I read ‘The Umbrella Academy’, the Dark Horse graphic novels by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba, back when I was in college. Immediately after that, I found myself force-feeding the comics down my friends’ throats and even buying my very own White Violin figurine.
So, when I went to the See What’s Next Asia Netflix event in Singapore a few months ago, met some of the cast members of the next Netflix Original Series, and watched a special screener of the first episode; it should be understandable that I almost cried. I honestly thought I would hate Netflix for ruining it, but that definitely was not the case. I finished watching Season 1 of ‘The Umbrella Academy’ a few weeks ago; and now that it is finally available for everyone else to watch on Netflix, I can finally draw some comparisons that you either might want to know if you haven’t read the comics yet or might want to talk about with me if you have read them:
They combined two comic book series into one season.
‘The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite’ came out in 2007, while ‘The Umbrella Academy: Dallas’ came out in 2008. In the series adaptation, Netflix combined elements from ‘Apocalypse Suite’ and elements from ‘Dallas’ into one, and they did this seamlessly.
They got the tone of the comics right.
As the emo college student that I was, the tone of the comics is one of the things that I loved about it most, and the series captures that tone beautifully. Although there are many changes in terms of character and in terms of the storyline in some points, I’m happy that they didn’t change the overall tone of the graphic novel.
The characters look very different.
In case you haven’t read the comics, the photo above shows you what each character looks like. Some of them are otherworldly, with #00.01 aka Spaceboy’s looks on display most of the time, #00.04 aka Seance floating in a lot of the scenes and constantly wearing black, #00.07 aka The White Violin actually turning into a stunning white human violin at one point. #00.03 aka Rumor also looks very, very different in the series (I miss her purple hair!!!)
The character development in the show is amazing.
Although there were many changes in terms of appearance for the characters, I gotta give it to Netflix: the character development is phenomenal. I always felt like the comics were a little bit rushed and didn’t give me enough time to really fall in love with the characters on a deeper non-superficial manner; but in the series, I found myself getting really invested in their lives because of the amazing character development. In fact, I found myself ending up really liking Spaceboy, who I never really cared much about in the comics.
The show’s music is impeccable.
Music can easily make or break a movie or a TV series; and while I wished ‘Helena’ by My Chemical Romance had played in there somewhere, I have nothing bad to say about the music because The Umbrella Academy soundtrack is ace. From the use of Phantom of the Opera in the first episode to Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ eve to ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’, everything was on point. I also loved all of the random dance numbers peppered in all throughout the show.
The show has too many romantic relationships to my liking.
Of course, nothing is perfect. While as a whole I found ‘The Umbrella Academy’ quite entertaining, especially when I stopped comparing it to the comic books, I was still annoyed by the amount of romance in it. I personally enjoy comic books for the action and the storylines and the amount of romantic relationships in the series was a bit of a downer for me. I found myself rolling my eyes a lot in the Vanya scenes. I mean: what is she, a Disney princess? :p
The ending is not the same at all.
Now here’s where I was really torn. Although they used elements from both graphic novel series of ‘The Umbrella Academy’, the series mostly follows ‘Apocalypse Suite’ in terms of its storyline. And the ending… well, it’s very different. I loved everything about the ‘Apocalypse Suite’ comics – from the way that Vanya went bad and eventually turned into The White Violin to the unexpected ending. And while the thing with #00.06 was pretty cool, I still thought the comic book ending was better. Or maybe I just really wanted to see a bullet go through her head. :p
Have you seen ‘The Umbrella Academy’ yet? Any OG readers of the comics here, as well? :)