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.
The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite Issues 1-6 (2007-2008)
If you are interested to watch the commentary about the history of The Umbrella Academy, I recommend you watch this video.