The Umbrella Academy, Vol. 1: Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
There is a device in fiction (and sadly, sometimes in real life) that I can not abide. When adopted/ive family members, for whatever reason, are considered less than and not equal to biological family. Partially because my mom, my uncle, and a cousin I didn't know I had until just a few years ago were all adopted by their parents. Partially because for a number of reasons I would rather adopt than bear a child and I do not want to raise a child in a society that stigmatizes the fact that I chose them. Two things in this otherwise charming series of somewhat disjointed vignettes ruined my enjoyment because of my particular bias. So this is going to be one of those reviews where I get too personal with my reading. Sorry, Shannon Hale.
The first point is one of the 7 siblings adopted makes out with one of the other siblings. These children were raised as brothers and sisters from nearly birth.(This family is comprised from 7 of 43 babies that were spontaneously simultaneously expelled as full formed infants from women who had not shown any signs of pregnancy. Hargreeve's (father figure) could only find these 7 left from that incident and he adopts them all as soon as possible after they are born.)
I don't know about you, but I'm grossed out by sibling makeouts even if the siblings weren't "biologically related." Maybe this was an intentional gross-out factor? The other moment that set me off is not even in the main story arc, but a part of extra stories at the end. A villain asks the rough/broody Wolverinish character,Kraken,if it will bother him to see his whole family killed he says, "Not Really--we're adopted." My blood boiled my vision went hazy and red and I turned into The Awkwardable Hulk. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry. Mostly because now I'm going to tear your book--that you obviously worked hard on to prove that you aren't just another alcoholic rock star*--apart.
Of course, I don't know how intentional it is, but if you haven't noticed by now the story is a bit of a spoof (or rip-off, depending on just how much you really hate My Chemical Romance) on the X-men, with the enigmatic "father" Prof.X-type figure being a total Jerkface McGee to his family. Though actually other than the whole raising up the mutanty superpowered kids Hargreeve is more "Dr. Kellogg" from The Road to Wellville than Prof.X. He's such an over-acheiver who expects too much from children that the "unspecial" one actually writes a tell-all memoir. I like that each of the main characters is as dysfunctional as they are special, and each in their own way. And I like that instead of much world-saving the family is mostly showcased at some of their worst moments.
Okay, I have to admit, the adoption thing does bother me, a lot, and the storytelling is choppy at best. But it IS interesting, and there is a talking chimpanzee named Dr. Pogo, whose hideous past is only briefly hinted at (these hints are actually the choppy/disjointedness I'm talking about. I get what they were going for but it really didn't work for me.)
Actually, I must grudgingly admit there were a few little moments of humor in the book too. For instance, I crack up at the repeated use of "space" as a modifying descriptor for "alien." But maybe that is just me.
The art is great. You will not hear a complaint from me about that aspect, except that I actually kind of liked Gerard Way's initial ideas better than Gabriel Ba's final product. The Viole Blanche is well imagined and beautiful, if not the most original idea. But still, to me as a fan of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns and so on and so forth, the whole flawed superhero thing is starting to be as tedious as the whole perfect superhero thing was during the golden age. But to those who only love their superheroes with issues, this book will be right up your ally.
*I know, low blow, but google "drunk Gerard Way" and you will get 138,000 results. I understand sudden fame is difficult to handle and according to internets he is not drinking anymore, good for him.
View all my reviews >>