In 2007, The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite took the comic book world by storm. The follow-up, The Umbrella Academy: Dallas, is now receiving a library edition from Dark Horse Comics. It promises oversized pages and an extended sketchbook from writer Gerard Way, artist Gabriel Bá, colorist Dave Stewart, and letterer Nate Piekos.
Way, of My Chemical Romance fame, solidified his talent as a writer for the weird and wicked. Focusing the narrative around the character Number Five, he takes us headfirst into an action-packed, peculiar adventure. Each member of the Umbrella Academy has a story arc revolving around Five. His goal throughout the volume is to prevent the John F. Kennedy assassination in Dallas. The journey involves time-traveling, death, murder, talking fish, and vampires. For a six-issue run, it feels like this script shouldn’t work. However, Way takes these absurdities and crafts them into a cohesive story.
The Umbrella Academy: Dallas is a grand improvement from the first volume. Way explores the ramifications of the events of the first book. He grounds all of the characters. Vanya, Five, Luthor, Allison, Diego, and Klaus feel like real people with goals. He uses them to explore themes of dysfunctional family dynamics, forgiveness, and acceptance. By the end of the book, you feel a sense of endearment towards them.
My only criticism of the script lies in the humor placed throughout the volume. There is one character who experiences intense body changes as a coping mechanism after the events of the first book. There are many jokes and quips thrown commenting on the state of this person’s body. With such care given to the rest of the characters’ arcs, it was a shame to realize that this particular character was underdeveloped.
The world of The Umbrella Academy: Dallas could not come to life without the artistic team behind Way’s script. Gabriel Bá’s art stands out amongst the sea of hyper-realistic artwork in modern comics. His linework is heavy and bold, often feeling reminiscent of Mike Mignola. Bá chooses to use angular shapes that make The Umbrella Academy: Dallas feel like a Sunday morning cartoon. Bá does not focus his action scenes on the characters. He depicts them as smaller so that he can heavily detail the scene. When blood is involved, it looks like blobs of red conjoined together. Bá’s art doesn’t aim to ground this story but further enhances the science-fiction elements.
Stewart colors this book in pigmented, dark colors. The color scheme consists of oranges, reds, indigoes, and greys. This is depending on whether it is an action scene or not. His coloring stands out most with the introduction of characters Hazel and Cha-Chá. Ba’s character design establishes them as menacing antagonists with their animal-like heads. Stewart only uses bright colors for them, making them pop throughout the volume. Cha-Chá’s head is bright blue and Hazel’s is bubblegum pink. His coloring elevates their murderous characters from menacing to absolutely unhinged and depraved.
As if Bá and Stewart weren’t already a great team, Piekos on letters makes The Umbrella Academy: Dallas stand out from your average action book. His onomatopoeias are seldom in text bubbles. They usually aren’t even linear and give the book intense pulp vibes. The font is jagged, set within angular speech bubbles, furthering its departure from other action stories.
When the script is focusing on exposition, Piekos expertly places text balloons against Bá’s minimalistic backgrounds. It makes it easy to read, and the pages do not feel congested. Halfway through the book, I come to realize that the antagonist’s words have red outlines. Red, often, symbolizes danger. I found this attention to detail to be an innovative and unique approach to symbolism through lettering. It’s refreshing to see how lettering can enhance a book from a standard action title to a unique and fun experience.
Dark Horse‘s Library Edition of The Umbrella Academy: Dallas is a must for both new and old fans alike. The oversized pages make this action-adventure book take on a life of its own. The entire creative team kills on this title. It is a special and unique title that is not afraid to be different than everything else out on the stands. Way creates loveable characters in a high-octane world. Bá’s art is fascinating to look at. Stewart’s colors are delightful. Piekos’ lettering is incredibly fun. If you’re looking to relive the events of the second Umbrella Academy volume or haven’t gotten around to reading it, be sure to pick it up.
Dark Horse‘s Library Edition of The Umbrella Academy: Dallas is November 27th, 2019 at your local comic book shop.
Dark Horse's Library Edition of The Umbrella Academy: Dallas
Dark Horse‘s Library Edition of The Umbrella Academy: Dallas is a must for both new and old fans alike. The oversized pages make this action-adventure book take on a life of its own. The entire creative team kills on this title. It is a special and unique title that is not afraid to be different than everything else out on the stands.