Let’s admit it: we all had some sort of emo or scene phase in middle school or high school. We’re over it now, and sometimes we make slightly uncomfortable jokes about that period of our lives. But no matter how much we separate ourselves from that former identity, it’s still a part of us. For instance, I still really like to listen to Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco, and internally scream any time My Chemical Romance pops up in the news (I literally cried the day they broke up).
Speaking of the band, the vocalist Gerard Way has been writing comics recently for DC. He’s always loved the art style, and actually planned on being an artist before MCR became big (or even was a thing). However, these comics aren’t his first. In 2007, he and artist Gabriel Ba worked on a comic under the company Dark Horse, titled Umbrella Academy. So far, it’s made up of two volumes containing six issues each, with a third being worked on as we speak.
The plot of the comic stems from the fact that one day, 43 babies were born to random, unconnected women who showed no signs of pregnancy until the moment of birth. Millionaire Reginald Hargreeves, aka The Monocle, wants to obtain as many as possible–he ends up with seven that have survived the sudden births. These children seem to have superpowers, and they come together to create the Umbrella Academy. They save the world when needed, as seen in the first issue of the comics, and live with Monocle in his mansion when they’re not.
However, the actual plot of the series, specifically the first volume, Apocalypse Suite, is much different. All the surviving children come together in 1977 for Monocle’s funeral, awkwardly catching up and seeing what everyone’s been doing for the past ten or so years. All the children were super-powered except Vanya, who was normal and forced to play the violin, so now it’s all she really knows. She doesn’t go to the funeral, spiteful and angry at her adoptive father, but is in the area when she’s called for first chair for the violin section for an orchestra: the Apocalypse Suite. From there, things go wrong for Vanya, and her siblings must rejoin as the Umbrella Academy to save the world and help their sister.
The second volume, titled Dallas, follows the sibling Number Five and his time-traveling mishaps and shenanigans, showing how/why he’s in major trouble with the time travel police. As a sixty year-old man stuck in a ten year-old’s body, things have obviously gone wrong for him. His siblings have to help him, and all the things that go on in these six issues revolve around the assassination of President Kennedy (or lack of, since this is in a universe where JFK was never assassinated). This volume includes gory, bloodthirsty mercs-for-hire with the heads of cartoon characters (named Hazel and Cha-Cha); a monkey who looks like Marilyn Monroe; and the consequences directly stemming from the end of Apocalypse Suite.
This comic is honestly such a good read, with witty dark humor, great art that pairs with the darker plotlines, and really awesome characters. You’ve got the former leader of the Umbrella Academy who now has the body of a gorilla and gets fat eating cookies on the moon watching game shows; a girl who can change reality by simply saying “I heard a rumor that ___”; an incredibly intelligent talking monkey who’s close friends with Number Five; and more. This was the first comic I ever read (admittedly because of Gerard Way’s name on the cover), but I keep on coming back to it and reread the volumes I own. I am anxiously waiting for both volume three (Hotel Oblivion) to come out, and the Netflix show starring Ellen Page. You can find this comic at any Newbury Comics near you, and countless other comic book stores (and hey, support your small business comic book stores!), so go pick up a copy!