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Umbrella Academy: Dallas #6 – Review

Gerard Way (Writer), Gabriel Ba (Artist), Dave Stewart (Colors)

The Story: It all comes down to Dallas. After various altercations with the Temps Aeternalis, the crazed killers Hazel and Cha-Cha, and a talking goldfish, Number 5 and his “family” have to stop a past version of himself from stopping the Kennedy assassination.

Trust me, it makes more sense if you read the whole thing.

The Good: Umbrella Academy hardly disappoints; while the writing is a little off-kilter in parts, Gerard Way proves he can write a strong narrative and bring the characters to life. The content is distinctive, hyper-violent, and bizarrely funny. It’s almost as if Douglas Adams and Chuck Palahniuk got together to write a comic.

Getting the series for Gabriel Ba’s art alone, however, isn’t a bad idea at all. His distinctive character designs really flesh the strange shape of the universe out; to the point where I think that he may be the only artist in comics who could’ve done this series.

All in all, it’s a fitting end to the Dallas arc, and the twisted turn-abouts will definitely please the die-hard Umbrella Academy fans.

The Bad: While many of us in comics are used to the kind of schizophrenic narratives that characterize usual continuity, Umbrella Academy’s continuity is a kind of patchwork quilt with pieces missing all over, thanks to the delightful use of time travel. It’s a book for people of a particular mindset and sense of humor. My advice? Go check out the first collection, The Apocalypse Suite, and see if that appeals to you. If it does, you’re in luck. If not, you’ll probably be unable to stand the book. Also, if you’re unable to get over the stigma of sharing comic book tastes with scores of teenage girls (due in great part to Gerard Way’s day job and ensuing fan base), you may want to steer clear of Umbrella Academy entirely.

The Grade : B+

-Brian St. Claire

Umbrella Academy: Dallas #5 – Review

By Gerard Way (writer), Gabriel Ba (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist)

The Story: After returning from the dead in the last issue, the Seance teleports himself, Kraken, and Spaceboy back in time in an effort to prevent Number 5 from carrying out his mission and assassinating President Kennedy.  When the brothers arrive three years too early however, they are forced to bide their time…in Vietnam.

The Good: If you’ve been following this latest installment of the Umbrella Academy from the start, by now you’re more than familiar with the qualities that have made this such an entertaining title.  Every issue is packed with bizarre and creative ideas, like when Kraken and his squad are ambushed in the jungle by Vietnamese vampires while transporting the mummy of the country’s last great emperor.  You know that Ba’s art is some of the finest, most energized work out there, and is the perfect vehicle for bringing Way’s imagination to life.  And finally, you’ve undoubtedly develop a newfound admiration for Dave Stewart’s brilliant color design.  I can honestly say his work here has been top notch, and is easily one of the reasons I keep buying these comics.  I’ve never followed a colorist’s work before, but in his case I’d make an exception.

The Not So Good: Overall, I’d say Way’s writing on this storyline is not as strong as it was on the first one.  Sure, there are some great ideas present here, but they can only carry so far if there isn’t a strong plot present to strengthen them.  And speaking of the plot (which wasn’t even disclosed until halfway through the story), the idea of the Umbrella Academy trying to prevent Kennedy’s assassination, while not flat out boring, is definitely underwhelming.  I feel like Way is trying to convince me that this is something important that I should be deeply invested in, but I just can’t seem to care enough.

Conclusion: I’m buying this comic for the art, the color, and the little bits of weirdness that are thrown in for good measure, but the story thus far does little to excite or entertain the way I hoped it would, and I question if that will change by the last issue.

Grade:  C

Tony Rakittke

The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #1 (of 6) – Review

By Gerard Way (story), Gabriel Ba (art), Dave Stewart (colors)

The Story: Picking up some time after the conclusion of the first mini-series, this new story looks in on the Hargreeves clan to see what they’ve been up to since successfully averting the apocalypse.  Each member has gone their separate way, with some like Spaceboy content to sit around the house watching TV and eating cookies, and others like the Seance growing quite fond of their newfound celebrity.  Number 5 has other things to worry about though, as he is assaulted by a legion of masked commandos called the Temps Aeternalis, an organization that he may have worked for while lost in time.

The Good: How about the fact that we’re finally getting more Umbrella Academy?  This title has proven to be one of the most imaginative, delightfully unusual stories I’ve read in a long time.  From the flashback scene of the children’s fight with the Lincoln Monument to the final battle between Number 5 and the Temps Aeternalis commandos, this series is brimming with mad, wonderful ideas.  There is a great energy in Ba’s art that captures both the quiet and dramatic moments with ease when it’s brought to life by Dave Stewart’s crisp palette of colors.

The Not So Good: My only complaint was that this was a necessarily slow issue, intended to take a moment’s rest from the battle before throwing the members of the Academy back into the middle of the new conflict.  I’m okay with that, provided we see more action and plot in subsequent issues.

Conclusion: Stories like The Umbrella Academy are why I read comics.  Visually splendid and bursting with crazy, inventive energy, this book will reward readers with ideas and images they’ve never seen before.  I can’t wait to see where Way and Ba go from here!

Grade: B+

-Tony Rakittke

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