It’s a sad time for many superhero fans as we mourn the loss of the great Marvel Netflix series;. First Luke Cage and Iron Fist, then (perhaps most surprisingly of all) Daredevil, with the inevitable news coming out the other day that both Punisher and Jessica Jones have been put to sleep – for the time being, at least.
But fear not! Because out of the shadows of our emo adolescence an old hero emerges to fill the superhero void left on Netflix in the form of Gerard Way and his Dark Horse comic The Umbrella Academy. In this new series, the story is brought to life by likes of Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, and even Robert Sheehan returning to his superhero roots following the iconic and short-lived Misfits series. Umbrella Academy is described by Way himself as a twisted version of the X-Men set in alternative time line to our own, and that’s pretty much exactly what we get here.
One day in 1988 a number of children were mysteriously born spontaneously, in spite of none of their mothers being pregnant. Eccentric billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves used his vast fortune to acquire seven of them to raise as his own. Over time their powers began to emerge and the Umbrella Academy became a world-famous team of superheroes, each with their own abilities and personality faults to go along with them.
Years later the team have gone their separate ways; one has literally gone to the moon, while others have become a famous movie star, a drug addict, a knife-wielding vigilante and Vanya, the powerless sister who wrote a tell-all book about her experience. It’s only their father’s mysterious death that has brought them together once more, but this is just the tip of the iceberg in series of events that could bring about the end of human life if they don’t get the band back together one more time.
It’s a refreshing change of pace to see a truly independent superhero story again, and while I loved the likes of Doom Patrol, Titans and The Punisher to name but a few, it’s sometimes tiring to see yet another tie in to these huge universes you’re forced to keep up with. Umbrella doesn’t do that, providing the viewer with a new (and pleasingly familiar for fans of the comic) group of characters, each grounded in their own imperfections with problems such as sobriety, unresolved issues of lost parents and a desire to try to find some sort of meaning in life – something anyone approaching 30 can probably relate to.
Tied up in these discussions is a show with kick-ass fight sequences, a nostalgic indie soundtrack that will have you dancing between scenes that you’ve been peeing your pants laughing at. Ellen Page absolutely owns her role, as does everyone else, minor role or not, with some surprising appearances from the likes of Mary J. Blige and an unrecognizable Kate Walsh who justify their appearances within seconds of being on-screen.
I sat down to watch one episode and before I knew it had watched half the series in a single sitting. Wonderfully addictive like the flamboyant tastes of Klaus Hargreeves, the Umbrella Academy is the first stage of a new era of lesser-known superhero stories to take the stage promoting great stories, great representation and offering up a new flavor which isn’t the “Coke or Pepsi” choice of DC or Marvel.
The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
Indy Tweets from @smokingpunkindy