Umbrella Academy Article Pic

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite (2008)

Written by: Gerard Way

Art by: Gabriel Ba

Let me tell you a story, an unbelievable story with romance, betrayal, mystery.

Once upon a time, I went to the book store and bought a graphic novel called The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite.  I really enjoyed reading it. Nothing else happened. Turns out there wasn’t actually any romance, betrayal, or mystery involved.

The End.

Okay, that story sucked. Thankfully though, the story I bought definitely didn’t suck. When it comes to graphic novels, The Umbrella Academy was my gateway drug. It got me hooked and no amount of rehab can help.


If you don’t talk to your children about graphic novels, who will?

Today, I am the dealer, trying to push The Umbrella Academy onto you and everyone you love. Come on kid, I promise you’ll enjoy it! A used copy is less that three dollars on That’s ridiculously cheap, you can even look at a sample! Need more persuading, eh? Fine then. Here’s three reasons you should buy The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite.

1. It’s Written by Gerard Way: “Yeah, I know, you already mentioned that at the beginning of the article,” is the statement you’re probably beaming into my brain via telepathy right now. First of all, how in the world did you do that? What kind of freakish mutant are you? Second of all, I’m bringing it up again on purpose! Gerard Way is the former front-man of the now defunct rock band: My Chemical Romance, otherwise known as the best darn band in the entire world! 


And they thought I was emo before MCR broke up…

However, before founding My Chemical Romance, Gerard initially pursued a career in art. So, when he wrote the first issue of The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite in the year 2007, it was less of a bold experiment than a logical digression. Even if you don’t like his music (and if not then die! Die, you monster! Sorry…that was uncalled for,) you can’t deny that Gerard has a stygian flair for dramatics and an impeccable style. Those two things work quite well in graphic novels! Now that I think about it, all of My Chemical Romance’s albums had a central concept of sorts: whether it was star-crossed lovers on the run from their enemies, a cancer patient’s experiences in this life and the one beyond, or a gang of post-apocalyptic rabble rousers battling an evil corporation. Gerard has been telling stories all this time! Intense, bloody, visceral stories! The Umbrella Academy is the first one that you can actually see and not just hear.

 2. Super Hero Absurdity at it’s Finest: The Umbrella Academy is so quirky that Zooey Deschanel wants to ride in a swan boat with it while singing folk versions of 90’s pop hits. The Umbrella Academy is so brutal that Anastasia Steele wants it to tie her up and help her work through her considerable daddy issues.

riding crop


The Umbrella Academy is many things but at it’s core, it is the story of a dysfunctional family. Think of it as Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums meets the X-Men.

After being born through a mysterious case of “immaculate conception,” seven gifted children are adopted by millionaire Reginald Hargreeves; a world-famous inventor/entrepreneur who also happens to secretly be a space alien. His goal is to train them to be super-heroes and use their abilities to protect the earth. Over time though, friction builds between the young heroes, exacerbated by their foster father’s loveless and militaristic parenting. They end up disbanding and lose contact with one another. However, when Hargreeves dies, the estranged heroes reconnect at his funeral and find themselves grappling (almost literally) with the past when the robotic minions of a defeated villain awaken for revenge, and one of their own siblings transforms into a weapon of mass destruction wielding nothing but a violin!


The Umbrella Academy, from left to right: Vanya, Number Five, Séance, The Rumor, Kraken and Spaceboy. I think Gerard Way likes the color black.

It may seem like whole super-heroes mythos has been done to death, especially in recent years, but The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite mischievously subverts the genre to become something highly original. That said, there’s only one way to know for sure if the story will appeal to you personally. Just read this textual litmus test: “The Umbrella Academy battle the Eiffel Tower after it goes haywire and starts wreaking havoc on Paris, only to discover it’s being piloted by evil, robot-zombie Gustave Eiffel.” If you think that sounds hilarious, awesome or “hilarsome,” then I have good news sir or madam, you’ve found your new favorite graphic novel. The levels of strangeness are always at a lethal dose.

3. The Artwork is Downright Gorgeous: Much like Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, artist Gabriel Ba has a very singular style. It’s fluid, dynamic and full of motion; (CRAZY METAPHOR ALERT) a Picasso painting riding on the back of a dolphin underwater! Way’s writing is complimented by Ba’s art which is in turn complimented by Dave Stewart’s coloring. Neon street-signs illuminate your face from the page. Arterial spray pops like fireworks. Shadows lay heavy like clumps of moss. The vibrant colors screw both thumbs into your eyeballs and refuse to let go, pushing harder and harder! I mean that in the best way possible. Stewart also has a unique method of filling the backgrounds with kaleidoscopic layers of different color hues, almost as if he’s stacking blocks. This creates an interesting visual effect and electrifies even the most mundane panels.

Just take a look at this two-page spread for part three:

part 3

The ground here is a great example of Stewart’s “stacking technique.”

Mmmmwa! I can’t praise the artwork enough.


In Conclusion: I think my point has been made, so I’m finally going to shut up and leave you with one final snippet.


*canned sitcom laughter.* Oh Séance, you so silly.

Thanks for reading!


Where you can purchase The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite:

and of course



The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite. Dark Horse: Oregon, 2008.