Netflix series brings realistic twist to comics

Umbrella Academy

By JAKE DAY, Staff Reporter |

Another super-powered team goes from the pages to the screen in Netflix’s adaptation of “The Umbrella Academy.” Former frontman for the band My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way, writes the comics and was the co-executive producer of the Netflix series.

The team of X-Men-like teenagers grows into emotionally stunted adults with abilities that make it hard to live normal lives. The seven members of the academy face troubles specific to their powers. 

Things like communicating with the dead are hard when the dead are always talking. The show takes a realistic look at every scenario. No matter how bizarre.

Fans of another show about what powers would be used in the real world will appreciate an unofficial crossover character. Robert Sheehan played Nathan in “Misfits” and plays Number 3: Klaus in “The Umbrella Academy.” 

Both characters are able to communicate with the dead and have problems with self-control. They are also the source of a lot of the comic relief. 

Though all of the lead characters in “The Umbrella Academy” have humor and range, I consider Sheehan an actor to watch out for. He is capable and can dive into the deep ends of both humor and drama.

“Misfits” was a UK TV show about teens on community service for probation that get caught in a freak storm and get powers. The show focuses on what real teenagers would do with powers, as well as what happens when they make super-powered mistakes.

This is a moderately new sub-genre. It’s kind of a cult theme among film and TV shows because it makes sense. 

When every other big movie is about a superhuman or hero, the generic hero storylines are boring. I love that we’ve gotten to the point where we can explore the real world consequences of running around in tights or having abilities.

The acting comes off as genuine and relatable. Each member deals with personal issues that real people go through. 

The separation of a mother from her child, a child told she was never more than ordinary, troubled minds and multiple insecurities are explored. Loss, bitterness, addiction, family but mainly loneliness.

The reason Gerard Way wrote this series about a family was because of the strong ties that he had with My Chemical Romance. The band members were even represented in some of the characters of the show.

I very much appreciate the limited use of CGI for action. A lot of the show is actual props and lights. It helps to ground the realism even further. 

The powers do often have visual effects associated with them but they are kept subtle until they are needed to be increased visually due to the severity of the action. The producers clearly didn’t have the budget they wanted. Still, the effects were well done where they needed to be.

Conceptually, the show can get pretty heavy. There is nonlinear time travel and more than a few mysteries to solve. It does require some attention, but I doubt anyone who makes it past the first episode will have a hard time finishing the series. 

Even though they didn’t have the budget and the quality effects they needed to pull everything off visually, the show rarely dipped in quality. 

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