I read the Umbrella Academy comics when I was 13 – the side project of My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way and comic book artist Gabriel Bá, it was a pretty interesting take on how trying to make X-Men in our world is kinda fucked up. Stylistically, Bá was the star of the show. A lot of the panels still hold up. In terms of plot, it was kinda like a teenager writing Watchmen – the angst was there, but the feeling…? Unsure.
As for Netflix’s new property of the same name, it’s a bit more even-handed. The visual style is more muted as a consequence of live action. In this adaptation, both runs of the original series are combined into one overarching plot – it’s a bit awkward at times, particularly when they focus on the angst and the lingering effects of terrible parenting. Ellen Page’s slow breakdown is heart-breaking. But this melding also allows the story to be propped up by the breakout stars – namely, Aidan Gallagher as a 58 year old in a 13 year old’s body , and Cameron Brittle and Mary J. Blige as assassins Hazel and Cha-Cha respectively. All three immediately shine as the morally ambiguous, and refreshingly not irritating, hearts of the show. Mary J. Blige gets to do her famous dance moves while high and on fire, so that alone redeems the show’s flaws for me.
Worth a second season.