I had told myself I would wait until I had caught up on The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion before I’d watch the Netflix series. Then I grew impatient. And accidentally binged the whole thing. So. Here we are.
Created by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Ba, The Umbrella Academy comics follow a group of seven unusual children, sought out and adopted by a wealthy man that believes these children will all develop extraordinary gifts and be able to save the world. What makes them all so special? Well, for starters, they were all born to women around the world on the same day, at the same time, and… to women that had not been pregnant at the start of the day.
The first two six-issue limited series, The Apocalypse Suite and Dallas, helped fill us in for most of what I think anyone would need to know to watch the show, given that the first season seems to be a blend of the two.
I had seen a lot of mixed opinions: people that weren’t familiar with the source material loved it. People that were devoted fans mostly seemed to enjoy, but had their complaints. The main problems I saw people having were: not liking some character costuming changes, being unsure of the filler added, and a handful of other “But in the comics…” sort of complaints.
Which, hey – I get it. I’ve been there, too. But the approach I took with the series is this: This is not an easy to adapt story without 1) adding things and 2) changing a few minor details.
Consider this: You have limited source material. Twelve issues, if you consider this is basically two mini series woven together. Twelve issues that, in some places, drags on random things, and in other places rushes through rather quickly in their original form. Hazel and Cha-Cha aren’t in the comics nearly as much, and they give the show an extra bit of fun aside from the Apocalypse and family drama. Think of, if you’re familiar with the comics or show, what ends up causing the Apocalypse – in the comics, it’s almost unbelievable how quick it just happens, while there is an understandable build up that happens in the show. I think trying to handle it the other way would have went over poorly for the viewers.
Often, I think people forget that you cannot often directly adapt word for word, or page for page. That’s why they’re called adaptations.
Now that I’ve gotten that bit out of the way, what did I think?
I loved it.
This is such a fun, quirky, different sort of comic, with familiar themes, and I think that spirit translated well into their Netflix representation. The cast was superb, and I’m not sure you could have cast anyone better for Number Five or Klaus, even though the rest of the cast did an excellent job on their own. We were given more depth to these characters, and what makes them who they are.
The effects were pretty solid. Like, holy smokes, have you SEEN how good Pogo looks? If not, Google him. Now.
I thoroughly enjoyed every episode, and found myself eager to see what would happen next, even though I had known the basic story line already. And now that I binged it all, I’m bummed I don’t have more to watch. Which makes me sort of want to watch it again, immediately.
I think most of the changes and additions made it stronger, and gave a better background to some events and characters than we would have had just going on the source material. It’s an excellent representation, in my mind at least, of it’s comic book background.
Have you read the comics or checked out the first season on Netflix? What do you think?