There’s a lot to unpack in THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY. This show has superpowers, a dysfunctional family, power complexes, and a little bit of everything! THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY focuses on 7 children who were born at exactly the same time and have superhuman powers. A man named Sir Reginald Hargreeves adopted them and trained them to become THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY, a crime-fighting organization. The show takes place after Hargreeves dies and the children (now adults) come together for his funeral.

Number 1 is super strong and was living on the moon and #2 is a knife thrower that never misses and spends his time chasing bad guys. Number 3 is a famous actress but most of her success is due to using her power to control minds. Klaus (#4) is a drug addict who can communicate with the dead. 5 Can jump through space and time and has been missing due to tricky time travel and number 6 is deceased. Number 7 is thought to be powerless but ends up being the most powerful, using her violin to create waves of destruction.

This Netflix series was adapted from a limited series of comic books by Gabriel Ba and Gerard Way. My Chemical Romance fans, where ya at?! This first series covers the first book titled Apocalypse Suite. There are three major changes from the comics. At the end of the comics, we learn that #3 has lost her ability to talk which leaves her powerless. In the series, we aren’t certain about whether or not she will recover. The comics portray Hazel and Cha-Cha as sugar-crazed, evil doers with no remorse and that is far from who they are in the show. And lastly, The Conductor that experiments on #7 changes into a controlling boyfriend. Let’s dig in.

1. Umbrella Academy’s Famous Last Words

Image: Refinery 29

The members of the academy didn’t have a typical upbringing therefore, they don’t have normal sibling relationships. In the television show, #7 (Vanya) slashes #3’s (Allison) throat. Allison could lose her powers or die and we all feel for her. She is the most grounded and compassionate of the group. We’ve seen Allison go through so much, it tugs at our heartstrings to watch her get hurt by someone she’s trying to help. When Allison wakes up, we don’t know if she’ll be able to talk again.

The uncertainty of #3’s fate doesn’t align with the comic book version of the story because, at the very end of the story, we learn that Allison will never be able to talk again. Personally, I hope that this is something that changes in the Netflix series. #3 and #6 are the only two characters of color in THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY. Ben (#6) is Asian and Allison is African American. Early on in the series, we learn that Ben died young; on one of their missions. Although Ben is dead, he gets dragged along with #4. Ben struggles with being confined to whatever #4 says and does.

Allison is the only other person of color in THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY. Since she may lose her voice, she could share the same fate as Ben, to be silenced. Ben and Allison are passive characters. That’s not something that the world needs more of. Especially for the only people of color in the academy.

Image: Romper

2. Demolition Lovers: Vanya & Leonard

Umbrella Academy
Image: Atomic Junk Shop

Another difference between the comics and the television show takes place in #7 (Vanya)’s love life.

Vanya was the most mistreated by her father. Hargreeves told her that she had no powers. Vanya didn’t go on any missions or attend defense lessons. She was lonely but the only solace she had was in playing her violin. Vanya’s vulnerability and tendency to be a shut-in made her closed off to the world and inexperienced with dating, so she was the perfect target for Leonard Peabody. Leonard is her manipulative boyfriend who had a childhood obsession with the Umbrella Academy. Peabody experiments with Vanya because he has discovered that she has powers.

Leonard isn’t from the comics. In the books, it is the conductor of Vanya’s orchestra that persuades her to join their cult. In the comics, The Conductor isn’t a love interest but that’s what makes the television adaptation much more creepy. Leonard is someone that plants himself into Vanya’s life and makes her fall for him. He does horrible things to make it seem like he is Vanya’s life has turned around for the better. What makes this scarier than the comics is the realness of it all. The comics make the orchestra of doom hard to relate to because they all have a mission of ending the world. The adaptation portrays an emotionally manipulative and abusive relationship, something that happens a lot more often in the real world.

Umbrella Academy
Image: Refinery 29

3. Hazel & Cha-Cha: I Never Told You What I Do For a Living

Hazel & Cha-Cha have one of the most dramatic differences from the comic to the show. In the comics, we only get surface deep. We learn that they work for The Commission, that their love for sweets unifies them and that they are merciless. Talk about a 180. In the series, Hazel & Cha-Cha still work for the commission but Hazel doesn’t enjoy working for “The Man.” Hazel and Cha-Cha are united by their partnership and fondness for each other and not sweets. Although, Hazel does have a thing for doughnuts. They change because we see them as human. In the comics, we don’t learn much about the pair but in the show, we learn about their hopes, dreams, and shortcomings.

Hazel wants to quit his job and live a regular life but Cha-Cha wants to keep working because she really loves her job (and is good at it). Even though Hazel & Cha-Cha are certified killers, their humanness allows the audience to sympathize with them. This was such a good change for the show. Too often we have villains that are just plain bad. In real life, we know that people aren’t all bad and that no one is all good. We’re all a mixture of the two. So having Hazel & Cha-Cha reflect that makes the show more realistic and different from a typical superhero genre.

The Umbrella Academy
Image: Twitter

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY’s Future: To The End

This show has so many complex characters, yet it doesn’t make it hard to keep up. In the future, I want to see Allison and Ben become less passive characters! There aren’t a lot of characters on television that are people of color. The show is so close to having that representation, but with the characters being voiceless, it’s almost as if they’re taking something that makes this show special, away. The transition from The Conductor to Leonard Peabody was inspirational. The switch is important because it makes the situation feel more realistic. Who can relate to being in a doomsday cult that wants to bring about the apocalypse? Anyone else? Domestic violence is definitely real.

You’ve read about it or seen it on the news or perhaps you’ve experienced it yourself. Leonard helps lift the story from the pages of the book and turn it into a three-dimensional situation. Hazel & Cha-Cha are so bad but they’re so good! I absolutely love what they did to these characters. They’re less than one dimensional. It was another great move from the adaptors but Hazel & Cha-Cha have texture and grit. It’s important that Hazel & Cha-Cha remain good guy/bad guys because it shows audiences a more realistic villain.

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