Movie and TV adaptations of beloved comic books are certainly having a moment right now, and Netflix has just greenlit a show based on one of the most unusual comics of all. The streaming giant has scooped up The Umbrella Academy, a 10-episode series inspired by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba's award-winning graphic novel. Even more excitingly, Steve Blackman (of Fargo fame) has signed on as showrunner.
The Umbrella Academy is a twisted superhero story set in an alternate reality where John F. Kennedy was never assassinated. It stars a dysfunctional family of seven superheroes, brought up by the alien being known as the Monocle, and the story has inspired a run of top-quality comics and graphic novels. The first limited series won the Eisner Award for Best Finite Series/Limited Series in 2008, and it has continued to garner acclaim ever since.
The Umbrella Academy TV show promises to be a series like nothing else we've seen before. Cindy Holland, Vice President of Original Content for Netflix, explained:
"What drew us to The Umbrella Academy is that it’s wholly unique, visual and stylized. These aren’t the usual superheroes, and this series will embrace the singular tone of the graphic novels -- dark yet humorous, supernatural yet grounded in reality. We’re excited to see this world and introduce these unforgettable heroes to Netflix members around the globe."
She's right. Anyone who's read The Umbrella Academy will know that it has a visual style like nothing else we've seen in modern-day comics. To give you an idea, the second series — Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite — kicked off with the Eiffel Tower going berserk.
Who Are The Stars Of Umbrella Academy?
We don't yet have casting information for the series, but we can expect to see some truly unusual superheroes. The key characters in the comics we can expect to see are:
- The Monocle: The supposed 'father figure' for seven young superhumans. A world-renowned inventor and entrepreneur, he's actually an alien, and he's a cold and aloof parent. He refers to the children by number rather than by name; the number represents how useful he considers them to be.
- Spaceboy: The leader of the pack, Spaceboy is a super-strong hero whose head had to be transplanted on to the body of a Martian gorilla.
- The Kraken: A reckless and insolent child, The Kraken is a knife-thrower who can breathe underwater and has a deep desire to prove himself. He's essentially the Batman figure of The Umbrella Academy; a brooding and arrogant hero who goes on patrols to hunt down petty criminals.
- The Rumor: Able to manipulate reality every time she tells a lie, The Rumor has an unconsummated love for Spaceboy.
- The Séance: A fascinatingly morbid character, The Séance possesses the ability to summon the spirits of the dead.
- The Boy: A time-traveler whose body seems to be stuck in time at the age of 10, The Boy is considered to be the perfect assassin, as he has the DNA of the best killers in history.
- The Horror: Able to summon monsters from other dimensions, The Horror normally carries these under his skin, so is frequently drawn with tentacles emerging from his body. The Horror died (in undisclosed circumstances), but his spirit seems to be a constant presence for the rest of the team.
- The White Violin: For years, The White Violin seemed to have no powers; gradually, though, we learned that she was the most powerful of the whole team. Her abilities were suppressed by the Monocle when she was just an infant. She can release destructive waves of energy from her violin; a single note can topple a building or slit a throat.
It's refreshing to see a concept as creative and original as The Umbrella Academy find a home on #Netflix. The streaming service has been making a name for itself with its successful Marvel series, but now Netflix is clearly casting its net far wider, and embracing some of the most celebrated comics by smaller publishers too.