Thursday, 14 April 2011

Review - Umbrella Academy: Dallas

I think the first review I ever wrote for Comics On The Ration was Umbrella Academy Volume 1 and now I've finally managed to track down an affordable copy of the follow-up. I bought this for £4.40 (plus two quid postage) on eBay which is pretty much half the price Amazon are selling it for... so Paul at least should be happy.

I think I enjoyed this even more than the first volume. I've always been a sucker for JFK stories, and if you told me Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba had found an ingenious time travel twist on that infamous assassination, this is exactly the sort of plot I'd have imagined. Not to say it's predictable - I'm just surprised nobody's ever written this particular story before. Basically, in Umbrella Academy world, JFK survived that fateful journey through Dallas... but as a result, the whole world is about to die in a nuclear explosion. Which it does, at the end of issue #4. Fortunately, the UA are already on the case, heading back in time to prevent this eradication event ever happening... by ensuring a more familiar outcome to November 22nd 1963.

Of course, there's much more going on than just that. Along the way we meet some genuinely frightened cartoon-headed hitmen, a villain who takes Mysterio's goldfish bowl helmet to its illogical conclusion (there's a fish swimming round in there), God (an aged cowboy), and a bunch of other memorably freaky characters. It's extremely fast-paced and though there isn't much space for quiet character moments, the creators still manage to give their creations both individuality and depth. The tone is sometimes comic, sometimes frightening, occasionally mind-boggling. Once again I'm reminded of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol, and I don't compliment much higher than that.

Umbrella Academy is a book that rewards repeated reading - there's so much going on, it'd be impossible to catch it all first time. Fortunately Gabriel Ba's art is so easy on the eye you don't mind revisiting it. Volume 3 was announced back in 2009 but sadly there's still no sign of it - Way's obviously too busy with his rock star day job. Which is a shame. I might even be persuaded to pay full price for the next one...


  1. I really want to read this but I still haven't read the first volume. I'd better start trawling eBay now!

  2. I love Umbrella Academy.

    There was a Kennedy time travel episode of Red Dwarf, but it didn't have exactly the same plot as this.

  3. I finally read this (and the first UA volume) last week. I'm not going to review them, because you already have, Rol, but I also thought they were great. I honestly couldn't name a single My Chemical Romance song and had no idea who Gerard Way was until I read about this series, but he did a really good job here. I also have a soft spot for JFK stories - I used to love the JFK movie - but have been firmly convinced that Lee Harvey Oswald really did kill him ever since I saw an excellent documentary on the Kennedy assasination on the BBC a few years ago (which tore apart Stone's film, but I still quite like it).