Gerard Way / Gabriel Ba - The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite (Cover Artwork)

Gerard Way / Gabriel Ba

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite (2008)

Dark Horse

"...And I eagerly await the trade paperback" was the sentence I ended my review of issue four (not volume four, good call el_matt!) of the six-part Apocalypse Suite, and now it's here. I'll reiterate my admission of ignorance of the medium here. I've now read "V for Vendetta" more carefully, skimmed through The Long Halloween somewhere and a couple random trade paperbacks of whatever Joss Whedon did the X-Men, so now I know more fully that I don't know much.

$20 later and four readings later, I'm not entirely satisfied with the purchase. The mathematics of the situation paint a different picture. Six issues, at, roughly, three dollars each ($18), plus the Free Comic Book Day issue, all the James Jean covers and a two-page mini-story that made me smile from ear to ear, so, call that an extra two bucks ($20), and with most of the preliminary sketches for the superhero team by Mr. Way gives some interesting background, along with short (page and a half or so) essays by everyone involved ($20-something?), except (of course) Gerard Way -- this all seems fair on a purely economic level. Hell, Mr. Way's inspiration for The Umbrella Academy, Doom Patrol author Grant Morrison provides the introduction, but Mr. Way's thoughts on his own book aren't here. Perhaps this is his way of saying let the work speak for itself.

Regarding the stories themselves, the Seance is my new favorite character, if only for his response to the house / Umbrella Base of Operations getting destroyed: "There goes all my shoes." I wrote in the earlier review that I enjoyed Mr. Way's black humor, pathos and pacing. It still holds true in this book, which has some fantastic moments -- that frankly, text only can't do justice to. Mr. Ba and Way successfully evade a "walk into the sunset" ending, leaving one character in the hospital undergoing critical surgery, three dead and a good portion of the set pieces destroyed by the end of the story arc.

And now, I think I know my $20 gripe: The book just doesn't feel heavy enough. I don't mean in the metaphorical sense, either. It doesn't weigh enough to feel like it justifies the purchase. It's silly, because as soon as I care to open it and read, the money becomes worth it.

I admit I don't know much about comic books, but that doesn't stop me from loving The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite. It's eccentric. It's got black humor and the heroes involved aren't one-dimensional hacks, and the straight man to it all is the one in a monkey suit with a jetpack, sitting on the moon's Annihillation Control station, waiting for disaster. For better or for worse, disaster brings the Umbrella Academy family together. Here's hoping their lives don't get boring.