Review – The Umbrella Academy Apocalypse Suite

Written by – Gerard Way

Art by – Gabriel Ba

Colours by – Dave Stewart

Published by – Dark Horse Books

In an inexplicable worldwide event, forty-seven extraordinary children were spontaneously born by women who’d previously shown no signs of pregnancy. Millionaire inventor Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven of the children; when asked why, his only explanation was, “To save the world”

Published in 2008 Apocalypse Suite collects together the first six issues of Gerard Way’s The Umbrella Academy. Right so let’s get the obvious out of the way first -yes it’s that Gerard Way the lead singer and front man off the band My Chemical Romance. But don’t be fooled into thinking that this book is just an ego trip for a bored rock star the Umbrella Academy delivers a cracking read that on the one hand is a superhero action book but is also a study of dysfunctional siblings brought together after the death of the family patriarch.

The book kicks things of with a strange worldwide event in which forty seven women simultaneously give birth even though they had not shown any previous signs of being pregnant. Many of the children are given up for adoption, of the original forty seven, only seven are successfully tracked down by Reginald Hargreeves an eccentric inventor and Nobel Prize winner who also just happens to be a space alien.

After wiping the baby’s identities and renaming them 01 to 07 the children and Hargreeves promptly disappear from the public glare until the fateful day that the Eiffel Tower piloted by the fearsome zombie-robot Gustave Eiffel goes berserk and the Umbrella Academy are unleashed on the world.

We then jump forward twenty years, Hargreeves is dead and there have been major changes in The Umbrella Academy. Some members of the team have changed physically and some have gone through mental changes but one thing is clear, things are not well between the siblings and one of their number even seems to be dead.

I absolutely loved this book, the story by Gerard Way is excellent throughout with plenty of plot lines left unresolved at the end of the book which all gave hint’s to a larger story – just what did happened to 06 (Horror), what is the Hotel and just what the hell did 05 (the Boy) get up to in Dallas? I really can’t wait to find out.

Although this book is superficially a capes and tights story I think the real heart of the story is the relationship between the members of the Umbrella Academy team. Raised since they were babies to be superheroes and save the world from an unspecified threat these people are seriously messed up individuals, who are all carrying an awful lot of emotional baggage and unresolved daddy issues around with them. But don’t think this book is just one long downer for the emo generation there’s a lot of fun to be had with this book and it contains a rich vein of sly and often black humour.

Then there’s the art by Gabriel Ba which absolutely stunning throughout. The design of 01 to 07 and there grown up selves is superb and I got definite design nods to the Prisoner and there is also a 1960’s feel to the art it in some places and in others is thoroughly modern in it’s design. I thought the art was also reminiscent of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy which is no bad thing.

The cover by Ba again is a thing of absolute beauty its stark black and white design with the red banner is gorgeous and I think I may be more than a little obsessed with the beautiful White Violin.

So there we go The Umbrella Academy Apocalypse Suite is a blistering debut from Gerard Way whose story is perfectly complimented by Gabriel Ba’s brilliant artwork, in a book that is surely destined to become the X-men for a new generation.

GS Rating – 5/5

 GS Reviewer – Nick Roberts – @nickroberts101

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