Readers of The Lost Art

Umbrella Academy vol. 1: Apocalypse Suite

July 3rd, 2009

Umbrella Academy

Writer:             Gerard Way

Artist:              Gabriel Ba

Reviewer:       Louise


 “In an inexplicable worldwide event, forty-seven extraordinary children were spontaneously born by women who’d previously shown no signs of pregnancy. Millionaire inventor Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven of the children who form The Umbrella Academy, a dysfunctional family of superheroes with bizarre powers; when Hargreeves unexpectedly dies, these disgruntled siblings reunite just in time to save the world once again.” (Synopsis from  

“Apocalypse Suite” collects the six issues of this limited series by artist Gabriel Ba and writer Gerard Way (he of My Chemical Romance fame). I can best describe it as reading somewhat like what would happen if you threw X-Men, Doom Patrol, Nextwave, and Doctor Who into a blender, then added a pinch of crazy. (I should perhaps add at this point that I liked it.)  

Some of the plot does feel a little familiar; the ongoing rivalry between the team’s leader, Spaceboy, and the obligatory rebel member of the team, Kraken, is pretty reminiscent of Cyclops / Wolverine. Then again, the “dysfunctional superteam” theme has been done so often it would be extremely hard for there not to be some similarities between this and its antecedents, and there are some very nice touches. 

The team’s powers are original – I do rather like the fact that the oldest and most dangerous member of the team is stuck in the body of a ten-year-old, whereas the leader has the body of a giant gorilla – the villains are suitably horrible (page 2 of issue 2 made me jump and go “Ugh!”), and there’s a refreshing lack of exposition. This is a world with giant alien squids, talking monkeys and robots, and Way and Ba don’t particularly feel the need to explain why or how any of this happened. 

Which is fine by me, I’d far rather watch a monkey with a doctorate flying over the city looking for signs of the apocalypse (trust me, it makes sense when you read it) than watch someone hork up some exposition about when and how monkeys in this particular world became intelligent, when they got civil rights, etc. Happily, the weirdness is also balanced out by some real emotion; you really do feel the pain of the one member of the team who “just wasn’t special enough” to join in with their adventures. If you want to see a new and enjoyably weird take on the world of superheroes, stop off here. 

Paperback: 192 pages

Publisher: Dark Horse (16 Jul 2008)

ISBN-10: 1593079788

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