If you want to talk about dysfunctional families, you do not get more dysfunctional than the Hargreeves of Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy,” the 2019 mini-series based on the Dark Horse Comics book. Most people know Gerard Way as the flamboyant frontman for the bad My Chemical Romance. Way is also a lifelong comic book fan and stunned many when he created and wrote the critically acclaimed six-issue mini-series “The Umbrella Academy” for Dark Horse in 2007. “The Umbrella Academy” even had sequel series in 2009 and in 2018. Way went on to curate his own quirky if short-lived imprint for DC, Young Animal.
The showrunner, Steve Blackman (writer on “Fargo” and “Altered Carbon) faced the task of translating the comic books’ trademark strangeness to the screen. The inaugural 10-episode season was based on the first comic book arc, “Apocalypse Suite.”
In 1989, 43 women around the world suddenly give birth though they had never been pregnant. Eccentric billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) adopts seven of those children, training them to become super-powered vigilantes called the Umbrella Academy. But tragic events wind up in the group’s dissolution and its remaining members becoming estranged. When Hargreeves dies allegedly from a heart attack, the members are forced to reunite, save two: the deceased Ben (Justin Min) and Number Five (Aidan Gallagher), who had traveled through time and vanished. The super-strong Luther (Tom Hopper, Dickon Tarly from “Game of Thrones”), reluctant reality-bending Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), druggie Klaus (Robert Sheehan) who can talk to the dead, the knife-wielding Diego (David Castañeda) and the only member without any super powers, Vanya (Ellen Page, yes that Ellen Page, Juno and Kitty Pride) have an already awkward reunion interrupted when Number Five suddenly returns from the future.
At the cliffhanger at the end of episode 10, Vanya has turned full villain, attempting to destroy the world, so the rest of the family has to intervene. They save Vanya, but pieces of the moon have broken off and destroy the Earth. In a desperate attempt, the Hargeeves use Number 5’s powers (Ben included) to time travel out of this point to try and find some way to prevent the apocalypse. They blink out just as the wall of fire reaches the concert hall.
Now, we’ll find out what happens next. The second season drops on July 31, Netflix just announced.
The show will most likely rely on a new script rather than follow the original sequel the first arc in the comics, 2008’s “Dallas.”
A worldwide hit, the show was excellent, offbeat and mysterious, helped immensely by the source materials and the choices made to alter it to make it just a little bit more accessible to mainstream viewers. Page and Castañeda, in particular, were standouts. The Hargreeves return in season 2, of course. Returning as well is Blackman as showrunner.
Additionally, season 1 has one of the best soundtracks ever heard on television, including songs from Queen, They Might Be Giants and, of course, Gerard Way, incorporated into the scenes. If you don’t feel like joining in when Page stiffly dances to Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now,” then you have a hole where your heart should be. Can you imagine what season 2’s tunes will be?
Get your umbrella ready.
For more information, visit netflix.com/umbrellaacademy.