Archive for Umbrella Academy

Friday Night Fights: Skull Kraken!

There’s less than a week before Thanksgiving, and this seems to be the perfect time to consider all the things we have to be thankful for. Family and friends, good fortune wherever it may fall, weekends, days off, and most importantly — FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s pain-party is brought to you by 2008’s MySpace Dark Horse Presents anthology, from from Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba’s story “Safe and Sound,” starring the Kraken from the Umbrella Academy.




Y’all have a merry weekend, and I’ll see y’all back here bright and early Monday.

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Up the Academy

The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #6

The whole team is now in Dallas in 1963, with young Number Five and the Rumor trying to assassinate President Kennedy, and Spaceboy, Kraken, Seance, and old Number Five trying to prevent the shooting. Wait, where is the Rumor anyway? Spaceboy’s group takes down the evil time travelers, and old Number Five shoots the assassins on the grassy knoll — well, he does miss one of them. (Is that too vague? Too bad — trying to prevent spoiling all the fun.) When the team gets back to the present day, they find (luckily) that the Earth hasn’t been destroyed, and that not much has changed. Is it good? Is it bad? Ultimately, it’s neither. It’s just the way things go.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A big powerful ending, with lots of surprises, great characterization, and great art. Great work by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba — hope they can bring this team back for more sometime soon.

Killapalooza #1

What if you had an insanely popular rock band that was also a team of metahuman assassins? They all hate each other and are planning on quitting the band and the hired-killer business, but they’ve got one more job to do, in the midst of all the other rock bands they hate — if they can get out alive.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Not a single appealing character. Very little characterization. Sketchy artwork. Predictable plot. Dull, dull, dull.

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Time after Time

Let’s take us a look at some comics about time travel. By which I mean, I’m actually reviewing these comics in the year 3942 and have just sent these reviews back to you in the past. In the future, we have robot vacuum cleaners and the Internet! YAY FOR THE FUTURE!

Booster Gold #19

This is pretty much just an epilogue for the last storyarc. We’ve got two versions of Booster running around ancient Egypt, Booster’s sister Goldstar gets set up for a heel turn, and Rip Hunter goes on a mission in time that almost gets screwed up by Booster’s deep time meddling.

Verdict: Thumbs down. This is just incredibly boring.

And that cover. Oy, that cover. Can I just focus on that word balloon?

Oh, I’m sorry, but my wishes involved a comic book that wasn’t mind-numbingly boring. That’s why I’m glad I’ve got this next one to read.

The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #5

Everyone’s running around 1963 either getting ready to assassinate President Kennedy, or trying to prevent the assassination. The problem is that Spaceboy, Kraken, and Spaceboy messed up their trip to the past and have spent the last few years in Vietnam, which is a heck of a long way from Dallas. So we get a very nice sequence where a bunch of American soldiers, including a chimpanzee, drag a mystical mummy through the jungle in a quest to end the Vietnam War early, but they get attacked by Vietnamese soldiers, who are all hopping vampires. Number 5 and Rumor, along with a bunch of Time Commandos are in place and ready to stop Future Number 5 from saving the President, so can the rest of the Academy get there in time to stop them?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s confusing as heck, but it’s also grand fun to read. Lots of great personality bits, lots of great action, and the battlefield scene with the vampires (while not really culturally precise) (unless that’s just an indication of China sending their own soldiers to help the North Vietnamese) is just wonderful fun. While “Booster Gold” is becoming a case study in how to make time travel both confusing and boring, this one is showing how to make it all look cool.

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Ten Years of the Goon

As it turned out, I didn’t go see the midnight showing for “Watchmen” — I’ve been having a really rough time with my allergies lately, and I didn’t much want to spend three hours in a theater sneezing my head off. Another time, maybe.

We got time for reviews? Sure we got time for reviews.

The Goon #32

It’s the big tenth-anniversary issue of Eric Powell’s noir-horror-comedy “The Goon.” We get an extra-large issue featuring the Zombie Priest’s origin, the Goon’s birthday party, the world’s most horrible singing telegram, the monstrous god of hobos, a delicious cake, and a digression about the ins-and-outs of animal-human-sex-humor starring Powell, writer-director Frank Darabont, and a Mr. T robot. All that plus a sketchbook with art by Mike Mignola, Jeff Smith, and Bernie Wrightson, Powell’s notes on the development of the Goon, and Powell’s tales of his trip to Paris.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Just grand, crude, hilarious, awesome stuff.

The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #4

That’s an awesome cover.

Anyway, Seance has been shot in the head and killed, and he still manages to take out sugar-rushed assassins Hazel and Cha Cha! After that, it’s time to reboot Spaceboy, dig up Dr. Pogo’s grave, grab the Kraken, and go time tripping to stop the Rumor and Number 5 from killing President Kennedy. Anything else? Well, there are the nukes, but I’m pretty sure someone knows how to defuse those, right? Right?

Verdict: Another thumbs up. This one is crammed full of whacked-out lunacy, played almost completely straight, and it’s got one of the best cliffhanger endings I’ve seen in quite a while.

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News and Reviews

Before I get too far, I’d like to point out that “Being Human” — the BBC horror/dramedy I wrote about a couple of days ago — is going to be aired sometime this year on BBC America. Probably won’t mean much to me, ’cause I can’t afford cable, but for those of you who can get BBC America, you’ll be able to see this show. (Of course, it seems likely that we’ll be able to get some episodes through iTunes, too.)

And in news of “When Nerds Go Bad,” here’s an article about a guy who robbed a convenience store with a Klingon sword.

Okay, let’s get a few reviews out of the way, oy?

The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #3

The Seance has been captured by cartoon-headed super-assassins Hazel and Cha-Cha but he manages to psychically communicate with Spaceboy, who finally gets his fat butt off the couch. Unfortunately, Seance still gets killed anyway. Then he meets God, who’s a cowboy. He’s a fairly dim cowboy, actually. And though he doesn’t much like Seance, he knows the Devil won’t like him either, so he returns him to life. Meanwhile, Number Five tells Rumor about the time he spent in the future as an elderly, cybernetically- and genetically-enhanced time-assassin.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m still amazed that this series has been so good and so fun. Seriously, first time I heard of it, I figured it’d just be a little vanity project for the singer from My Chemical Romance. Lo and behold, Gerard Way is actually one heck of a writer!

Justice Society of America #23

Who’s leaving, who’s coming back? Well, Hawkman’s gotten kicked out. Good. Weird shirtless, crabby, winged, mace weirdo. Amazing-Man and Citizen Steel are out. Boo! They were both cool. Magog’s out, Lightning is in, Wildcat Junior is in, Cyclone is in, Damage is in, and Atom-Smasher wants back in. The main part of the story focuses on Black Adam and Isis, and it’s creepy. Isis has been held prisoner by Felix Faust, and he’s used a spell to make her unable to move. Nothing specific or concrete is shown, but it’s very heavily implied that Faust has been raping her. Like, for months. Black Adam tracks them down, frees Isis, and knocks Faust around a little, then it’s (again) implied that Isis, um, tears his manly bits off. And she wants revenge on the whole world, so she and Black Adam break into the Rock of Eternity, beat the stuffing out of Billy Batson in his grey-haired wizard Captain Marvel phase, and take away his powers.

Verdict: I’m gonna thumbs-down this one. There’s way too much rape and junk-ripping in more adult-oriented comics without dragging it into the Justice Society’s book. Could the same result (Isis wanting revenge on the world and attacking Captain Marvel) have been accomplished without pointlessly and gratuitously subjecting more characters to rape and torture? Oh, you betcha.

Wonder Woman #28

An injured Wonder Woman mobilizes her Gorilla City allies, Nemesis, Wonder Girl, and Donna Troy in the fight against Genocide. Much hitting occurs. Much, much hitting. Mixed with some angst. But mostly hitting.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Bored now.

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The Monkey of your Dreams

The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #2

The Umbrella “family” is tearing itself apart from the inside — Kraken is mad at Spaceboy for getting depressed and getting fat while obsessing over TV, the Seance ignores everyone now that he’s a celebrity, Number 5 is missing… and Hazel and Cha-Cha are in town. They’re a couple of loons wearing cartoon animal heads. They’re baaaad news.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s still wonderfully loopy. Hazel and Cha-Cha are creepy as heck. I’d like to see the family do something other than argue, but we’ll see what’s coming.

Birds of Prey #125

The Birds are running a two-pronged mission — while Babs and Black Canary distract the Caretaker, a member of the Silicon Syndicate who is an obsessive collector and sadistic kidnapper, by pretending they’re going to destroy a super-rare sports car he wants to buy (he responds by sending masses of hired assassins after them), Huntress and Infinity sneak into his hideout to free his captives.

Verdict: I’m gonna give it a thumbs down. There are a few nice moments in it, including that great Frank Quitely cover, but on the whole, it’s entirely forgettable.

Secret Six #4

The Secret Six — actually just the Secret Five (Catman, Deadshot, Scandal Savage, Ragdoll, and Bane) plus their hostage, Tarantula — are in possession of an actual Get Out of Hell Free card. Every supervillain in the world wants to take the card from them, and impossibly-creepy mastermind Junior has put a bounty on all of their heads. The whole team is at each others’ throats over the card as they ride cross-country in, of all things, a stolen ice cream truck. Junior kills a priest, mainly for kicks, partly because he has no idea how confession is supposed to work. Bane is weirdly attracted to Scandal. When everyone gets to Las Vegas, they meet up with the owner of the Nocturne Hotel, a mysterious superhuman called the Last Victim, who has a fondness for old French fashions and lollipops. But is it already too late for everyone?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent dialogue and characterization, dandy plot, gorgeous artwork, evil and entertaining villain, outstanding cliffhanger. Get it, read it, love it.

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The Attack of Evil Lincoln!

The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #1

It’s the day after the Umbrella Academy defeated the White Violin and the Orchestra Verdammten. The Seance is still an acclaimed hero, The Rumor is still unable to speak, the White Violin is still paralyzed with no memory of what happened, and Professor Pogo is still dead. The Rumor takes her ultimately futile revenge on her brain-damaged sister by making her watch news video of the chaos her attacks caused. Spaceboy is enjoying a little reality TV. The Kraken is back to beating the snot out of criminals. Number Five is losing money at the dogtrack and getting attacked by — and slaughtering — legions of goons from the future. But do any of them stand a chance against… Hazel and Cha-Cha?

Verdict: Thumbs up. More great stuff from Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba. Perhaps the most fun thing about this issue is the flashback to the Academy’s childhood, when they fought the mystically animated statue of Abraham Lincoln from the Lincoln Memorial. The Rumor’s method of dispatching the evil presidential statue is exceedingly cool.

Blue Beetle #33

The Teen Titans are helping Blue Beetle and Peacemaker watch over a “Day Without Immigrants” protest in El Paso. Emotions are high — and for some reason, that’s when a bunch of Dr. Polaris’ magnetically-powered goons show up to attack all the protestors. Once everyone realizes this is just a diversion to distract everyone from Dr. Polaris’ real scheme at White Sands, how is Jaime, with his established weakness to magnetic fields, going to handle the magnetic villain all by himself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I found myself wanting to dislike this, but there’s just too much good stuff. Peacemaker worrying that he hangs around too many kids, Kid Devil enthusing over breakfast tacos, more great patter from Paco and Brenda (and namedropping Hellboy, too!), Wonder Girl getting off an unusual number of good one-liners, and Jaime once again using science to defeat bad guys.

Wonder Woman #26

The Greek gods return to Olympus to find that it’s been creatively defiled by Darkseid’s New Gods. Elsewhere, Diana Prince and her team of agents from the DMA respond to an emergency call at a shopping mall to find a lot of destruction and a lot of dead or dying civilians. When Wonder Woman investigates, she finds something calling itself Genocide, something that appears to be a god, and it effortlessly beats the snot out of her.

Verdict: Ehh, not sure yet. Wondy getting her butt kicked is rare enough in this comic — are they going to come up with something good to go along with it, or is this just another cheesy tie-in with “Final Crisis”?

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Blue Thunder


Blue Beetle #24

So the evil aliens called the Reach are trying to blow up Jaime’s family and friends. They’ve captured Jaime, and they’ve killed the Scarab attached to his spine, leaving him completely powerless. Back in El Paso, just about every every member of BB’s supporting cast shows up to help fight off the aliens, but on the spaceship, Jaime’s locked up and helpless, right? Must be why the Reach are in a panic, in disarray, and in imminent peril of getting blown out of the sky. Must be why their Head Negotiator keeps freaking out and screaming in frustration. And coming up at the end? That’s how you do a cliffhanger, baby.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Oh, I know, I didn’t tell you all the good stuff. I didn’t give you the plot twists and amazing moments and great lines and jaw-dropping thrills. I’m doing this for your benefit, people. You don’t want me to spoil all the fun, do you? Of course not. You want to see for yourself how Jaime gets out of his cell, how his family keeps the Reach at bay, how Jaime keeps setting these alien dorks up for fall after fall after fall. Go get this issue — heck, get every back issue you can get your claws on. This is one of the best comics DC is producing right now, and you don’t want to miss out.


The Umbrella Academy #6

It’s the end of the world, and the end of the Umbrella Academy, too! The White Violin (formerly the Academy’s powerless sister Vanya) has used her musically destructive powers to kill Pogo, the family’s chimpanzee caretaker, and she and the Orchestra Verdammten are working hard to bring about Armageddon. She easily handles Kraken, the Rumor, and Spaceboy, so is there any chance that 00.05 and Seance can stop Vanya? And even if they can, can anyone stop the End of Everything?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Once again, I’m leaving out so much cool stuff so you can enjoy discovering them yourself. But the Seance is an amazing actor, 00.05 is a complete jerk, and I still feel sorry for Vanya. It’s far from a completely happy ending, but it’s the right ending, and that’s all that matters. If writer Gerard Way ever gets tired of making music with his band, he’ll be eagerly welcomed back to comics. If you didn’t pick this one up before, go get it now, or wait for the eventual complete collection, but do make sure you read it. It’s big, big fun.

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Until the End of the World


The Umbrella Academy #5

There’s a lot of stuff going on here. Number 5 effortlessly kills a bunch of mysterious villains in a diner, implies that he had something to do with the Kennedy assassination, suddenly acquires a fondness for Hargreeves’ monocle, has disturbing visions about the Academy’s uplifted chimpanzee caretaker Pogo, and faints. Spaceboy and the Rumor have a quiet moment together, then Rumor uses her powers to get a liplock with Space — which is kinda creepy, since Rumor and Space have spent their whole lives thinking of each other as siblings. And Vanya, now operating as the destructively musical White Violin, does a very bad thing to a very nice person. Next Issue: The End of the World.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Ye gods, I love this series. The characters are just so wild and weird and vibrant — when Vanya makes her move, you don’t know whether to be mad at her, sad for her, or hopeful that she can somehow pull herself out of this part of her life. You should be reading this now, and if you don’t get with it, I’m gonna come to your house and hit you with boulders, I swear it.


Booster Gold #6

Booster defies Time Master Rip Hunter’s wishes and goes on a mission to save Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle who died prior to the Infinite Crisis, with three other Blue Beetles — Dan Garrett, the Golden Age Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes, the Blue Beetle of today, and a mysterious Blue Beetle from the future. And things appear to go swimmingly — Booster and the Beetles manage to stop Mazwell Lord before he can shoot Ted. But can they really get away with disrupting the proper timeline? And is Rip Hunter planning to use Booster’s own ancestors to get back at him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is just a great series, and no one was expecting much of anything from it.


The Flash #236

The Flash and his kids save the JLA and save the world from the invading aquatic aliens, but they have to sacrifice their connection to the alien “Planet Flash” where they’ve occasionally traveled.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Okay, remember how bad the last issue was, with that insanely retch-inducing garbage about the JLA getting into “warrior-rage mode”? Well, that one was so cosmically bad, that its unholy stink reached forward in time to infect this comic. If any of y’all are ever in the same room with writer Mark Waid and a whiffle bat, please strike the former with the latter. Tell him I said “Hi.”

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Blue Beetle #22

Hot on the trail of the evil alien race called the Reach, Jaime and Danni Garrett, granddaughter of the original Blue Beetle, go diving into an active volcano to find proof that the Reach are up to no good. They run into Tovar the Lava King, a mighty warrior prone to a lot of hollering about “Less talk! More VENGEANCE!” What’s Tovar’s place in the Reach’s plan? What does Tovar do when he finds out what he’s expected to do?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Reach storyline is advancing very well. There’s a lot of cool stuff with Jaime’s family. And Tovar is a fun character — I hope someone can figure out a way to bring him back someday.


Green Lantern #26

Who are the Alpha Lanterns? I dunno. They don’t bother telling us in this issue.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Come on, don’t tease us with a cover that promises one thing while delivering a bunch of disconnected soap-opera blather.


The Umbrella Academy #4

In the wake of the battle against the Terminauts, the Academy family continue to squabble amongst each other, little suspecting that Vanya, the powerless, unheroic sister, has gone over to the evil Orchestra Verdammten. The diabolical Conductor claims that Vanya is the most powerful and most dangerous member of her family, and he proceeds to torture her to try to bring out her full potential. The eventual result: Vanya is transformed into la Viole Blanche, or the White Violin, a woman who can kill with music. Is she going to destroy the Orchestra Verdammten? The Umbrella Academy? The entire world? Why not all three?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is still one of the best comics to come out in the past year, and you’re missing out if you don’t read it.

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