Starring – Ellen Page, Tom Hopper
Genre – Action/Adventure
Streaming Platform – Netflix
The new superhero web series by Netflix is weird and yet engaging. If that sounds like an unusual description, that is because this is an unusual show. It is an adaptation of the comics of the same name created by Gerard way, the frontman for My Chemical Romance and Gabriel Bá and has been developed for Netflix by Steve Blackman (Fargo, Altered Carbon).
The first episode of the series is pretty heavy on the exposition as it introduces us to the world of Sir Reginald Hargreeves and the Umbrella Academy, a group of 7 super powered kids that were born under unusual circumstances, who are to be raised into a team world-saving superheroes. The episode also puts on display the dysfunctional nature of this unusual family as they gather for the funeral of their father. It is made clear to the viewer that this is not a nurturing environment like the X-men, in fact Sir Reginald had addressed his “kids” by numbers only which causes all of them to grow up estranged from family and not well-adjusted as adults.
With one episode focusing on the issues plaguing each of the surviving 6 members of the group(Number Six/Ben/The Horror is dead and only appears to Klaus/Number Four). So while Number One/Luther/Spaceboy (Tom Hopper) is the golden boy with super strength, he hides a deep secret even from his adopted siblings.
Klaus/Number Four/The Séance (Robert Sheehan) has a drug problem and an ability to communicate with the dead which makes his for some very entertaining scenes. Perhaps, the most sympathetic character is Vanya/Number Seven/The White Violin (Ellen Page). As the sibling with no superpower, he has always felt inadequate and left out and Ellen Page is able to convey that pain with ease.
However the best character arc belongs to Aidan Gallagher who plays The Boy/Number Five, an unnamed time-space traveler who has returned after witnessing an apocalyptic future. He retains his 15-year-old appearance but has the world-weariness of a much older man. His return from the future kickstarts the main story as the siblings work towards preventing the apocalypse and saving the world while being pursued by assassins from the future.
There is much to love about this show. The fight scenes are very stylishly choreographed and have a lot of flair. The special effects are top-notch, especially in the scenes that have gory visual gags. The music is wonderfully weird which help ties even the most eccentric scenes together. The writing is uneven at times but the wicked humor makes up for some of it. There are some half baked storylines, for example one involving a love interest for Vanya, that could have been executed better. The show also loses some momentum along the way but the last few episodes are very engaging, making the journey worthwhile. The season does finish on a cliffhanger which creates some mystery at the end and sets up the series nicely for a future potential season 2.
This is not an X-men rip-off and is in fact an antithesis of the X-Men universe. Netflix has cancelled several of its marvel shows and needed a series that could fit that niche. The freshman season of the Umbrella Academy does a very impressive albeit slightly uneven job of presenting its bid to be that replacement. This is one show that is definitely binge-worthy.