Netflix doesn’t need the MCU to make its own superhero series it seems. Not when they can get their hands on stuff like Gerard Way’s Umbrella Academy series. I’ve read the first two volumes of the series. I liked them well enough but didn’t love them. So, why not check out the TV version?
So, let’s keep this somewhat to the point: a mysterious incident somehow caused the sudden birth of a group of babies around the world, all on the same day, from women who weren’t even pregnant before. Eccentric billionaire Sir Reginald “The Monocle” Hargreeves decides to adopt/buy as many as he can. He gets seven of them, and then he begins to train them as superheroes when most of them seem to display some kind of superpower. The lone powerless one, Number Seven AKA Vanya, is set aside and given even less time and attention from the only man these kids know as a father, a man who could be most kindly described as “distant” and “negligent” when it comes to parenting. The kids (except for Vanya) do some superheroic stuff and make names for themselves, but something happens and the series, set in what looks like the present, shows the surviving members of the Umbrella Academy gathering for Sir Reginald’s funeral.
Who are they? Well, Vanya is now at least an aspiring professional violinist, Luther/Number One is a superstrong guy living on the moon, Diego/Number Two is some sort of knife-throwing vigilante type, Allison/Number Three is a famous actress who can alter reality with her voice, and Klaus/Number Four is a drug addict who can talk to the dead. Number Five disappeared, and Ben/Number Six died.
And it quickly becomes clear these five are not close. Heck, Luther and Diego get into a physical fight at a backyard memorial service, where Diego’s speed means Luther can’t get too many hits in, but Luther’s strength means Diego can’t cause much actual damage to his physically imposing brother. And we do get to see Klaus has, since he can talk to the dead, kept somewhat in touch with Ben.
And then Number Five returns. He says he was lost in time for decades. He hasn’t seemed to have aged a day since he left. And he knows stuff but won’t say.
This is where my general knowledge of where the comic series goes is something of a problem in that I know more or less where Five has been and what his story is, but this episode doesn’t say, so neither will I…for now.
This is a weird show, but Way’s source material is pretty weird to begin with. I mean, the Hargreeves kids had a talking chimp named Pogo as one of their teachers growing up, and the series has added an android mother named Grace to the proceedings. I don’t remember Grace from the comics, but there’s a lot of stuff in there, so maybe she just didn’t make much of an impression. I did like what I saw, even if like the comic I didn’t love it. This pilot makes good use of pop songs, particularly to fight scenes, and at one point when Klaus attempts to summon the spirit of their late father to see if he’d been murdered. He doesn’t get Sir Reginald as that’s about the moment Number Five returns, but he does play a song that causes himself and all of his siblings to each break out into a dance that probably says something about the personality of each of them.
And they’re all dancing in separate rooms of the mansion they used to call home.
Plus, there’s the ever so slightest hint that Vanya is maybe not as powerless as everyone, herself included, has been led to believe.
So, let’s see where this one goes.