Comic Book: The Umbrella Academy

The Umbrella Academy is a Comic Book written by Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance and drawn by Gabriel Bá from Dark Horse Comics.

One day, 43 extraordinary children were all spontaneously born on the same day. Of these children, seven are adopted by the inventor (and space alien) Reginald Hargreeves and groomed into superheroes. However, Hargreeves does not prove to be a good father figure and his inability to give emotional warmth to the children, along his unwavering ambition to push them to their limits, inevitably scars them all as adults. In many ways The Umbrella Academy is both a deconstruction and Affectionate Parody of Gold and Silver Age comics, joyfully embracing absurd and wonderful classics like talking monkeys and space squids while exploring the real psychological effects of being groomed from birth to be a hero in the care of a wealthy man of intrigue.

The main series takes place after Hargreeves's death where the team reunite at his funeral. There are currently two complete story lines The Apocalypse Suite and Dallas as well as a handful of one shot stories, all of which are now available on the internet.

Unrelated to the Umbrella Corporation.

Tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Reginald Hargreeves. He would chide his adopted sons and daughters if they called him 'Dad'. In one story, he sicced a murderous supervillain on The Rumor when she lied about sneaking out for the night to see a boy. Jerkass doesn't begin to cover it.
    Vanya: "Dad.. ? I mean, Mr. Monocle, sir? Why can't I play with the others?"
    Reginald: "Well number seven... there's just nothing special about you."
    Vanya: "Oh."
  • Alien Blood: Following Vanya's transformation into the White Violin, she has grey blood.
  • Alternate Landmark History: The series reveals that the Eiffel Tower is a deadly robot built by...zombie Gustave Eiffel.
  • Asian Babymama: The Seance makes a baby with an Asian Babymama. You don't see said Asian Babymama, just the baby, and the Asian Babygrandmama with whom he leaves the baby.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Gustave Eiffel (designer of the Eiffel Tower) was apparently a Mad Scientist Zombie-Robot.
    Luther: And just as I expected? Zombie Robot Gustave Eiffel!
    Ben: Alive! After all these years—!!
  • Bizarre Baby Boom: The premise. The same year "Tusslin' Tom" Gurney knocked out the space-squid from Rigel X-9 with a flying atomic elbow "...forty three extraordinary children were born to mostly single women, who had shown no signs of pregnancy, in seemingly random locations around the world." A wealthy entrepreneur tracked down and adopted seven of these children to raised them as a superhero team.
  • Brown Note: In The Apocalypse Suite arc, the antagonist has constructed an orchestra of the sadistic and suicidal to play a symphony that will end the world. Similarly, The White Violin is capable of making heads explode and bodies tear themselves apart by just barely scraping her strings.
  • Captain Ersatz:
    • The Kraken is Wolverine without claws, although his power makes him a parody of Aquaman and his popular criticism of having a rather pointless power.
    • Officer Lupo is basically Commissioner Gordon.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The Séance. Although admitably it's his constant use of drugs that cause him to be as crazy as he is, he still qualifies.
    "Ever wonder what a vegetable thinks about? Firecrackers... bee stings... happy face eggs."
  • Determinator: The Kraken. Despite having the near-useless power to breathe underwater, he's one tough mother, and probably the most formidable and successful crime-fighter on the team.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: The Seance, but in an odd forgettable comment in the Dallas arc, it's because he can't use his powers when wearing them. Granted, this does come from a psychotic assassin in a dog head, but in that time, Seance doesn't really try to fight back, so his powers are probably at least inhibited.
  • Domino Mask: The whole family, until they disband, even though they don't have secret identities. The Rumor puts on the mask during the first story to help her get in the groove of being a superhero again.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Well, you couldn't known who is that character by the moment, but you would remember seeing The White Violin, aka Vanya near Hargreeves's rushed up funeral in the second issue cover... but it doesn't really happen in the comic. The funeral happens, but she's not present.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: One of Reginald Hargreeves' inventions was a way to give chimpanzees sentience. They show up everywhere as detectives, soliders, hobos and even one hooker. One of these intellegient chimps is Hargreeves' assistant, Pogo. note 
  • Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods:
    • Opens up the first issue with a man wrestling a giant space squid. For no real reason.
    • And then there's the character Horror, who's actually pretty squidish himself, for obvious reasons.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: The Rumor's hair gets longer and shaggier between the end of The Apocalypse Suite and where Dallas picks up.
  • Famously Mundane, Fictionally Magical: The series shows the Eiffel Tower being a spacecraft/weapon piloted by Zombie Robot Gustav Eiffel.
  • Freudian Excuse: Arguably every member of The Umbrella Academy, and definitely Vanya. Hargreeves is a dick and terrible parent, for instance his habit of sorting his children by their apparent worth.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Vanya is transformed into a nude White Violin.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Vanya Hargreeves. Vanya is a diminutive of Ivan in Russia: a male name, although in Brazil it's became a girl's name.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: In the first story, they fight against a weaponized Eiffel tower controlled by... Zombie Robot Gustave Eiffel.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: This trope is inverted but nonetheless explored in the Dallas arc, when it is learned that saving JFK from being assassinated would result in world-wide destruction via nuclear war.
  • "How Did You Know?" "I Didn't.": Issue 1 of the Dallas arc features the Lincoln memorial statue come to life and terrorize the District of Columbia. To stop it Rumor says "Mr. President. I heard a rumor you were assassinated." This conjures up a statue of John Wilkes Booth who shoots the rampaging Lincoln. Hargreeves arrives on the scene and ask how she knew that would work. She replied "I didn't."
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Vanya, who really wishes that she superpowers beyond playing the violin really well. This is largely because her father figure and some of her adoptive siblings at the titular academy frequently put her down for it. It turns out that the abuse was her father figure's attempt to hide the fact that Vanya had enourmous potential as a Musical Assassin, potential so great she could destroy the world if she tried. She does try.
  • Infallible Babble: This is the Rumor's power, anything she says, preceded with "I heard a rumor that" or something to the same degree, automatically becomes true.
  • Informed Flaw: Alison, The Rumor, is described as being narcissistic. Now, we have never seen her being narcissistic on her adult ages, nor on her younger years. That she lost her narcissism growing up, could be acceptable.
  • Killed Off for Real: As of the start of the series, The Horror is dead, and will stay dead for the time being. While it hasn't be stated how he died, the only thing that reminds us he's dead is the statue that is (or was, as of the end of The Apocalypse Suite) on the garden outside the mansion. The preview story, however, shows him alive and well, fighting alongside his siblings.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: The Horror is pretty much the embodiment of this. He's said to have several monsters hidden under his skin. Whether or not they're from space or another dimension or something else has yet to be stated. However, according to some people in universe, they're horrible and disgusting.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: In Issue 6 of the Dallas arc, it's revealed that Number 1 and Number 5 are biological siblings (they were adopted siblings before this point).
  • Psycho for Hire: Hazel and Cha-Cha. A diner chef makes the mistake of saying they'd have to chop off his arms and legs to get his secret pie recipe. They do just that. All while wearing adorable furry masks!
  • Reality Warper: The Rumor has the ability to tell lies that come true, which she usually does by saying "I heard a rumor that...". As her power is speech-based, it can be disabled if anything happens to her voice.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Number Five is an eighty-year-old man trapped in a ten-year-old's body. There's no telling how old he really is, however, as his aging was halted by The Temps Aertanalis.
  • Rent-a-Zilla: The giant rampaging Abraham Lincoln at the beginning of the Dallas.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Subverted. Mrs. Hargreeves has a human face but a transparent body and obviously artificial limbs. However it appears she also has a full system of working organs, which can be seen through her transparent body.
  • Running Gag: "Televator's broken."
  • Summon Bigger Fish: The Rumor's solution to a giant berserker Abraham Lincoln statue: A giant John Wilkes Booths statue, complete with a stone derringer. Afterwards, the Booths statue is seen escaping, with the police chasing after him.
  • Superhero School: The titular institute, though its seven students are never shown in a classroom or studying.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: The Kraken can only, as creator Gerard Way said, "hold his breath and throw knives." He also said he was "fucking useless" and compared him to Aquaman. Ouch.
  • Surprise Pregnancy: Exaggerated in The Umbrella Academy, when 43 women who hadn't been pregnant to begin with suddenly all give birth all the same time with no warning, right in the middle of whatever it was they had been doing at the time.
  • Talking with Signs: The Rumor, for most of the Dallas arc, communicates on a notepad, mostly with scathing sarcasm. She gets better just in time to use her power to resolve the plot, assassinate JFK, and save the world.
  • Tentacle Rope: Benjamin Hargreeves AKA The Horror, who possesses tentacles coming out from his stomach. His generally sweet demeanor meant that there were no Naughty Tentacles, and not even any proper Combat Tentacles, instead he settled for grabbing and constricting his foes. Or more often than not, just using his tentacles as handy rope for pulling and holding onto things.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Hazel and Cha-Cha. They like the simple things in life. Candy, cookies, pie. And dismembering innocent people with hack saws while plotting nuclear Armageddon.
  • Time Police: The Temps Aeternalis. It seems like their main function is to carry out assassinations, or as they call them, "corrections". Their purpose is to maintain the status quo.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Seance's powers only work when he's barefoot. He apparently collects shoes.
  • Weight Woe: Luther Hargreeves had gotten out-of-shape between the first and second volumes of the series from doing nothing but eating cookies and watching infomercials all day out of depression.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?:
    • The Kraken's power is apparently the ability to hold his breath forever. It probably makes him the world's best swimmer and a top athlete, but it doesn't quite compare to, say, re-shaping reality at will. He compensates with excellent knife-fighting skills, to the point where he takes down a pack of Vietnamese vampires with a pair of knives. Gerard Way actually said in a lecture at SVA that he made him "fucking useless" on purpose, but at the same time also said that, in a world where no one else had super powers, something as simple as that is a big deal.

      Hargreeves, for all his intense dislike of the boy, ranked the Kraken as #2 among the children, placing him right under his favorite pupil and above the Reality Warper, the psychic, the time traveler, the boy with a Lovecraftian Superpower, and the White Violin in that order.
    • Vanya has the power to… play the violin really well. She ends up being so upset over this (plus a good amount of ostracization and emotional abuse from her peers and father figure) that she eventually becomes the main villain and, using a deadly violin, becomes a Musical Assassin powerful enough to destroy the world.
  • Who Shot JFK?:
    • The Apocalypse Suite alludes to Number Five being involved in the Kennedy assassination, but the point is never elaborated on.
    • Dallas reveals that Number Five was sent by the Temps Aeternalis to kill Kennedy, but he changed his mind and instead killed the other assassins. Later (in his personal timeline), he goes back to that day to stop his past self from stopping the assassination. He does so by having his teammate The Rumor pose as Mrs. Kennedy and use her reality-warping powers to kill JFK.
  • You Are Number Six: The seven adopted children who form The Umbrella Academy respond to their respective numbers up until they receive real names and proper superhero codes name, respectively. Number Six himself dies very, very early on in the series.