The Umbrella Academy
Cast: Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, Emmy Raver-Lampman, David Castañeda, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher
Creator: Jeremy Slater
The world nearing an end, time travel and superheroes trying to reverse the apocalypse is the flavour of the season. While viewers are gearing up for Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame, Netflix brings in its newest set of superheroes on a mission to save the world with The Umbrella Academy.
With great power, comes great responsibility. This is a concept that is unacknowledged by our superheroes in The Umbrella Academy for the longest time. Based on the Dark Horse comic-book series of the same name by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba, the web series introduces us to a family of super-powered individuals, except that they have all been adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreeves a.k.a. The Monocle.
The first season of The Umbrella Academy is a mix of the first two comic book issues, Apocalypse Suite and Dallas. While fans would immediately notice the difference in terms of tonality, story arcs and still love it, others could find it uncanny as far as superhero stories go. You see, The Umbrella Academy is not your average run-of-the-mill superhero show where things return to normal at the end. It is the story of a dysfunctional family where kids are subjected to immense physical and mental pressure so that they can learn to control their specific abilities.
The series follows 43 children born on the same day across the globe with only seven of them making it to The Umbrella Academy set up by The Monocle. He numbers the kids according to their use to him and doesn’t prefer to call them anything but their numbers. This ever-brooding character often forms a point of contention between our heroes as they reflect upon their ‘love deprived’ upbringing and the personal trauma they all had to go through as kids. Naturally, they behave more as a flawed team than as brothers and sisters. The Monocle enacts his last plan in hopes of reuniting them after a fallout years ago in an attempt to save the world from an imminent apocalypse.
The huge assemblage of actors, such as Tom Hopper (Number One a.k.a. Spaceboy), David Castañeda (Number 2 a.k.a. The Kraken), Emmy Raver-Lampman (Number 3 a.k.a. The Rumor), Robert Sheehan (Number 4 a.k.a. The Seance), Aidan Gallagher (Number 5), Justin H. Min (Number 6 a.k.a The Horror) and Ellen Page (Number 7 a.k.a. The White Violin) feels right at home. All of them are able to enact a very different take on people with powers. They are broken, especially Number 7 who has always been dejected and put on the sidelines as she is not special like the other six (at least that’s what we are made to think of). But she’s ‘the extraordinary’ of the lot which is revealed later in the show and forms the climactic cliffhanger scene in the final episode.
For the most part of its run, the series keeps building up new mysteries but fails to address some pertinent questions as the curtains drop. It could be possible that showrunner Steve Blackman has reserved some of the secrets for the next season and in the meantime, the entirety of Volume 3 will hit the shelves sometime in August this year. So, there’s more to explore and the first season establishes the universe very well along those lines.
However, the show is slow with too many silent spaces in between. The individual storylines of the characters take time to establish themselves and up to the fifth episode the makers are building plots, making their viewers familiar with ‘The Umbrella Academy’ and its oddballs. Watch it for the performances of a team of misfits as they traverse through a bizarre upbringing and a mission to prevent the end of the world.