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Gerard Way (yes, that Gerard Way) has always loved comic books. He and Gabriel Bá launched the first issue of The Umbrella Academy in the fall of 2007, and I first read the comics a few years later. V had copies of both The Apocalypse Suite and Dallas, and let me borrow them. I was instantly hooked.

February 15th saw the release of a live-action adaptation of The Umbrella Academy, and as of last Monday night, I’ve finished my first run-through of season one. Holy god damn, that was amazing.

The story follows an unconventional family. Years ago, several dozen children were born on the same day, with none of their mothers having shown any previous signs that they were pregnant. Wealthy eccentric Sir Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven of them, six of whom demonstrated incredible superpowers. Together, the children fought crime as the Umbrella Academy. That was then. Before Ben died. Before #5 went missing. Before Luther departed for the moon.

Now, Sir Reginald has died, and the surviving children have come home to pay their respects, but are interrupted as the long-lost #5 makes an unexpected reappearance. He claims he’s been in the future, and that he’s come back to help the Umbrella Academy stop the apocalypse, which is now only a few days away.

Given that Way and Bá created an intensely bizarre world together, but it’s a beautiful framework for the Netflix adaptation to be built upon, and build it does. As they prepare for the impending end of the world, the Hargreeves siblings bond and bicker, healing some old wounds and inflicting new ones. Luther attempts to lead as he once did, but can’t conceal that he’s not the same person he was before he left for the moon. Diego tries to maintain his activities as a local vigilante, but a previous relationship with Detective Eudora Patch complicates things. Allison, despite her celebrity status, struggles with her recent divorce and separation from her daughter. Klaus battles addiction and ghosts of his past. #5 is adjusting to reverting to his thirteen-year-old body and finding a way to cope with his PTSD. Ben is still dead. And Vanya, the “normal” one of the family, just wants a place to belong.

The casting of the characters couldn’t have been more spot-on. Robert Sheehan (Klaus) and Ellen Page (Vanya) aren’t strangers to superhero universes (Sheehan starred in the early seasons of Misfits and Page played Kitty Pryde in multiple X-Men films). They’re joined by a stellar cast, including Cameron Britton and Mary J. Blige as Hazel and Cha-Cha, a pair of time travelling assassins who are sent to ensure that the apocalypse takes place as scheduled.

The Umbrella Academy‘s soundtrack is killer too, as should be expected of a series with Gerard Way at the head. From a solo dance party scene featuring Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” through #5’s fight scene set to “Istanbul, Not Constantinople” by They Might Be Giants to Way’s own cover of “Hazy Shade of Winter” in the closing credits of the final episode, it’s pitch perfect.

Over the course of 10 episodes, you get more character development than we’ve seen in the comics (so far, but with story arc #3, Hotel Oblivion, we’re starting to see more, and Way has mentioned several more planned story arcs). Considering the relatively sparse nature of the original plot of The Apocalypse Suite, I’m happy to see that the showrunners have blended some elements of Dallas into season one, giving us a far more well-rounded bit of story. I don’t doubt that Netflix will pick this one up for a second season, and I look forward to seeing my favorite dysfunctional super-family again soon.

 

“Leave this to me. I’m British. I know how to queue.” 

One of the best things about my library is the fact that I can put things on hold, and they’ll be delivered promptly for pickup whenever they become available. It’s like Netflix for books. Even new releases can be placed on hold before they physically arrive in the library system. This means that I can track the upcoming books, order them, and get in a queue for things before they’re in stores. Now, granted, everyone in the library system has this ability, but few people utilize it to the fullest. I like to use it to keep up with some of my favorite new manga series. I’m also around fifth in line for a DVD copy of Game of Thrones, and I am thrilled. I didn’t watch any of the episodes when they aired, for two reasons. One, I’m too cheap to pay for HBO, and two, I wanted to finish reading all of the available books before I started the show. Now I can sit down and watch the whole thing.

Speaking of television, has anyone seen the BBC series Sherlock yet? It’s in my instant queue, and as soon as I can dedicate a few hours to it, I’m going to power through. It’s three episodes, each about an hour and a half long, and from all of the reviews I’ve heard/read, it’s absolutely genius. I’ll let you know my verdict, but I can only imagine the power of a show about a modern version of Sherlock Holmes starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. I absolutely love Sherlock Holmes anyway, and I’m quite happy to see that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work is getting so much attention right now.

Since getting back from my trip, I have started a new schedule at work. This has several benefits, most notably the fact that I am now earning partial benefits. I have more hours each week, a slight pay raise, and the same awesome people to work with. Yet another advantage: I’ve got the same schedule every week, instead of my old alternating schedule. My girlfriend and I can carpool three out of my five work days, saving both of us a lot of wear and tear on cars, and money on gas. All in all, it’s a very good thing. Things are looking up. I’m still hunting for a second part-time job, but I’m also starting to be brave and send out emails to the big publishers and submitting short stories to various publications. Needless to say, there’s a lot to do in the near future. Good thing I have plenty of new TV and books to read, and things to write. Look forward to a new writing challenge entry, coming soon to a blog near you.