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Jul 06

The Umbrella Academy: The Apocalypse Suite, Vol. 1 by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá

Posted on July 6, 2021 at 12:19 PM by Zach Berkley

The Art of Reading - July 2021 Read
The Umbrella Academy: The Apocalypse Suite, Vol. 1

In an inexplicable worldwide event, forty-seven extraordinary children were spontaneously born to 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."

These seven children form the Umbrella Academy, a dysfunctional family of superheroes with bizarre powers. Their first adventure at the age of ten pits them against an erratic and deadly Eiffel Tower, piloted by the fearsome zombie-robot Gustave Eiffel. Nearly a decade later, the team disbands, but when Hargreeves unexpectedly dies, these disgruntled siblings reunite just in time to save the world once again.

Why are we reading it?

We’re switching gears. Nimona was a great beginner book. It wasn’t trying to fit any particular mold and so you could come into it with no prior experience with sequential art of comic books and just appreciate it for what it was. The Umbrella Academy also stretches beyond traditional boundaries, but it does so largely by taking well-established comic book tropes and archetypes and making them something different than expected.

You can still read and appreciate the book without a ton of comic book knowledge. Part of what makes the story unexpected is the focus on the characters’ lives when they are not engaged in super heroics. It’s as much about their weird, familial relationships as anything else (and everyone can relate to that to a certain extent). Still, some of it is going to make a bit more sense if the reader is at least a little familiar with super hero culture. Luckily, thanks to fact that comic books and super heroes are more mainstream than ever before (way to go MCU/DCEU), most people are at least a little aware of the genre and what they can typically expect from it.    

About the Author/Artist

In addition to being and Eisner Award winning comic book writer, Gerard Way is a rock star. Not metaphorically speaking (well, I guess that too) but actually. He’s the lead singer for the rock band My Chemical Romance. He is still involved in writing, recording and performing music. These days he is also the executive producer for the popular Netflix version of The Umbrella Academy.

Gabriel Bá is an award-winning Brazilian comic book artist. His style can quickly shift from somber and still to expressive and whacky and is prefect for a story like The Umbrella Academy, which makes those jumps often. In addition to working with Way, has worked on the comic adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy and B.P.R.D titles, and several joint projects with his twin brother, Fabio Moon, who is also a comic book artist.

Look for discussion questions next week!


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