Kurt's Reviews > The Umbrella Academy, Vol. 1: The Apocalypse Suite

The Umbrella Academy, Vol. 1 by Gerard Way
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's review
May 30, 2012

really liked it
Recommended to Kurt by: Matt
Read from May 28 to 30, 2012

This is definitely a bizarre story, and at times I thought the weirdness would overwhelm me, but I'm happy that I pushed through and got to enjoy the story to its conclusion. Way, who is more famous for the band My Chemical Romance than as a comic book writer, clearly knows his way around a superhero comic, as his comedic timing is perfect, as are his decisions to foreshadow or obscure, or to knock the reader over the head with some ultra-gory violence with only a few clues as to whether it should be scary or funny (the answer is usually both). In contrast to the familiar superhero team book structure, with a good explanation of each team member and his/her abilities, Way just kinda dumps the reader into his world, and by the end I still wasn't sure what each kid's superpowers were - at first this frustrated me, but when I saw what a deliberate choice it was on Way's part, I had to respect it and accept my confusion as the intended response.

As a superhero story, this works. Kids (in the flashbacks) leap around blowing stuff up, and in the present-day sequences, they do similar things as adults. There are scary bad guys and off-the-wall supporting characters, and the story never really gives too much away about how it's going to end. The book delves a bit deeper, though, really teasing out sibling rivalry questions and feelings of inadequacy (the most compelling story arc is the poor girl who spends her whole life believing that she's the only sibling without powers - doesn't every family above a certain size have at least one of those siblings?). The tender emotional moments are all the more shocking for the way they weave into the zany hyperkinetic flow of the regular story.

This is not a book for everyone. It's truly weird, in as many ways as I can possibly warn a future reader. But it's undeniably special, and I'm a fan.
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