Thursday, 18 July 2013

#CBR5 Books 73-74: "The Umbrella Academy, Vol 1 and 2" by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba

Total page count: 384 pages
Rating: Vol 1: Apocalypse Suite - 4 stars
Vol 2: Dallas - 4.5 stars

In the first volume we are introduced to The Umbrella Academy, a group of seven children (out of forty-seven children, born world-wide to women who'd previously not shown any signs of pregnancy), adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreaves, an eccentric millionaire inventor. The mother they ever know is a live dressmaker's dummy, and they are partially raised by a talking chimpanzee scientist called Professor Pogo. When they are ten, the children fight an erratic and escaping Eiffel Tower, later they disband and go their separate ways. Only when Sir Reginald dies, do they meet again - everyone except the seventh sibling, Viola, who was always told she was the only ordinary one in the group. Now an organisation with sinister intent contact her, revealing that she may be the most powerful one of the seven siblings.

In the second volume, some time has passed since the dramatic events in the first volume's conclusion. All the various members of the Umbrella Academy are experiencing challenges on various fronts, and are unprepared when further catastrophic events threaten, and they need to work together again. There are plots, and evil assassins, and number 5 has to use his time travelling abilities to go back in time to 1963, to prevent himself from preventing the assassination of JFK.

My husband gave me volume 1: Apocalypse Suite years and years ago for Christmas. I read through it really quickly, and upon rereading it, I discovered that I pretty much only remembered the opening bit with the runaway Eiffel Tower in any way clearly, and the rest was pretty much a delightful surprise. Also, despite having had volume 2 on my shelf for more than a year, I hadn't really got round to reading that either.

The art, by Gabriel Ba, is wonderful. It reminds me a lot of Mike Mignola's Hellboy, and that is in no way a bad thing. The storytelling is also incredibly original, strange and exciting. While I care not one jot for the music of My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way has an immense creativity, and as superhero comics go, these are more in the style of Nextwave than Superman. I preferred volume 2 to the first one, mainly because the various characters are established by this point, and the second volumes allows Way and Ba to further explore their personalities and expand on them. Both volumes are only six issues long, so they're excellent quick and entertaining reads. Perfect for the summer holidays.

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