Netflix’s newest series, “The Umbrella Academy,” is not your little brother’s superhero series. It isn't horrible, dark and gritty either.
“The Umbrella Academy” is based on an award-winning comic book series penned by Gerard Way and artist Gabriel Ba. Remember Gerard Way? He was the lead singer of My Chemical Romance. He was the teen idol of every Hot Topic/Spencer’s shopper from the mid-2000s. He created a weird, dark and whimsical world. The Netflix series takes this and runs with it.
The show follows a family of seven children adopted by a billionaire. The adopted seven were born under supernatural circumstances. Forty-three women birthed babies that they hadn’t been pregnant with the day before. The show only gets weirder. Six of the seven adopted children have superpowers.
Reginald Hargreeves is no Daddy Warbucks. He’s no Professor X, either. He forces the children to become a superhero team to save the world. The show begins with his seven emotionally tortured children returning home when he dies. Well, five of them do. Number 5 has time traveled forward into the apocalypse. Number 6 is dead.
Number 5 returns from the future as his 13-year-old self but has lived the life of a 58-year-old man. Number 5 warns the family that in eight days the world will end and only the Umbrella Academy can stop it. The show continues to go off the proverbial rails from there.
Many of the characters no longer use their powers after Hargreeves dies. Any explanation of these powers would reveal too much of the plot. First-time viewers are sure to enjoy watching each characters eccentric powers manifest. You won’t see any powers from Number 7, Vanya, though.
Vanya’s got no powers, besides being pretty good at the violin. Vanya is mopey for most of the season. She’s played by everyone’s favorite mopey weird girl, Ellen Page. Page’s portrayal feels typecast. It could’ve only been worse if the showrunners had thrown Kristen Stewart in the role. She gets better as the season progresses and mysteries are revealed, though.
The action sequences in the show dazzle. Amazing soundtracks punctuate the fight scenes. At one point, two contract killers from the future open fire on Number 5 to the tune of Queen’s "Don’t Stop Me Now". Hazel and Cha Cha, the contract killers, make up the B-plot of the show as they try to hunt down Number 5.
The show functions best in its characters. It leans heavy on the superhero and family drama tropes from time. At times, it jumps from a scene of two characters arguing about which one their father hated more to a scene of a character pulling off an insane feat using their refound powers.
The show succeeds when it uses the whimsical and eccentric source material. It fails when it tries to be another family drama or superhero show. Watch the first season so it can be greenlit for a second one. The cliffhanger at the end of the season sets up what could be a killer of a second season. Ultimately, four stars out of five.