Sunday, September 23, 2007

My Chemical Way-Ba, or How I Love The Umbrella Academy

The Umbrella Academy
The Day the Eiffel Tower Went Berserk
Issue 1 (of 6) of Apocalypse Suite
Story: Gerard Way
Art: Gabriel Bá
Cover: James Jean

From the very first page I knew I was going to like this comic-book. Actually, I take that back. From the cover, I knew I was going to like this comic book. James Jean never goes wrong. Also, having Scott Allie associated with a project is a plus any day.
So first page: I love Way's "notes from Sir Reginald Hargreeves, a.k.a. The Monocle" they're really funny and offered a good 'intro' to our Academy members. My favourite line:
"00.03 Insufferable, narcissistic creature, but extremely useful."

A couple of disclaimers -
Even though I have some My Chemical Romance songs on my iTunes I am by no means a Gerard Way fan - unlike some people I know.
Even though I got a free copy of The Umbrella Academy short story released on Free Comic Boy Day both at the time and later at Comic Con, I had not read it (I had only looked at the pretty cover, over and over again)

That said, after reading the first issue I fell in love with everything - the ridiculously crazy plot, the witty dialogue, the super-fun artwork by Gabriel Bá (reminiscent enough of his brother's work on Joss' Sugarshock but appropriately different to suit Mr Way's tone and story) and of course, the characters. Rumour might just actually have the greatest power I have ever heard of. So simple and yet so 'extremely useful.'
To Gerard Way's merit I will say that the comic-book reads very much in a cinematic fashion and I think that's one thing I found helped set the pace and the mood for the story. More so than any other book I've read recently, Bá's panels work as shots on a screen that accompany Way's voice-over in the first five pages what seems to be a wonderfully informative and yet vague enough introduction that reminded me of Ms Blanchett's voice-over narration opening Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. And then, as if that wasn't enough, Way gives us one of the most amusing titles I've come across: The Day the Eiffel Tower Went Berserk. (Those crazy French! Non?)
Overall it is an intriguing concept and though I was actually hoping to get more background story (I am always weary of those '__ years later' labels, but actually that followed by 'The Moon' was cool), I am enjoying where it is going and can't wait for the next issue!

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