THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY: HOTEL OBLIVION
Writer: Gerard Way
Artist: Gabriel Bá
Colorist: Nick Filardi
Letterer: Nate Piekos
Publisher: Dark Horse
Rating: 9/10 Yelp Review
Hello. There were two things that drew me to The Umbrella Academy when I flipped through the first issue I picked up from the series (Hotel Oblivion #1). One was the fact that these characters to me came across as essentially X-Men to a further degree of being messed up and a more intelligent yet highly damaging Professor X figure. The other was a guy jumping around with a big ol' gorilla body who was named Space Boy. That sentence alone is a great description of things I love from a comic or show. It hooked me so much that I had to go back and get the rest of the series before the Netflix show was released and I would fall in love with the cast’s performance. This week’s votes put me back in Gerard Way’s and Gabriel Bá’s world which had me very excited. Passing into the Spoiler threshold.
This book has a lot of characters moving around under its umbrella. Luther and Diego are traveling through the after space with some friends they meet in Tokyo. Klaus is severely drugged up and being used by a biker gang as a medium for rich people that need to speak to the dead. Allison is helping Vanya recover and regain the ability to walk again before passing her off to robot mom, who’s going to be introducing her to some...newer family members With Mom looking after Vanya now, Allison gets to team up with Number 5 as they break into a corporation that he was hired to check out. Is it crazy to think that all these stories could converge into the same plot point? Not at all, as everyone’s paths finally come together when they realize that everything they were doing boils down to one thing, their dad was a shitty person, as one of his “bright ideas” walks through a teleporting elevator.
As it turns out, all the villains our former young heroes had taken down never actually went through the standard lock-up procedures you would expect a criminal to face. No, dear old daddy Hargreeves decided to exile them all to a hotel in another dimension to live out the rest of their days with no way back. That would have been the case if a former murderous magician and his lensed companion didn’t finally find a way to escape years later, setting up the biggest hotel evacuation that didn’t result from smoke or fire. All these baddies have been cooped up in the worst hotel they could have ever imagined and now that they are back on Earth, they are taking out all that one-star yelp reviews aggression on the world. Thankfully, our heroes gather and come to the rescue like a true family, but, is it the family we all know?
Meet The Staff
If the Young Animal comics were any indication of what to expect from Gerard Way when I picked up this series, The Umbrella Academy does not disappoint. Way does an amazing job throughout this series weaving up to five different narratives that intertwined nicely at the end. All this was accomplished while not only getting us to the converging moment but still taking the time to explore each of the Hargreeves’ current issues or hang ups. I’m a world-building fan, and I love that despite reading every issue of The Umbrella Academy, I really don’t know anything about the characters of its world, yet I find that with this series, the not knowing is the best part. You are introduced to all these villains throughout this book specifically where they clearly have a history with our heroes on more than one occasion as some people mention, but we don’t need to know everything right now. The fun is exploring it when we get to it.
I heard a rumor that the art in this book is terrific. Wait, that’s not a rumor. That is true. Bá’s art is so unique to anything else I see in comics. From the varying diverse and unique designs of his characters in their body structures to the panels where his art shifts from having detailed facial expressions to those where you could draw a standard smiley face before we had the luxury of emojis to let people know how we felt. Also those inks. I love the heavy use of them in this series. Bá’s shifting art plays together nicely and with Filardi as the colorist, we get a setting that is less consisting of bright vibrant colors and one that fits an alternate timeline that would feel more at home in the sixties. Despite what I just said though, these two give a very nice surprise in a Kirby-esque style of cosmic art that is just an absolute treat to the eyes. This staff isn’t complete without Nate Piekos’ lettering skills really doing wonders on these pages, enhancing the experience. Every sound effect came with such great designs to reflect what the world was hearing. Fitting some of the larger dialogue in smaller panels has to be a real challenge, but Pieko pulled it off well enough to where it wasn’t a struggle to read.
Hotel Oblivion was a blast. I mean, this is a series where I could have fun spending time covering every panel and each character that pops up and what my thoughts are. Way has created a world that to me comes across as so rich yet we haven’t even experienced it yet. It leaves me with questions but in a more exciting way as I turn each page and read each issue to learn more. You never know if you are going to get to dive into more about the Hargreeves’ children and what their journey will be, or the characters that pop up in the world of The Umbrella Academy. Either way, this is one series I will continue to check-in at. Goodbye.