Why you Should Be Reading It: The Umbrella Academy
It seems kind of silly for me to be writing this piece now that there is a television show based on the comics, but it still bears saying that you ought to be reading the Umbrella Academy comics. Especially if you loved the show.
Umbrella Academy is a book about a weird, dysfunctional family, hidden behind a superhero style story. The adopted kids, brought to live in the Academy, and forced to train to control their powers for a reclusive old man who has an ulterior motive that he never discloses, was weird when it first came out and is still weird now. But underneath it all, it has a charm and heart that is so lacking in a lot of mainstream comics. The kids are all lovable, even though they grow up to be unlikable and selfish.
Written by Gerard Way, the former front-man of My Chemical Romance, the book is equally unlike the creative output of MCR, and yet somehow very clearly Gerard. The book is incredibly different from the music he created with his band, and even anyone who wasn’t a fan should pick the book up. The dark, brooding atmosphere of unhappy kids is tempered with a cleverly told time travel story and punctuated by some incredibly unique fight scenes. The story is equally heartbreaking and thrilling, keeping you on the edge of your seat and guessing until the very end. Yet it is so masterfully written that the twists are not completely out of left field.
Underneath it all, it is a story about family, about growth, about love and acceptance. It is a coming of age story and a story about second chances.
For me, this story came about at a time in my life when I was struggling to accept who I was. This story resonates with me, reinforcing the idea that family isn’t just the people you are born to. It reminds us that there are people who love us even if we aren’t perfect. This story tells us that we all have our own uniqueness and our own abilities and that when we embrace those abilities, we can change the world.
It is admittedly hard for me to write this recommendation without coming off as a massive fangirl (because I am) but I really do think that this is a story that any comics fan ought to pick up. With the third trade collection coming out in summer 2019, and the television show having been picked up for a second season, now is a fantastic time to discover the comics.