A series of super-heroic is not like the others, a bit perched, sometimes dark, but always encouraging.
In the end, there’s this famous mansion in the gothic style, with people that have extraordinary powers to the interior. A band of super-heroes destined to save the world from the Apocalypse… If you look at it through the small end of the telescope, Umbrella Academy looks very much like a super series, which will be lost in the middle of the DC Universe, Marvel Universe and other ArrowVerse. And yet, it is so much more than that.
Because Umbrella Academy has been designed first and foremost as a drama family. The story of a family unlikely, constituted by a mad scientist billionaire -Sir Reginald Hargreeves – who has adopted 7 of the 43 children born miraculously, one day in October 1989, while their mothers were not pregnant the minute before. These toddlers special will quickly reveal abilities out of the ordinary, then Hargreeves will raise them in the Umbrella Academy, and the cause to save the world. But a few decades later, the clan has literally exploded. The members are scattered to the four corners of the planet and not speaking. They will find themselves, despite themselves, on the day of the death of their father…
The approach of the writer and showrunner, Steve Blackman, is less surreal than that of the comics from Gerard Way. But there are the same density, the same narrative structure a little bit crazy, the same aesthetic gently dark, boosted by a few sequences SF absolutely brilliant.
Netflix has obviously bet big on this adaptation (the special effects are notably splendid), in the hope that it will become the new series phenomenon of the platform. It has all the chances to get there, because first of all it has réuassi to make the most of the characters of this academy super unhealthy. Before you jump in with both feet into the big show, the show takes the time to develop heroes endearing, as the fragile Vanya, the traumatized Klaus, the confident Allison, the brutal Diego or the colossal Luther. All of them have something exciting and fascinating to tell… and especially the awesome “Number 5”, embodied perfectly by the young Aidan Gallagher, a 15-year-old, who burst onto the screen in the skin of a little boy 50 years ago !
The other star of the Umbrella Academy, this is the story. Incredibly complex, yet so simple to follow, this tangle of storylines in crescendo. Initially frustrating, it multiplies the intrigues, mysteries, in a false pace somewhat annoying. But when she starts to unroll the thread of revelations, the series rises admirably in power and becomes almost obsessive. The drama of super-heroes turns into a series of science fiction pure and hard – until his final breath – playing with the gimmicks of the time travel, the famous “butterfly effect”, and unveiling under our eyes a world of fantasy, which makes perfect justice to the delicious extravagance of the BD. No doubt, the Umbrella Academy is more than just a series of super-hero !
Umbrella Academy, season 1 10 episodes – Available on Netflix on Friday, February 15, 2019.