GN 29. Umbrella Academy Vol. 1: Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way. Illustrated by Gabriel Ba and Dave Stewart. 192 p. Published July 2008.
The introduction probably puts it best: “It begins, in the best way possible, with an atomic flying elbow…” In an unprecedented wrestling match, “Tuslin’ Tom” Gurney knocks out the space squid from Rigel x-9 and 43 children are simaltaneously born around the world. Reginald Hargreeves, an inventor and millioniare, does his best to collect these children, and adopts seven of them in order to save the world.
Raising them in the Umbrella Academy, these children grow to show extraordinary abilities, and work toward protecting the world from evil. Their first mission: stop the Eiffel Tower as it rampages across Paris.
Twenty years later, long after the Academy had disbanded due to the death of Number 6, these heroes return for the funeral of their adopted father. Spaceboy, formerly the leader of the children, exiled himself to the moon after a terrible accident left him with the body of a large monkey. Allison, known as The Rumor, is now a mother herself. The Kraken – Diego – works in espionage while Seance does little but pamper himself. Vanya, Number 7, known for her complete lack of a gift outside of the violin, finds she is still not welcome, while Number 5, recently returned after disappearing into the future, warns of a great disaster.
These siblings, despite their derision for one another, are drawn into battle when the funeral is confused for the reunion of The Umbrella Academy. Meanwhile, Vanya, upset at the lack of welcome, decides to join an orchestra composed of musicians bent on destroying the world. But this effort to find a purpose seals her fate, and possibly that of the world.
Written by Gerard Way, the lead singer of My Chemical Romance, The Umbrella Academy was heralded as one of the premier series of 2008, even winning an Eisner. While the story begins in a rather strange manner, the characters soon begin to draw the reader in while the artwork offers a colorful backdrop. As such, this reads more like one of the old comics – where the reality of the story is so far from our own that it must begin with certain base assumptions and work from there to explain the rest. Despite this, Way pens a writhing monster of a story, capturing the reader in his vision.
Rating: 4 out of 5