The Umbrella Academy, the success between comics and TV series

The Umbrella Academy, the success between comics and TV series

The Umbrella Academy

The Umbrella Academy, from ink on paper to staging for Netflix: the comic revelation by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bà about a quasi-family of superheroes that will have to deal with a planetary threat has enchanted the readers, first, and then the viewers, with its transposition on screen for the famous streaming platform, becoming one of the best series inspired by Netflix comics. Let's take a leap into the bizarre and problematic world of the Academy, between the original work and its television version in view of the imminent arrival of The Umbrella Academy 3.

A revelation

In 2007 Dark Horse Comics published a comic mini-series born from the pen of an author that many could have considered unlikely, but who was revealed to be actually a skilled storyteller and not the simple comic enthusiast who dabbles in an amateur way: Gerard Way, former leader and singer of My Chemical Romance. The Brazilian designer Gabriel Bà, who moved the characters of this work with his illustrations in a dynamic and angular style, joined him in the undertaking, giving life together with Way to The Umbrella Academy.| ); }

The plot finds some foundations in the stories of other super-groups, such as the X-Men or the Doom Patrol: first of all, the support of some individuals with superpowers who live as a sort of big family in a a school that also serves as a home for them; but also their "adoption" by a leader of great intellect who brought them together in order to create a weapon against the dangers that threaten the Earth. It is no coincidence that Gerard Way recently wrote a story for Doom Patrol, however in The Umbrella Academy the basic concepts that have made the history of other comic series are developed in an original, twisted if you will, and with constant tones. punk and crazy, over the top.

I'm not okay in The Umbrella Academy

On the other hand, how can the members of the Academy be blamed if their birth was already a traumatic and unusual event? In fact, the seven child prodigies were all born on the same day, all of a sudden, in different places in the world to mothers who until then were not even remotely pregnant. Children, abandoned by their mothers as small, unwanted nasty surprises, are adopted by the wealthy entrepreneur Sir Reginald Hargreeves (also called The Monocolo): winner of Nobel Prizes and Olympic medals, he is actually an alien, while the little ones are all gifted with some bizarre power and are welcomed into Umbrella Academy to grow up with the aim of saving the world.

Gerard Way and Gabriel Bà thus create a "picture from life" of what happens in all large (but often also small) families by telling, through the experience and the bizarre super-human skills of the members, the disagreements that divide them and yet in some way bind them. In fact, there is Spaceboy, or Number 1, who possesses a super strength increased by an alien gorilla body; Team Number 2, Kraken, skilled with knives and capable of free diving indefinitely; there is The Rumor which is Number 3, able to bend reality according to the lies he utters; Medium, the fourth half-brother, who can come into contact with the deceased (as the name suggests), levitate and move objects with telekinesis. And then there are Number 5, whose power allows him to move in time, and Vanya, the half-sister who apparently has no power (but as we all know, appearances often deceive ...)

The multifaceted aspects of the protagonists of The Umbrella Academy, much more human than super, are then inserted within a colorful frame of madness, frenetic dynamism, punk and loaded comedy, although often the plot is interspersed with flashbacks and digressions that could disorient the reader, but which on careful reading are functional in the general construction of a narrative arc over the top in every aspect. The adoptive family in which everyone brings the gift (or the curse) of a super power, is then only the starting point for developing an original product in which to tell the daily reality of those who also bring with them a baggage made of traumas, disappointments, conflicts that reverberate in the interactions with siblings, in a tortuous but also crazy and extravagant path. It goes without saying that the Umbrella family is anything but perfect and its organization is often undermined by the individual dramas of its members who in some way, however, always find a way (albeit in a corner) to collaborate with each other. br>

Oh you, Netflix!

Such a subject, with such a variety of characters and such a pressing and dynamic screenplay, could only lend itself to a filmic reinterpretation. So Netflix thought in 2019 to stage the first season of The Umbrella Academy in the form of a TV series, under the direction of Steve Blackman who reconstructed the unease of the Umbrella family and the vicissitudes of its members, with a writing that does not simply translates the comic: the events narrated in a rapid and frenetic way in the comic series are in fact expanded with totally original, unexpected and spectacular events.

If then Gerard Way's comic is Gabriel Bà is a race at insane speed between the action and the personal stories of the superhero protagonists, the Netflix TV series makes its own the frame given by the main plot to create a basis on which to deepen the analysis of each character, with a rhythm so more relaxed and original events that are not present in the paper version of The Umbrella Academy. Here too we have the story of the sudden births of the seven little superheroes and of their adoption by Sir Reginald Hargreeves, with their meeting seventeen years later for the "funeral of dad"; however the staging takes its time to tell the human side of these superheroes and their family discomfort, always with a good dose of comedy, but through a personal reinterpretation of it. Thus, even in the second season which sees the staging of the events in Dallas, the lives of the protagonists undergo a deepening rich in vicissitudes following the time spent in the past, where they have had the opportunity to recreate different existences.

The show thus rests on a direction that proves to be successful in giving, with irony, the right space at the right time to the absurd events of this dysfunctional family, gathering the favor of the public also thanks to a soundtrack by all respect (just think of the pieces by Queen, The Doors, Fitz and the Tuntrums, Mary J. Blige - who is part of the cast - and songs by Gerard Way himself) and a cast that can count on the guarantee of well-known names. Among these, Ellen Page (Vanya), Tom Hopper (Spaceboy / Luther), Robert Sheehan (Medium / Klaus), Mary J. Blige (Cha cha) and Colm Feore (Reginald Hargreeve), to which are added the interpretations of Aidan Gallagher ( Number 5), Emmy-Raver Lampman (The Rumor / Allison), Justin H. Min (Horror / Ben) and David Casteñeda (Kraken / Diego).

The first two seasons of The Umbrella Academy were a success, beyond the physiological flaws that any TV series can present - in this case the CGI sector could have been treated more, for example - and the work of Gerard Way and Gabriel Bà has also received the consent of those who had never approached to comics to date, between visually powerful scenes (such as the time jump in a post-apocalyptic future of Number 5) and moments of absurd comedy, between musical dances and family dramas masterfully interpreted to convey the right amount of emotions. The public has decreed his favor and Netflix will bring in its catalog the third season of the series, arriving on June 22, a continuation of the catastrophic events that have seen the return of the family to the present, after Dallas: this time, however, our heroes will find a new one. family to face them, that of Sparrow Academy, which seems to have taken their place in their own home. The new members will be played by Justin Cornwell, Britne Oldford, Jake Epstein, Genesis Rodriguez and Cazzie David.

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