing. In fact, the one parallel that bridges both the chapters is the marvelous take on the dysfunctionality of the lost children under the Umbrella Academy. The reader must have to keep his/her hours passed on the Netflix version aside because these two chapters were published almost ten years before what the global fanhood hooked up with on the television.

I must admit that the writers of the Netflix adaptation did some hard work in giving the idea of presenting the original work to the television in the rightest and most acceptable direction. The elements of both chapters are mixed to construct a plot that looks good enough to move on. I thought Hazel and Cha-Cha were created straight on television until I read Dallas. Because they didn’t appear in Apocalypse Suite.

I think Apocalypse Suite will be remembered more than its sequel because of the plotline that inspired the first season of the show. But writing-wise, Gerard-Gabriel have matured their storytelling in Dallas. Surely, an important read one cannot miss at all. The next in line is ‘Hotel Oblivion‘ which started to publish the issues in 2018.


REFERENCE

The Umbrella Academy: Dallas Issues 1-6 (2008-2009)

DOWNLOAD

https://torrentgalaxy.mx/torrent/111289/The-Umbrella-Academy–Collection—2006-2019-

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If you want to read/listen to the commentary about The Umbrella Academy: Dallas, I recommend you follow this link.

Comics Review: The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite (2007)

A space alien Sir Reginald Hargreeves, a.k.k.a The Monocle, is a world-renowned scientist and a wealthy entrepreneur on earth. He adopts seven superpowered children who raise them as superheroes. They are called The Umbrella Academy. Years later, after failing a mission in Paris, they split. Twenty years later, they return after they receive the news of the death of their adopted father, The Monocle.

 

The Umbrella Academy was abstracted by the leading vocalist and co-founder of My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way. In 2007, Way completed the writing and visual artwork of the first comic book limited series ‘Apocalypse Suite‘ with the cartoonist Gabriel Bá. Dark Horse Comics published the graphic novel and was first presented in the annual promotional event Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) the same year. The first issue was immediately sold out and indicated staunch interest amongst the readers. By next year, this graphic novel won Eisner Award for Best Limited Series.

There are six issues in the graphic novel and each consists of 23 or 24 pages. Gabriel’s artistic work and characterization will somewhere remind the reader of Frank Miller‘s work on The Dark Knight Returns. The drawings are not really that captivating but I liked the sub-cover art pages of the issue titles. Yes, there are some pages that need attention to the detailing like Pogo testing number 5 and news reporting in the third issue. Or Kraken shutting down Vanya when she returns. I liked Vanya’s character development where it reflected that she wasn’t taken seriously and no one cared about her. Those two dark pages of music notes were quivering. Pogo’s soft corner for Vanya was also highlighted.

Twelve years later, Netflix adapted and created the streaming television series. In the first month of release, the show was watched by 45 million viewers and became one of the biggest hits of the year. The show achieved cult status and critical acclaim thanks to well-executed screenwriting.

This is not strange that the adaptation gets a license to make changes for visual dynamics to captivate the audience but I felt the sources taken from Apocalypse Suite were modified and to some extent, looked acceptable. Just, for example, Vanya’s characterization; in comics, Vanya is powerful when she unleashes her powers by playing violin but in the show, she uses any sound wave. Ben (number 6) is almost invisible in the novel but has a fine supporting role like any of the other six. Ben and Klaus (number 4) are good friends in the show and are comic relief and fan favorites. So observing these two changes, I think no one will have an objection.

Yes, there were elements that raised the eyebrows like Klaus and Vanya were LGBTQ+ characters and were not in comics. Maybe that’s a Netflix thing and this Netflix show is no different in making those choices for the established characters.

But I think Apocalypse Suite is a very interesting beginning of the series that continues its story in the next three novels, Dallas (2008), Hotel Oblivion (2018), and Sparrow Academy.


REFERENCE

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite Issues 1-6 (2007-2008)

DOWNLOAD

https://getcomics.info/other-comics/the-umbrella-academy-collection/


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If you are interested to watch the commentary about the history of The Umbrella Academy, I recommend you watch this video.

Comics Review: Kingsman – The Secret Service (2012)

Gary “Eggsy” Unwin lives with his mother and brother Ryan in Peckham, South London. One night, he gets arrested for smashing up a stolen car. His uncle Jack London bails him out and recruits him to work for the British spy agency. After a three-year training, Eggsy is put in use to work as an agent, and along with Uncle Jack, they investigate a series of celebrity kidnappings that leads to the dangerous Doctor James Arnold whose mission is to reduce the human race to only one billion population to avoid facing a total extinction and establish a brand new society of intellect.

British literature has a proud history of presenting one of the most pre-eminent spies and detective writings. Kingsman may not rank amongst the great writings but established a cult status, especially after the first graphic novel was turned into a film. The popularity of the novel can be observed this way that Kingsman’s first novel ‘The Secret Service‘ was published in 2012 but the idea of filming the book began the very next year.

The Secret Service was created by a trinity of Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons, and Matthew Vaughn. Millar wrote, Gibbons drew, and Vaughn co. plotted. The novel has six issues and those who have watched the first film in the series will enjoy reading this and remember a lot of scenes coming straight from this novel. But after reading this, I feel that the film improved by sensationalizing the story. The audience will get more joy in watching than reading because of the ideas and the changes that were developed in the film.

And these are major changes I am talking about. Professor James Arnold, a small character portrayed by Mark Hamill in the film is actually the main antagonist of the novel as Doctor James Arnold. Colin Firth‘s Harry Hart is Jack London in the book but his relationship with the main character Eggsy differs. He is an uncle to the kid in the novel but not in the film. In fact, the film had a backstory that well supported the cause that introduced Eggsy to the spy agency. The famous William Horman quote Manners Maketh Man wasn’t written in the novel but picturized in the film. Jack London’s death scene is totally different, he got killed by Professor Arnold without knowing his identity whereas, in the film, Harry Hart is killed by the antagonist Richmond Valentine portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson after that magnificent action sequence inside the church. Gazelle is an African-American man in the book who can also speak but is a mute girl in the film.

So many things changed in the film but these are acceptable because it was the trinity of Millar, Gibbons, and Vaughn who made this film. Millar and Gibbons were the executive producers and Vaughn directed this. So there is no point in questioning the changes if the creators of Kingsman were responsible for the decision making.

Dave Gibbons’ artistry has a classic detailing of old-school comics with pretty good care on facial moods, posh attires, and brilliant bloody violent action scenes. Observe the gunshot exploding in Jack’s head. I don’t know why I have this feeling but the Blu-ish theme used in the night scenes is striking like Eggsy’s team flying near the mountains in Switzerland or the balloon in the air.

The Secret Service is a short story that gives the readers its share of entertainment, enjoyable humor, quality violence, and such an impressive character detailing of Eggsy and Jack. The fans of the Kingsman series can definitely give a try to this book.


REFERENCE

Kingsman: The Secret Service Issues 1-6 (2012-2013)

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https://kingsman.fandom.com/wiki/The_Secret_Service_(comic_series)


SUPPORTING VIDEO

If any reader is willing to watch a visual commentary about the graphic novel and the film, watch this video.

Comics Review: Secret Origins (1973)

 

If the readers of comic books from the DC platform are exhausted and bored of reading about their two signature products, Batman and Superman. If the DC fans are willing to know how the heroism of their favorite superheroes ever began. What made them change their identities and started to fight against crime? If you are confused to understand, after realizing that there is more than one origin story, what exactly is the original story to believe in? Or, if you are new to DC Comics and are enthusiasts to try and read a few origin stories, I have a very excellent suggestion for you.

My fellow DC readers, sixty years ago, the publishers did a favor on the readers of that time and published a one-shot with the title, Secret Origins. This issue had around 85 pages and reprinted original material of the golden-age superheroes. A decade later, the publishers took a better step and ran 7 issues between 1973 and 1974 that had origin stories of many favorite superheroes.

The good thing about these issues is that the original stories have been represented in their original form without any alterations and mentioned the dates of original publishing. So the confusion of following more than one origin story was avoided. Also, the publishers tried to push reading about the stories of some heroes who weren’t as iconic as Justice League‘s most important heroes like Kid Eternity, Vigilante, or The Legion of Super-Heroes. Well obviously, the publishers didn’t cover many figures due to their hands being tight over releasing extremely limited issues but this was the baby step in their history to expect further in the coming decades.

The oldest comics make you know one aspect of the writing that the writers do not intend to stretch a particular episode or a story to some length but find a moment to end the issue instead of giving broad details. But those writers who came up with these iconic characters will always be ahead of all the writers of all eras and ages because they were the creators of our favorite superheroes, they provided them costumes, powers, and reasons to live. And this is one major reason, the readers need to visit these historical pages and get the knowledge of how their favorite superhero was actually written and what was his/her backstory.

By reading the origin stories, there is every chance for the reader to develop an interest in other heroes, their villains, and their worlds. And reading other heroes become necessary because sometimes the readers limit themselves to one hero and read his/her stories in different timelines. But when that hero is involved in a mega story where other heroes get involved, a lack of understanding for the other heroes leads to unattraction. That interest or enthusiasm to read a major story fades. Just for example, if the reader of one hero chooses to read a major storyline like any of the Crisis stories, how will the reader develop that interest for other heroes that he/she has for his/her favorite? Issues like Secret Origins guide the readers to understand those heroes.


REFERENCES

1) Secret Origins Special Giant Issue #1 (June 1961)
2) Secret Origins Issues 1-7 (1973—1974)

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https://getcomics.info/dc/secret-origins-1-1961-one-shot/

https://getcomics.info/dc/secret-origins-vol-1-1-7/


SUPPORTING VIDEO

Secret Origins is about the backstories of superheroes. But if you are interested in understanding the backstory of DC Comics, you may like this.