Monday, April 27, 2009

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded. This time, a review of The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite (Dark Horse, 2008).

I was initially very skeptical about trying a comic book written by a musician; something about the project initially felt like those celebrity cash-in comics, Leonard Nimoy's Primortals or something. Enough good reviews persuaded me to try it, and I'm very glad I did. Gerard Way's tale of a deeply dysfunctional superpowered family reads exactly like the Grant Morrison comics I wish he was still writing. Mix the backstory of Task Force UK and Cloud Nine from Zenith into the world of his Doom Patrol and you've got a good idea of what to expect.

Gabriel Ba's artwork is a little more problematic. I had a tough time adjusting to his style on Casanova and this is even more stylized and has a harsh, flat appearance. He does a great job making all of the characters distinctive and unique, but their world is simply ugly and unpleasant.

Overall, it is a very entertaining book. I appreciate Way's decision to give us just a few hints about all the backstory and throw us in towards what appears to be the end of the Umbrella Academy's long and not-entirely happy career. A pair of bonus episodes fills in a little more of their history. It's a very good presentation of a very good comic; I'll certainly look in on the Umbrella Academy again in the future. Recommended.

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