Book Review: The Umbrella Academy – Volume 2: Dallas by Gerard Way

Image Description: book cover. The background of the cover is white with faint-red blood splatterings across the white wall. The foreground focuses on Number Five, in his black Umbrella Academy uniform, holding a rifle with a scope, while wearing JFK political badges.

Title: The Umbrella Academy, Vol. 2: Dallas
Creators: Gerard Way (Writer), Gabriel Bá (Artist), Dave Stewart (Colourist), and Nate Piekos (Letterer)
Social Media: Goodreads
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Format and Price: eBook format $6.33
Stars: 3 stars out of 5

About The Creators:
Gerard Way: Gerard Way began writing and drawing comics at age five when his grandmother first put a pencil in his hand. Having developed a love of the arts, Way attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City where he honed his skills as a writer and an artist before he made a career as a musician. He was a guest speaker at the prestigious Oxford Union and is a Grammy-nominated art director. He currently lives with his wife and children in Los Angeles, California. He’s also in a band.

Gabriel Bá: Gabriel Bá and his twin brother Fábio Moon have been telling comic book stories for the last ten years in their hometown of Sáo Paulo-Brazil’s biggest megalopolis. Their first major US release, De: TALES, collects stories that show their interest in human relations and their eye for the details that make each person unique. As an artist, after taking the challenge of creating the sci-fi mind-bending Casanova with writer Matt Fraction, Bá saw in The Umbrella Academy the chance to work on a mainstream superhero project where he could get deep into the characters while throwing punches and flying around.

About The Book:
The team is despondent following the near apocalypse created by one of their own and the death of their beloved mentor Pogo. So it’s a great time for another catastrophic event to rouse the team into action. Trouble is – each member of the team is distracted by some very real problems of their own. The White Violin is bedridden due to an unfortunate blow to the head. Rumour has lost her voice – the source of her power. Spaceboy has eaten himself into a near-catatonic state, while Number Five dives into some shady dealings at the dog track and the Kraken starts looking at his littlest brother as the key to unravelling a mysterious series of massacres…all leading to a blood-drenched face-off with maniacal assassins, and a plot to kill JFK!

General Observation:
~Sliding Scale of Plot versus Character: This series is firmly at the Plot end of the scale. There’s so much going on, and the narrative pacing is so fast, that it’s difficult to keep track of what is happening. Personally, I consider this detrimental to the narrative (more on this later). Once again, the creators appear to be much more interested in planting plot seeds, rather than exploring why the characters behave the way they do

~Lack of Character Development: Over the course of the volume, Alison has her powers taken away and then restored, and both of these events happened without her consent. The only one who shows some form of concern for Alison and Vanya’s conditions respectively is Mom (the robot).

Mom is the only one to call Alison out on her behaviour. Mom also appears to be the only one who is aware of what’s going on. On Alison’s side, there’s no real internal reflection upon these events, and although I do like the scene where Alison curls up into the hospital-bed with Vanya, some internal dialogue boxes could have been added for further depth.

~Powers As The Plot Demands: The other problem I had, and this may vary from reader to reader, was the way Klaus suddenly knew things when the plot demanded it, and very little of his life is explained. Now, I can understand the creators taking the position of “it’s more interesting if we don’t explain it” when it comes to Klaus, however, there’s a fine line. For Example, Klaus had a child in Vietnam, which he left behind in the past, is this ever going to be brought up again?

~Achilles in His Tent: Luther pretty much spends a great big chunk of his narrative space sitting on the couch and eating as a way of coping with his problems. Now, this behaviour is understandable given the events of the previous volume, however, I’m not a fan of this passive trope. There’s also a right way and a wrong way of addressing this kind of problem.

All in all, I found this volume amusing but puzzling, and there’s so much going on it may take a couple of re-reads to process it all. Perhaps that’s the nature of stories involving stabilising time-loops. I’m going to continue with the series, however, I understand if some readers may not want to.

Available for Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

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