Current Reviews


Umbrella Academy #4

Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2008
By: Ariel Carmona Jr.

Writer: Gerard Way
Artist: Gabriel Ba

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

After a mostly action packed issue in which the Umbrella Academy squared off against Dr. Terminal’s Terminaut robots at the carnival, the book reverts to its former eccentric and introspective style of narration with occasional flashbacks, time jumps and deeper looks at the principal characters.

The focus this issue is on Vanya and her feelings of inadequacy at not being special or belonging with the others because of her lack of superior abilities and her father’s lack of support. Way may have foreshadowed her subsequent metamorphism early on by depicting her anger and dismay, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t pull it off or that it is any less enjoyable.

The levity and sense of wonder which permeated previous installments of the series are still here, though they come forth in more subdued moments and tightly written characterizations this issue. One such moment is number five flying around with Dr. Pogo looking for signs of the apocalypse. The dialogue turned in by Way is superb as are the fantastic situations in which all the characters find themselves immersed in.

The classic dynamics found in other team books are also evident here, but how much more praise can I lavish on Gabriel Ba’s artistic prowess? His panels practically catapult off the printed page, aided by Dave Stewart’s coloring, giving the entire comic a sense of balanced beauty and emotion. Subtle panels where all that’s required are a facial expression or close up of the character’s eyes are rendered as efficiently as large action packed panels. In fact, the whole enterprise seems effortlessly rendered.

Plotwise, we see Vanya’s induction into the Orchestra and her transformation into the White Violin, though her final part in the Apocalypse suite has yet to be revealed. It looks as though a clash with the others is imminent. It makes for another strikingly beautiful cover by James Jean.

This was another installment of a clever, beautiful looking book, and I am only bummed about the notion that Dark Horse may take some time in between mini series after this one concludes, as this comic is one fine reading experience.

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