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Writer: Gerard Way
Artist: Gabriel Ba
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letters: Nate Piekos
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
If I were ever to create a comic it would be released just like Umbrella Academy. I love the way that instead of having one ongoing title like Avengers or Justice League; Way just releases “seasons” whenever he feels a new idea coming on. But how would this work? Because the first book was a well told tale that had a beginning and a definitive ending. How could they keep going with the story of the seven gifted brothers and sisters? I mean they had already done what they had set out to do. Save the world from their all too powerful and crazy sister. How could they top that story? Well, how about we throw time traveling, President Kennedy, and tons of missiles in there!!!?
The story of Umbrella Academy is much like X-men or Doom Patrol, if I had to compare it to other comic books. The Professor X or Doc Niles of the book is Sir Reginald Hargreeves (The Monocle) and he adopts seven infants that will grow up to save the world. They are a dysfunctional group of superheroes who try to live as a dysfunctional family. As kids they just referred to each other by numbers, but as adults they each have their own code name which include; Spaceboy, Rumor, Kraken, Séance, Future, White Violin, and Horror (who didn’t live long enough to get a decent codename). Turns that they had to save the world from their sister The White Violin.
This volume takes place after the apocalyptic battle with their sister. It really feels like that even though they saved the world, none of the siblings are out celebrating except for The Séance, who has become a celebrity. Spaceboy has become indolent and does nothing but watch TV, Kraken’s working with the police to investigate his mysterious time-travelling brother No.5, The White Violin can’t move and doesn’t remember anything, The Rumor is dealing with the loss of her voice and is using a notepad to write down what she thinks, and of course the Horror is still six feet under. This is a really depressing start. After the first volume I figure they would be all together and teaming up against alien invaders or something. Without giving to much away things do get better when No. 5 shows back up and together they must stop Temps Aeternalis, which is an organization that has time traveling capabilities that has a plot to kill JFK. Did I mention that there are two time traveling psychos that make things harder for the team?
With his use of eccentric dialogue, nicely paced foreshadowing, and secret histories Way really had me hooked from beginning to end. Normally I grow tired of time traveling stories that feature JFK’s assassination, but the reasons given at the end of the book really made me believe all of this was possible. I really didn’t think I was going to enjoy this book as much as I did the first volume, because I really underestimated Apocalypse Suite. But, the book had a strong story from the beginning, with just the right amounts of insanity, dark humor, suspense, heart, darkness, and hope to keep me reading it in one sitting and rereading it again before I wrote this review. By the end of the volume, I not only became a believer that Gerard Way could tell a hell of a story using his own characters, but he could write stories featuring the X-men or the JSA or Doom Patrol and make them just as good.
What is a solid story without a prime artist to carry out the visuals? That talent came in the form of the expressive and vivid artwork by Gabriel Ba; whose artwork reminded me of a cross of Mike Mignola, Michael Oeming, Tim Sale, and Guy Davis, but with more of fluidity to his shapes and forms. His layouts are dynamic and can carry the unscripted story by themselves. I enjoyed his art in the first book, but this is a whole new level. His facial expressions were cute and creepy as if Tim Burton or Edward Gorey had design the characters. Ba does a fantastic job of grounding the insane stuff, giving enough attention to details like the two time traveling assassins Hazel and Cha-Cha wearing the cartoon masks. How can something that looks so adorable look menacing at the same time? The colors by Stewart only make the comic stand out from most new books on the market. Those vivid colors sure helped out during the brain splattering scenes.
If you aren’t a fan of My Chemical Romance or just refuse to read this book based on its cult following, at least check out the intro by Neil Gaiman praising this book. If you like Hellboy, BPRD, the Goon, and X-men, Scryed, Doom Patrol you’ll most likely LOVE Umbrella Academy. If you like weird, fun, and well plotted, paced story buy this book. And of course if you like My Chemical Romance, I’m sure you have already bought this book. It was a real treat to read. I think of UA Dallas in the same terms that I do of Terminator 2 or Aliens; sequels that surpass the original story. I think the one thing that I missed having in this collection is James Jean doing the covers. I’m a huge fan of his and it was a little disappointing not to have him come back again and do the covers. A small gripe really, but you know I will be first in line if these guys put together a third series. A