Based on the Eisner Award-winning comic book by My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way and artist Gabriel Bá, the first season of this show of dysfunctional superheroes dropped on Netflix on February 15th. Starring Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Ashley Madekwe, David Casteñeda, and Mary J Blige. An interesting look at what happens when child heroes grow up and have to be adults with their myriad abilities.
Beware, what follows may contain spoilers.
While the idea, itself, is not original, we’ve seen stories about child heroes growing up and how it could be a struggle to cope with what you can do as an adult, The Umbrella Academy plays this more true than other stories with the same idea. Klaus, who can speak to ghosts, keeps himself high all time as to make himself unable to hear most of them, and Allison, who can make anyone do what she says, used her powers to not only further her acting career, but also gain a relationship and eventually parent her child. This is what would happen to children who were raised by a father who only wanted them for the expressed purpose of forming a crime-fighting team, we see it with kids who have overbearing parents bent on living vicariously through them, at least the maladjusted ones anyway. They weren’t even given names except by the android their father created to help raise them that they to the present day refer to as Mom.
Furthermore, the world around them is also interesting. Number Five, who seemed to never got one of those names, can teleport and time travel and begins the first episode returning to family after being lost in time for nearly two decades for the rest of the family, but much longer for him. He’s chased by a group of time traveling assassins, and he knows that the world is going to end in little more than a week. Only brought together by the death of their father, who is survived by the aforementioned robot and material figure as well as an intelligent and well-dressed chimpanzee butler named Pogo, it had been thirteen years, since the death of their brother Ben, who could summon a Cthulhu-like monster from within him.
A great cast and an astounding soundtrack are what makes this show fun to watch, and it’s pacing both takes time to explore each of the six remaining Hargreaves children, without ever losing momentum towards the thrilling end of the first season. The show has just the right about of silliness sprinkled into it so that you don’t get too bogged down in the darkness of it all. How would you be if you spent the last nearly five decades completely alone in a hellscape that you have no idea how to prevent only to escape it only eight days before it happens? That would be terribly depressing, but then put all of that into someone with the body of a boy now going through puberty? That’s still dark, to be sure, but it’s also hilarious.
Special praise must be given, however, to Ellen Page, who plays Vanya/Number Seven, who is told all her life that she is, unlike her adopted siblings, unremarkable. She is the only one of the seven children not to be a member of the titular group, and her distance from the family grows when she publishes an expose on the family, without any of their consent. Page plays this role perfectly, never confident in her own existence anywhere in the story, but always wanting to try to be a part of everything. I won’t spoil the end of her arc, but suffice it to say, this was a masterpiece of a performance from her.
If you are a fan of the comic book genre and want to see something that isn’t from DC or Marvel, take a look at The Umbrella Academy, it’s a really fun experience, and at ten episodes, it flies by pretty quickly. The first season of The Umbrella Academy is streaming on Netflix.
David Castro is a Puerto Rican writer from New York City. He has worked on the upcoming Undead supplement for Chill Third Edition and is working on launching a Patreon. You can find him on Twitter (@theinkedknight), on Tumblr (thedevilsyouknew), on Facebook (facebook.com/inkstainedstudios), and at davidrcastro.com.