The Umbrella Academy
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|The Umbrella Academy|
|Publisher||Dark Horse Comics|
|Schedule||Monthly, every third Wednesday|
|Publication date||September 19, 2007 - 2013|
|No. of issues||15 (12 Including 3 short stories)|
|Main character(s)||Sir Reginald Hargreeves
The White Violin
|Created by||Gerard Way|
|Written by||Gerard Way|
James Jean (cover illustrations for series 1 only)
|Letterer(s)||Jason Hvam (Internet preview only)
|The Apocalypse Suite||ISBN 978-1-59307-978-9 |
|Dallas||ISBN 978-1-59582-345-8 |
The Umbrella Academy is a comic book series created and written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá. The first six-issue limited series, The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite, was released by Dark Horse Comics, the first issue making its premiere on September 19, 2007. It won the 2008 Eisner Award for Best Finite Series/Limited Series. A second series, The Umbrella Academy: Dallas, followed in 2008. The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion, and a proposed fourth series, are in development. A television series was announced to be in development in July 2015.
- 1 Main story
- 2 Characters
- 2.1 The Academy
- 2.1.1 The Monocle (Sir Reginald Hargreeves)
- 2.1.2 #00.01 Spaceboy (Luther Hargreeves)
- 2.1.3 #00.02 The Kraken (Diego Hargreeves)
- 2.1.4 #00.03 The Rumor (Allison Hargreeves)
- 2.1.5 #00.04 The Séance (Klaus Hargreeves)
- 2.1.6 #00.05 Number Five (The Boy)
- 2.1.7 #00.06 The Horror (Ben Hargreeves)
- 2.1.8 #00.07 The White Violin (Vanya Hargreeves)
- 2.2 Others
- 2.1 The Academy
- 3 Stories
- 4 Collected editions
- 5 Influences
- 6 Adaptations
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The Umbrella Academy initially takes place in an alternate history where John F. Kennedy was never assassinated, and is primarily set in 1977 (the year of writer Way's birth), which is treated as the present. The titular team are described as a "dysfunctional family of superheroes" (akin to Marvel Comics Fantastic Four). In the mid-20th century, at the instant of the finishing blow in a cosmic boxing match, 43 superpowered infants are inexplicably born to random, unconnected women who showed no signs of pregnancy (it is hinted by a character implied to be God that they are collectively a modern-day incarnation of the Messiah). Sir Reginald Hargreeves a.k.a. The Monocle, an extraterrestrial disguised as a famous entrepreneur, adopts the surviving seven children, and prepares them to save the world from an unspecified threat as the Umbrella Academy. In Apocalypse Suite, the team disbanded and failed to stay in contact with each other until they were reunited upon the news of Hargreeves' death, and subsequently reformed the team after one of their own number became a supervillain.
The Monocle (Sir Reginald Hargreeves)
An alien disguised as a wealthy entrepreneur and world-renowned scientist. He adopts the members of The Umbrella Academy at birth. Inventor of The Televator, The Levitator, The Mobile Umbrella Communicator, and Clever Crisp cereal. Olympic gold medalist, and recipient of the Nobel Prize for his work in the cerebral advancement of the chimpanzee. He was very cold in his raising of the children in that he refused to let the children call him father, instead preferring to be called The Monocle. Also when speaking to the children, he addressed them by their number, which he gave them in order of usefulness to him.
#00.01 Spaceboy (Luther Hargreeves)
The leader of The Umbrella Academy. As a child he possessed the ability of super-strength. After a disastrous expedition to Mars, The Monocle had to transplant his head onto the body of a Martian gorilla. His powers are enhanced physical strength and resilience. His martian gorilla body can withstand the vacuum and cold of space, so long as he has a helmet on. He often uses a jet-pack and his weapon of choice is a ray-gun. After his career with The Umbrella Academy, he moved to the Moon and lived at the Annihilation Control outpost. On the moon, Luther is attended to by a robotic butler of sorts named Ben. As revealed on the Dallas storyline, Spaceboy and The Boy (Number Five) are twin brothers. He has been shown to have somewhat of a love interest in #00.03, The Rumor, and some readers have questioned if this counts as an incestuous infatuation.
#00.02 The Kraken (Diego Hargreeves)
The reckless and rebellious member of the group; described by The Monocle as “an insolent brat.” He has the ability to hold his breath indefinitely and has demonstrated a strong affinity for knife-throwing. He and Luther have a very clear rivalry, and Diego seems unwilling to take orders from Luther. He is more of a Batman-like superhero in that he goes on regular patrols and can be seen taking down drug dealers. In his teenage years, he was the bass player in a band called the Prime8s, with Body (Inspector Lupo's assistant), and Vanya Hargreeves. He is also seen to be left handed in the short story "Anywhere But Here," as he is playing the bass left handed. It appears that he harbors a secret love for his adopted sister, Vanya. It is yet to be seen how The Kraken lost his right eye, but he has no sight in his right eye and wears an eye-patch when not wearing his mask, which has a blacked out right eye.
#00.03 The Rumor (Allison Hargreeves)
Described as narcissistic. She has the ability to instantly alter reality by lying. After her career with The Umbrella Academy, she married her boyfriend, Patrick, and had a daughter named Claire. The couple has since divorced, and Patrick has full custody of their daughter. She is romantically linked to her adopted brother, Spaceboy, however their love for each other is unconsummated as Spaceboy sees himself as somewhat of a monstrosity due to his martian-gorilla body. She has a cybernetic left hand, as Dr. Terminal devoured her original hand when she was a child, though in "Dallas" when she goes in and gets vocal surgery, her arm is no longer drawn as if it were mechanical, showing that her arm had also been fixed.
#00.04 The Séance (Klaus Hargreeves)
Showcases a fretful, morbid temperament. His powers are levitation, telekinesis, and the ability to contact the dead, although his powers only work when he is not wearing shoes. He has the words "Hello" and "Goodbye" tattooed on his palms. It has been theorized by Mr. Pogo that he's been taking drugs since he was a teenager. In "Dallas," Klaus is seen holding a Vietnamese baby, which he later reveals to be his, to the surprise of Luther. Handing it to an elderly woman before leaving in the televator, he thanks her for taking care of the baby, to which she responds: "Where you are going is no place for kids. The baby is safer here." Before leaving in the televator, Klaus apologizes to the woman, saying: "Really sorry about what happened to its mother." The conversation was in Vietnamese, implying that he learned it during the three years he ran a strip club named "Spookies." Klaus had been killed by Hazel and Cha-Cha in "Dallas," but was rejected from both Heaven and Hell, and later noted that it did not matter when a member of the Hargreeves family was shot in the head.
#00.05 Number Five (The Boy)
At the age of 10, The Boy disappeared by traveling 50 years into the future, which seemed to hold no difficulty for him. Sir Reginald warned that he "could never go back"; it took him 50 years until he discovered how to go back in time. He physically aged normally during this time, though upon returning to the past, he retains his 10-year-old appearance, despite his adoptive siblings being 30. His body is apparently stuck in time and cannot age, as medical examinations prove that there are signs of neither cell growth nor death.
The Boy claims to have read accounts of the Academy's immediate future and their connection to an apocalypse. While trying to go back in time to warn his adoptive brothers and sisters about the apocalypse, he worked with the Temps Aeternalis. He was taught to perform "microjumps" in time, allowing him to move faster than the eye can see. He is considered to be "the perfect assassin," as he has DNA of the best killers in history. He has a 100% chance of killing if he decides to kill.
It is revealed in the "Dallas" storyline that Spaceboy and The Boy are twin brothers.
He has a puppy named Mr. Pennycrumb.
#00.06 The Horror (Ben Hargreeves)
Possesses monsters from other dimensions under his skin (i.e. most often appear as tentacles emerging from his torso). Is deceased, but no information regarding his death is given. There is a memorial statue of him located in front of the Academy. Even though he's been dead since before the start of the series, he's been portrayed as a member of The Umbrella Academy, appearing as his statue counterpart, or in visions. His statue is ruined by Vanya when she destroys The Umbrella Academy's Mansion, and is replaced by a memorial statue of Pogo, who dies in the same disaster.
#00.07 The White Violin (Vanya Hargreeves)
The most estranged member of the group. Vanya originally showcases no particular powers, other than an interest in music. Vanya is known to have written a book detailing her life with the Academy and her decision to leave. According to The Conductor, leader of the Orchestra Verdammten, she's the most powerful of The Umbrella Academy. In her early childhood, The Monocle suppressed her powers, and kept her on medication to keep them that way, but they were eventually released by The Conductor which ended up driving her mad. She is capable of releasing destructive waves of force using her violin that can be strong enough to cut someone's throat or destroy an entire building with a single note.
- Dr. Pogo – A talking chimp associated with The Monocle. When growing up at the Academy, Spaceboy considered Pogo to be his best friend. He was also a sympathizer of Vanya's plight when she is repeatedly told by Sir Reginald that she is not special, as she has no special powers. Despite this connection, he is killed by Vanya when she is turned into The White Violin.
- Mrs. Hargreeves (Grace Hargreeves) - Referred to as "Mom" by the members of the Academy. While The Monocle is shown standing next to a woman in a portrait in the first issue, this is apparently not the children's "Mom," who is in the second issue, and appears to be a partially animate plastic mannequin. Little information is given as to her origins.
- Inspector Lupo – A police officer, detective, and friend of The Umbrella Academy.
- Abhijat – The Monocle’s bodyguard and assistant. He also serves as the pilot of the Minerva.
- Hazel and Cha-Cha - A pair of extremely violent assassins working for the Temps Aeternalis. They both wear brightly colored cartoon character masks, exhibit maniacal and psychopathic behavior, and have a love of sweets. They die in the "Dallas" storyline when The Séance possesses Cha-Cha, kills Hazel, and then himself (as Cha-Cha).
- Dr. Terminal - A supervillain suffering "Einstein syndrome" who feeds his tumour by converting matter. He consumed Rumour's left arm and anticipated the reforming of the Umbrella Academy. He is said to be imprisoned in "the Hotel".
Gerard Way announced at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con that the third series would be entitled The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion. It is hinted that this could be the return of Dr. Terminal, as referenced by Spaceboy saying "no one could escape from the Hotel" in Apocalypse Suite issue #3. Dark Horse originally announced that Hotel Oblivion would be released sometime during 2010 but this did not transpire.
Whatculture.com included Hotel Oblivion in its list of comics to look forward to in 2012, though the comic was not released in that year either. In an interview with Newsarama that same year at New York Comic Con, Way revealed that he was writing issue 1.
In June 2013 Gerard Way composed a tweet about the certainty of The Umbrella Academy's future, stating that it would be a "really long time" before a release of Hotel Oblivion, as he planned to move away from comics "indefinitely" once the Killjoys series is complete in order to focus his attention on his musical career. He stated in the conversation following his tweet that he would return to comics "when it's right". However, in December 2013 Way composed several tweets saying that he and Gabriel Bá would be working on both Hotel Oblivion and the fourth installment of The Umbrella Academy during 2014. In June 2015 he tweeted that he was still actively writing the new series.
A first short preview story of the series was released on November 2, 2006 on the Dark Horse Comics website. The first printed story was “…But the Past Ain’t Through With You.” which appeared in the 2007 Dark Horse Comics Free Comic Book Day issue. Another story, “Safe & Sound”, was published in July 2007 in Dark Horse Presents online on MySpace.
“Mon Dieu!” (Internet Preview)
An Internet preview was released on November 2, 2006 on the Dark Horse website. The story was colored by Dan Jackson and lettered by Jason Hvam. It is included in the Apocalypse Suite collection. The story is only two pages long and contains two main characters, The Séance, appearing as an adult, and Number Five. A time-travel machine causes the Séance to briefly experience life as a French military commander.
“…But the Past Ain’t Through With You.”
The first printed story of the series, the title is a line from the B-side track "Kill All Your Friends" by Way's band, My Chemical Romance ("And you can sleep in a coffin, but the past ain't through with you"). "…But the Past Ain’t Through with You.", appeared in the 2007 Dark Horse Comics Free Comic Book Day issue. The comic book was released on May 5, 2007, Free Comic Book Day. It is included in the Apocalypse Suite collection. The comic book also features the début of Pantheon City written by Ron Marz and illustrated by Clément Sauvé and Zero Killer written by Arvid Nelson and illustrated by Matt Camp.
The story begins with Spaceboy, The Rumour, and The Séance finding The Rumour’s body in an alley. The killer seems to be the 'Murder Magician' and his Assistant, who has hypnotized everyone at a talk show. The villains are defeated and the secret is uncovered. The Rumour had been sneaking out to meet up with a juggler and lying about going to the library. Her powers created a double that went to the library; this one was taken and slain. It's revealed the Monocle worked with the Magician to kill the copy to teach Rumour 'a lesson'. At the bottom of the final page, it states "... Some of the characters you have enjoyed today may or may not be living and/or dead by the next episode", hinting that The Horror dies soon after.
“Safe & Sound”
“Safe & Sound” is an eight-page story published in the first issue of the second volume of Dark Horse Presents in July 2007. The second volume of Dark Horse Presents (an anthology comic book, which was the first comic ever published by Dark Horse) appears monthly exclusively online on the social networking website MySpace for free. The title comes from a song Gerard Way worked on with Japanese rock singer Kyosuke Himuro for the movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete. The comic book also features stories for the series Sugarshock! written by Joss Whedon and illustrated by Fábio Moon (Gabriel Bá’s twin brother) and Samurai: Heaven and Earth written by Ron Marz and illustrated by Luke Ross.
The story begins with The Kraken on top of a moving car occupied by criminals. The credits on the page say “Safe & Sound / featuring The Kraken / Formerly of the Umbrella Academy”. The cars occupants, a driver, a man in the passenger seat with a Tommy Gun, a Gypsy fortuneteller in the back seat, and a little girl in the back seat are all aware that The Kraken in on top of the vehicle. After The Kraken stabs the top of the car, the fortuneteller, who is holding a green crystal ball, orders the man in the front to shoot The Kraken, who manages to escape injury. When the girl in the back says that she wants to go home, the fortuneteller tells her she can as soon as her father pays the ransom. The Kraken punches the man with the gun through the window, prompting the fortuneteller to order the driver to slam the brakes. The Kraken and the man with the gun are ejected from the car, the latter going through the windshield. The driver then indiscriminately shoots at the clothing store with the Tommy Gun. The Kraken emerges on top of the car (behind the fortuneteller) and demands the release of the girl. She pulls out another cartomancy card with 'devil'. The driver shoots at The Kraken, who jumps towards him and punches him. The knocked-out man falls to the ground. The fortuneteller, still defiant, tells The Kraken not to produce his blade, or else she will drop the green crystal ball, which she claims holds the life of the girl she is holding hostage. She claims that if it drops the girl will die. The Kraken throws his knife at the fortuneteller’s shoulder and she drops the crystal ball, which shatters on the ground. The fortuneteller is in shock to see that the girl is still alive and is surprised by a punch delivered by The Kraken. The next scene shows the fortuneteller being arrested who is hysterically saying that the girl should have died. Inspector Lupo (a character similar to Commissioner Gordon of Batman) thanks The Kraken for saving the mayor’s daughter. The Kraken reaches into the back seat of the fortuneteller’s car and produces a crystal ball, identical to the one that was destroyed. He hands it in to the Inspector and tells him that it is, “Something important. Take care of it.”
“Anywhere But Here”
Dark Horse released the eight-page short story on their MySpace, and it is also included in the Dallas collections.
The story takes place 13 years ago, during the group's teenage years. The Monocle is giving a long and boring speech to Diego and Vanya (The Kraken and The White Violin) who are in a punk rock band called Prime 8's, in which Vanya plays the guitar, Diego plays the bass guitar and an ape called "Body" plays the drums. The Monocle dislikes the band's music and the name of their debut album "I Don't Wanna Kill The President" saying that this gives The Academy bad publicity. He gives Vanya a plane ticket to Paris, where she is supposed to study "real" music (classical), however he is simply trying to separate Vanya from Diego. In his room, Diego convinces Vanya to play one last gig that night at a bar, and then with the money they would earn, they could run away from the Umbrella Academy to tour with the band. They agree to meet at the gig that night. At the bar, people are screaming to hear the Prime 8's, but Diego hasn't shown up yet. The owner of the bar demands to see the band playing at that moment or he'll send another band on, so Body decides to finish the band and say goodbye to Vanya. Vanya, upset at being let down by Diego, is walking down the street and passes by a shop selling TVs. News is shown about a gang arrested by The Umbrella Academy, which they did with the help of Diego. Vanya walks away and gets into a taxi. The driver asks, "Going somewhere important?" Vanya answers, "Yeah, anywhere but here."
The series has been collected as a trade paperback:
The Umbrella Academy: The Apocalypse Suite (by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá, includes all six issues from The Apocalypse Suite, extracts from sketchbooks featuring early versions of characters, the short internet preview ("Mon Dieu!") and the story ("…But the Past Ain’t Through With You.") from Free Comic Book Day 2007, limited edition hardcover, ISBN 1-59582-163-5, softcover, ISBN 1-59307-978-8)
This edition was included on Wizard's "100 Best trade paperbacks and graphic novels published during the Wizard era", ranking it at number 94.
The Umbrella Academy: Dallas trade paperback of Volume 2 of the series (192 pages), was published on September 30, 2009, and includes the story "Anywhere but Here" and nine pages of sketches. (ISBN 159582345X) A hardback limited-edition version with 232 pages was published on October 21, 2009 (ISBN 1595823441).
Way has stated that the biggest influence on this piece of work is his favorite writer, Grant Morrison and his work Doom Patrol with DC Comics. He has also stated that Pat McEown of ZombieWorld: Champion of the Worm was a big influence on his work. Way has said that Edvin Biuković is his all-time favorite artist and that "his Grendel Tales are like my bible to draw from".
A film version of The Umbrella Academy has been optioned by Universal Studios. Originally, screenwriter Mark Bomback was hired to write the screenplay, however in 2010 it was announced that Rawson Marshall Thurber had replaced him and was reworking the script.
There has been little talk of the film since, and no release date has been set. Recently, in an interview with Newsarama at the 2012 New York Comic Con, Way mentioned that there have been "good talks" and a "really good script", but that it was "kind of up to the universe".
On July 7, 2015, it was announced that The Umbrella Academy would instead be developed into a television series, rather than the original film, produced by Universal Cable Productions. On July 11, 2017, it was officially announced that Netflix had greenlit a live-action series adaptation of The Umbrella Academy due to premiere in 2018, with Way performing as an executive producer.
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