Meanwhile Behind the Umbrella Academy
I have avoided this one for a little while now. Sure I saw it as a recommended read on Comixology. But if you know anything about me, you will know right off that I am stubborn and I avoid anything recommended to me. Call it a character flaw if you will but I have to do it my own way by golly and that is how I am going to do it…
And then I was in one of the libraries that I frequent. (Wow that seems so much like a “meanwhile behind the umbrella factory segue”). Anyway, I have three physical libraries that I go to for books, music, and graphic novels. One of them is the one that I am currently working at and then the other two are locals that give a larger access to the stuff I get into. Mind you, that is an important thing for libraries, how much access they give you. If you can’t find what you are looking for then what is the point, right?
If you hadn’t noticed I have already gotten derailed in my thoughts about this one. That is how much I tried to avoid it and all that. So let’s take it back a little bit. Yep, I avoided it, there was always something else to read that took precedence over what I could see in this one. I mean the cover itself is fairly simply. Just a black and white drawing of a woman’s body painted like a violin. They add in the color red with a banner telling you the title and creators, but that’s just a marketing gimmick. So really, this has the possibility of being something bland and boring.
How many times have I mentioned here that you can never judge something solely on the cover?
See, when I ran across the physical copy of it, I was reminded that I had seen it so many times before and put it aside. In that moment I knew this was something that I had to read or it wouldn’t leave me alone.
And through all of this I just realized that I hadn’t even mentioned the name of this one. In simple terms, it is The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite (Dark Horse, 2008). We can take that to so many different comic references that I don’t have the time to even list them all. So we are going to leave that bit of it alone other than to say that the Umbrella Academy is the name of the organization in the book and leave it at that.
What I came to find out is this is a story and series created by one of the guys from the band My Chemical Romance (Gerard Way). The story he has given us with this is something a bit common now but that is only a tie in to many of the super hero stories we know already. The story itself is fresh and at times funny while maintaining a connection to what we expect within a super hero framework.
By super hero framework I am not referring to much of what is being put out by the big guys. I am thinking more along the lines of the indies and the worlds they are giving us that bring fresh light into a world of banal similarities. This stuff is a bit dark and deep while maintaining a levity that never really takes itself too serious.
The basic story is a bunch of kids are born under strange circumstances and a mysterious benefactor takes them as his own. They are molded from a young age to become protectors of the world. This is a theme that has been used often enough now that it can be a bit cliché. But at the same time it is one that works well for a running commonality that allows the reader to catch up to the important stuff within the story itself. We don’t have to waste a ton of our time in tedious backstory that really is unimportant to what is going on within the overall story.
Now with all of that out of the way, what can we examine in this comic itself? The gist of the storyline is what we may expect from a comic like this. Some criminal mastermind is bent on destroying the world in some huge way and the heroes must come in to save the day. This is one of those things that gives this storyline a bit of flavor. For the most part, the heroes had done their work when they were kids. Now that they are grown up, the world has gone on being the world and doing its thing without them. They don’t know about the end coming or how it is going to come about. Just like life, we may think we know what is going on but then things happen to change that around so that events unfold completely different than what we might have thought of them.
Mind you, within the make-up of any given team, there are those who have specialized talents and skills that the others don’t share. This is what makes teams work. When you have those around you to compensate for your failings, everyone ends up better off. Enter, for this story, the time traveler. With this you have a player who happens to know the end result and can fill in the gaps of knowledge the others lack. Sure, we can say that this in itself is a story device and it doesn’t always happen like that. But this is fiction and we always have the bonus of the right things when we need them with fiction, otherwise what would be the point. I mean if fiction was exactly like our life, why would anyone need to read it. Imagine how boring that would be.
And then back to this…
I really want to keep adding in all sorts of sixties era comic segues with this one but I have a feeling I would be the only one who finds that humorous. Anyway, with art style and storyline within this one, it is something that if you haven’t read it, you probably should. I mean seriously, what are you waiting for, a sign of the apocalypse?
As a final thought, while getting this piece together I ended up on Amazon to check some stuff about the book. One of the things that stood out to me was the running price right now of the hardcover. That thing is selling for over $500 right now. In this age of mass produced comics that tend to carry no value, that speaks quite a bit of the power packed into this one. I know what you’re thinking. You can’t put a price on art and story. Really, yeah, you can. And sometimes it is a marker to just how good that one is. Not every time, but sometimes.
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